This news release describes past events and should be used for historical purposes only. Please note date of release.
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Schofield Hall 218
Eau Claire, WI 54702-4004
University Theatre to
Present 'The Magic Flute'
phone (715) 836-4741
fax (715) 836-2900

MAILED: Feb. 16, 1999

EAU CLAIRE — In W.A. Mozart's day, most operas were written specifically for an important event or person. But late in his life, Mozart broke this rule to write "The Magic Flute" for a friend who ran a dinner theater.
As a result, "The Magic Flute" was written for a middle-class audience, not nobility. Because of the unusual circumstances under which this opera was written, "the music is very accessible — very direct and simple," Robert Knight, associate professor of theatre arts at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, said of the play, which will open Feb. 25 at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
Knight, the play's director, said most performers in Mozart's "The Magic Flute" were from the lower tier in terms of performers. Mozart chose to use "popular singers of the day, not classically trained artists," Cheryl Starr, associate professor of theater arts, explained.
"The music is easy to understand because there's really only one character that is a flowery, dazzling singer and she appears the least," Knight said. "The other singers are more down to earth."
"The opera's story was appropriate for its intended audience because the middle-class population of Vienna was obsessed with magic," Starr said.
"The Magic Flute" is a story of good versus evil with mystical elements and magical characters combined, Knight said.
He also said Mozart's motivation to write the opera came from the Enlightenment; he wanted to remind people of what they had. "The Magic Flute" explores the idea that a person doesn't need to be wealthy to attain truth or happiness, Knight said.
The forces of good and evil in the opera could be metaphors for the different social classes of Vienna, Knight said. Mozart didn't want to play up real evil; he just wanted to illustrate that the different social classes don't understand each other, he said.
UW-Eau Claire's version of "The Magic Flute" will differ from the original because Mozart's version contained some offensive remarks pertaining to women, Knight said.
The UW-Eau Claire theatre arts department hired a professional tenor from the Twin Cities for the performance. "For students, having a professional around is a real help for them to see what they will be doing in a few years," Knight said.
"The Magic Flute" opens at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 25 in Gantner Concert Hall of the Haas Fine Arts Center. Additional performances are slated for 7:30 p.m. Feb. 26-27 and March 4-5, and a matinee performance is slated for 1:30 p.m. Feb. 28.
Tickets, available at the University Service Center, (715) 836-3727, are $8 for adults, $6 for seniors or children under 18, and $5 for students, faculty or staff with a university ID.


UWEC [Administrative Offices] [News Bureau]

Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Schofield 218
(715) 836-4741

Updated: Feb. 16, 1999