Florida Grand Opera
"Imaginative and hugely entertaining. A spectacular production."
SOUTH FLORIDA CLASSICAL REVIEW
Director: Jeffrey Marc Buchman
Choreographer: Rosa Mercedes
Lighting Designer: Donald Edmund Thomas
Set Design: Thierry Bosquet
Costume Design: Thierry Bosquet
Howard Tsvi Kaplan
"IMAGINE SEEING A FLUTE THAT WITHOUT CUTS, FELT TOO SHORT."
"Innovative and entertaining... ingenious adaptation...
We must recognize the superb work of the director of this production, who gave us three hours of pure enjoyment. The scenery, choreography and lighting in this production were extraordinary, and the costumes, wigs and animal designs deserve the highest praise."
DIARIO LAS AMERICAS
"A great deal this production’s considerable charm is due to the exceedingly clever and original staging by director Jeffrey Marc Buchman, which is chock full of delightfully oddball comedic touches and clever, laugh-out-loud pop culture references. Despite the considerable liberties it takes with the libretto, this FGO production actually stays quite true to the spirit of The Magic Flute’s original singspiel sensibility, with its audience-friendly melding of moral edification and raucous, rowdy fun.
One of the cleverest liberties taken by Buchman is to stage much of the action as the dream of an adolescent boy of the fifties. Thus we come upon the hero, Tamino, in his fifties décor boy’s bedroom, receiving the “book” of The Magic Flute from his dad (later seen as Sarastro, the Lord of the Temple of Wisdom) and reading himself to sleep as Mozart’s glorious overture plays. The bedroom scene then becomes a recurring tableau, and this framework adds a certain cohesion and plausibility to the phantasmagoric plot, while adding an air of nostalgic, retro wonder to the whole proceedings."
MIAMI SUN POST
"The opera begins ingeniously in a young boys bedroom; the father enters and gives the boy a storybook entitled, “The Magic Flute”. The boy clandestinely reads the book, falls asleep and dreams of this wonderful story. The Three Ladies come into his dreams and beckon him and the audience into a dreamlike netherworld. A world where there are evil queens, bird catchers, and little boy spirits. Throughout the opera, the boy’s bedroom resurfaces, reminding the audience that it is a dream, surreptitiously appearing and reappearing by sneaky little dancers that are – for this production – multi-purpose. Really, very smart. Well done, Mr. Buchman. Well done.
The First, Second, and Third Ladies were very well matched vocally and were comedically staged perfectly. Often, these Ladies can seem either too serious or too silly. In this production, they were equally regal and slapstick. In another brilliant move, Buchman has Sarastro play the young boy’s father in the opening scene. A little foretelling, anyone? I felt Buchman’s concept was unique and I loved it. I urge every Mozart lover, every opera lover and all those yet uninitiated into this fine world we operagoers inhabit – GO. This is an excellent performance, with an exceptional cast."
"Florida Grand Opera director Jeffrey Marc Buchman transports us to a mythical land in this new mounting of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, which opened at the Arsht Center in Downtown Miami last Saturday night. Whether Buchman had Neverland in mind when re-imagining Mozart’s masterpiece, or the fact that Peter Pan was “part bird” and played the flute, is mere speculation. Yet the premise of a father settling four rambunctious boys into bed, then giving the oldest a copy of The Magic Flute which he reads by flashlight and soon drifts off to dream, was a terrific vehicle to tell this timeless story of good versus evil.
FGO honors the witty tradition keeping the comedy and laughter flowing throughout the evening. The comedy was laced with the philosophies prevalent at the end of the 18th century, The Age of Enlightenment, where science and reason was employed over superstition and tradition.
As the father reappears in his son’s bedroom several key times during the show, we learn that he is the same character playing Sarastro. Mr. Darling, Captain Hook? Quite the contrary: Hook bad, Sarastro good."
"FGO’s production, directed by Jeffrey Marc Buchman, cleverly reimagines the story, along the lines of fantasy films
The Princess Bride or The Never Ending Story.
Tamino is a little boy who is being read from the storybook The Magic Flute at bedtime and as he drifts to sleep, the fantasy unfolds in his dreams. His father becomes the evil Sarastro and the toys in his ‘50s bedroom come to life in the unfolding adventure. Costume designer Thierry Bosquet and wig and makeup designer Christopher Diamantides merge the elements of Tamino’s conscious and unconscious worlds with clever boldness. While the dream scenes, set in the dark temple, and costumes of the priests are conventional, their Elvis Presley-inspired Papageno (complete with pompadour and accompanying dance moves) is brilliant."
SOUTH FLORIDA GAY NEWS
"But Florida Grand Opera offers an approach that could probably not be more fun, more charming, and more able to remove that cloud of tedium that so often creeps in. It is such a simple idea that it is surprising someone didn't conceptualize it this way a long time ago. Basically, Tamino and his little brothers are being raised by a single father. One night Dad brings his oldest son a book titled, “The Magic Flute.” Tamino turns out the light so his father won't know he is reading by flashlight. He falls asleep and the story takes over. Sounds pretty trite, but it offers a wealth of opportunity for designers, performers and choreographer. When the singing is also, for the most part solid, and the conductor shows tenderness and understanding of the music, even people who once disliked this opera will do some rethinking.
The audience is encouraged to actively bring its own experiences in order to make the emotions that much truer; and though this production might seem more geared toward American culture, with today's media making American symbols well known throughout the world, this Zauberflöte transcends cultures. The best recommendation for this performance is to imagine seeing a “Flute” that without cuts felt too short."
"Stage director Jeffrey Marc Buchman used the flashback sequences as a device to bookend the opera without dominating it. His direction allowed the jokes and plot to unfold briskly."
SOUTH FLORIDA CLASSICAL REVIEW
"But it's Buchman's vision that stands out. Before he transports us into this "Alice in Wonderland" fairy tale, he frames the opera as a "Wizard of Oz"-brand dream in which a 21st century teenager goes to sleep with a copy of the story during the overture and awakes to face a threatening dragon much larger than the stuffed one his brother taunted him with a few moments earlier."
FLORIDA THEATER ON STAGE
"The staging absolutely gets it right. In converting the piece into the dream of a modern youth, this production offers much symbolic meaning for the subconscious while never losing its charm... demonstrated by the huge ovation it received."
EL NUEVO HERALD
Tamino: Andrew Bidlack
Pamina: Lisette Oropesa
Papageno: Jonathan Michie
Queen of the Night: Jeanette Vecchione
Sarastro: Jordan Bisch
Speaker: Adam Lau
1st Priest: Matthew Newlin
2nd Priest: Graham Fandrei
Monostatos: Matthew Maness
1st Lady: Lacy Sauter
2nd Lady: Cynthia Cook
3rd Lady: Carla Jablonski
Papagena: Hye Jung Lee
1st Knabe: Andres Larrea
2nd Knabe: Charles Vega
3rd Knabe: Salvador Blanco
1st Armoured Man: Matthew Newlin
2nd Armoured Man: Ryan Milstead