This magical, colorful production is inspired by the paintings of Maxfield Parrish and fantasy pop-up books.


Indiana University Opera 2009


Mozart’s ‘The Magic Flute’ from Indiana Public Media

November 16, 2009

The IU Opera theatre's production of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” Die Zauberflote is a wonderfully colorful evening of cleverness, wit and whimsy that doesn’t sacrifice a note of the music, the weighty messages that the Masonic Mozart include, or the humanity of his characters. The new sets and costumes from David Higgins vary from the spectacular to the simple with lots of clever little variations. His costumes use a variety of color palettes, styles and textures to separate the characters and the groups clearly just as Mozart varied music does. Throughout “The Magic Flute” stage director Tomer Zvulun has worked to see that the characters aren’t just stick figures who sing. There were nice little personal touches. The prince feels challenged and has his doubts. The bird catcher is a comic, but one with all too human concerns. The Queen of the Night is perhaps a misguided villainess, but she’s also a caring mother. There was plenty of action throughout. At the same time, Zvulun didn’t hesitate to stage a quintet with all five of the singers lined right up across the stage in a formal array. One of the highlights of this production is the bird and animal puppets created by Lisa Sturz. They are wonderful whimsical creations and some of the best acting in the show comes from the feathered folk. They fly about, comment on the action, bill, coo, scrap and even eat out of the bird catcher’s hand. Later the menagerie is expanded with a giraffe, a kinkajou and just the cutest little porcupine that you can imagine. Parents or grand parents who’re looking for a first opera for a child might want to think about the first act of “The Magic Flute” as a wonderful introduction. The singing is in German, but the dialog and most of the humor is in English, it’s very active and the puppets are great. Adults will want to stay for the second act.

Set, costumes are stars of "Magic Flute" from HERALD TIMES REVIEWER

November 16, 2009

David Higgins who conceived and designed the sets and costumes, provided an eye-catching environment that envelops the action for Mozart’s timeless entertainment. Even the composer makes an appearance amid the clever happenings that animate the Musical Arts Center stage. Panels open, slide, lift, and fold to shape seemingly effortless scene changes. Canopies and backdrops lower and rise. Gardens, grottos and assorted props glide in and out. And to help satisfy the fairy tale elements of the story, there’s a huge and squiggly dragon. There are birds that nibble and peck. There are full-sized, huggable animals. All, of course, are make-believe and brought to life by puppeteers Higgins’ imagination has made everything possible. His cohort in this endeavor is stage director Tomer Zvulun, a young Israeli visiting from the Metropolitan Opera and elsewhere who sought ways to imbue this Mozart classic with the right blend of fantasy, magic, majestic ceremony and mirth. The team has managed to do so, with excellent help from Marie Barrett’s evocative lighting.