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The Magic Flute opera set for THT stage

MIDDLEBURY — Written in the final year of his life, Mozart’s “The Magic Flute”has proved to be one of the best loved and most performed operas in history. Opera Company of Middlebury closes its 13th season with a staged-concert version at Middlebury’s Town Hall Theater on Oct. 13-15.
It’s an OCM tradition to cast its fall production with alumni of the company. “We like to have long-term relationships with our singers,” said OCM artistic director Douglas Anderson. “When we fall in love with somebody we want to grow with them, and to offer them new challenges. So our fall production is particularly fun, for both the staff and our audience, because we know and love every one of the returning singers.”
The leading role of Prince Tamino will be played by tenor Bray Wilkins, who starred as Lensky in the company’s “Eugene Onegin”and as Aeneas in “Dido and Aeneas.” “Bray is the sweetest guy imaginable,” says Anderson, “and he’s one of the best singer-actors I know.” Opposite him will be Vermonter Sarah Cullins in the role of Pamino. “We hire singers from all across the country, but when we find high-quality Vermont talent we latch on and don’t let go. Sarah is terrific, and I believe this is her fifth show with the company.”
Other singers audiences may remember are Sara Petrocelli (the mezzo who starred in “Dido and Aeneas”)and Bevin Hill (“La Rondine,” “Dido and Aeneas”).
OCM’s “staged concert” productions can actually be quite elaborate. Many companies have added this type of show to their seasons, with a chorus sitting upstage and often the orchestra on the stage as well. Anderson’s staged-concert offerings are visually quite striking, and can have the heft of a full production.
To achieve the storybook quality he’s looking for, Anderson enlisted Alyce Schermerhorn, art teacher at Mary Hogan Elementary School, and her students to design several of the props and costume pieces for the show. “They had a two-week camp at the school last summer in which I talked with the kids about the opera and they set about creating these magical pieces.” Anderson will be speaking to the entire 4th through 6th grades about the opera and his approach to it, and one performance will be specifically for Mary Hogan students.
Maestro Jeffrey Rink conducts the OCM Orchestra, with Susanne Peck directing the Middlebury College Choir. Douglas Anderson directs. The shows are Thursday, Oct. 13 and Friday, Oct. 14, at 7:30 p.m., with a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday, Oct. 15. Tickets $40-$50. For tickets go to: www.townhalltheater.org, call 382-9222, or visit the THT Box Office Monday-Saturday, noon-5 p.m.

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