Have you ever heard Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s (1756-1791) last and very popular German opera The Magic Flute performed completely in Mandarin? Can you imagine what adding jazz drums, a keyboard and hip-hop rhythms to Mozart’s opera orchestration would sound like? Thanks to the collaborative ingenuity of director Shan Cheng-chu, conductor Johnny Ku and composer Jan Tien-hao, the Taipei Philharmonic Theater will present The Magic Flute Fantasy — a hip-hop musical version of the opera — this Saturday and Sunday at the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in Taipei and on June 9 at the Chungshan Hall in Greater Taichung. The most famous song in the musical is probably the elaborately florid aria “The vengeance of hell boils in my heart,” sung in Mandarin by the Queen of the Night. The aria is particularly technically demanding as it reaches a high pitch of F6, rarely heard in most operatic works.
Following on from the 2003 production of The Magic Flute Fantasy, which was performed in 12 consecutive shows and attracted about 12,000 viewers across Taiwan, the Taipei Philharmonic Theater will now present a whole new production which retains the structure of the opera’s classic segments and characters, but alters the storyline to enliven the characters with a playful spirit as they embark on a magical adventure surrounding the magic flute. The characters include the funny bird-catcher Papageno (played by Na Wei-hsun), the Queen of the Night (played by Huang Shuan-wen), the queen’s daughter Princess Pamina (played by Lin Tzu-yin), Prince Tamino (played by Chou Ming-yu), the bird-catcher’s love interest Papagena, (played by Maital Dakiludun), High Priest Sarastro (played by Tseng Chih-yuan), Sarastro’s servant Monostatos (played by Lin Yu-hsuan), and the three ladies (played by Chen Wen-hai, Chen Ying-ta, and Chang Hong-cheng).
It is worth mentioning that the costumes were designed by Lin Ping-hao, adding considerable visual splendor to the musical. Coincidentally, Lin is featured in the latest issue of Performing Arts Review, telling the story of his artistic trajectory in collaborating with performing arts troupes over his decade-long career. Conductor Ku told the Taipei Times on Monday that the orchestration is reduced to an 11-person ensemble, including drums and keyboards, thus mixing different musical genres to combine the classical work with contemporary elements of popular music, R&B, and rap to supplant the imagery of classical music. Director Shan said, “The Magic Flute Fantasy is a crossover production, which will render a great experience for performing arts enthusiasts to appreciate.”
(Lin Ya-ti, Taipei Times)