Opera Memphis' pop culture-obsessed general director Ned Canty compares Mozart's The Magic Flute to Star Wars. Of course, he does.
"You've got this feckless kid with nothing to do," Canty elaborates. "So he has to go off and rescue a princess. It's got a lot of that whole Joseph Campbell thing happening." As visiting director Alison Moritz prepared to stage Mozart's sprawling comedy, with its 30-foot snake and its magical, mystical elements, she turned to adventure films like Raiders of the Lost Ark and Romancing the Stone for inspiration. Although the opera is set in Memphis, Egypt, Moritz' production is set in the South American rainforest. It is additionally inspired by Robert Driver, a native Memphian who was the general director of Opera Memphis before Canty's predecessor Michael Ching.
- The Magic Flute
"Driver's family was in the cotton trade," Canty says. "As a kid, he spent a lot of time in South America, and this production is inspired, in part, by his memories of being in the rainforest."
Opera Memphis' production of The Magic Flute stars Sean Panikkar, a member of the opera trio Forte that wowed America's Got Talent judges in 2013. For a sample of his powerful tenor voice and quirky aesthetic, just google his name and "Game of Thrones." You'll discover a video of Panikkar and his partners in Forte running around Ireland with swords belting the popular show's theme song written in High Valyrian. It's some nerdy stuff and a fantastic appetizer before Mozart's comic feast.