New Venue Is ‘No Problem’

by Erin Guzman

The music department’s performance of Mozart’s last written opera cannot be silenced due to lack of space.

The Magic Flute will be performed in Lekberg Hall, which is located in the Amy Robertson Music Center, instead of the usual opera venue in Pote Theatre due to the construction on the Blank Performing Arts Center. The cast of the fall opera had no choice but to condense the set and to accommodate the space differences.

Assistant Professor of Music and Stage Director of the fall opera Bruce Brown feels that the changes in venue present challenges to the already interesting opera.

“This opera was originally done for a theatre in Vienna that was pretty high tech for its time,” Brown said. “There were trap doors and complex lighting and a very unique design. We won’t be able to have any of that with this performance, but the musical quality of the production won’t be lacking.”

The Magic Flute combines elements of a comedy with the suspense and wonder of a fairytale.

Set in Egypt, a prince named Tamino encounters a serpent, some mysterious characters and many trials to rescue his love, a maiden named Pamina, who is being held captive by an evil sorcerer. In an attempt to rescue her, Tamino, played by junior John Humphrey, must complete tasks at the bidding of Pamina’s mother, the Queen of the Night, to prove he is worthy of her daughter’s love.

Unlike other operas done at Simpson in the past, this one focuses more on mythology than history.

“It has something for everyone,” Humphrey said. “The opera has a lot of mystery, sorcery, and mythological creatures…and it’s funny.”

The cast and crew also had to get creative to keep the key elements of the production intact when dealing with the lack of space. Junior Shelby Hendryx, who plays one of the three ladies that rescue Tamino in the first act, shares some of the challenges involved with working in Lekberg.

“Lekberg is a recital hall, so it’s really only meant for solo singers or ensembles,” Hendryx said. “We’ve had to cut the orchestra that we normally would have had in Pote down to just a piano, a string quartet, and a flute. There’s also limited backstage space.”

In addition to little room for the sets, fewer seats are also a challenge.

“There is potential for seating issues, but that’s because we usually sell out for almost every performance,” Brown said. “There’s actually more seating in Lekberg than there is in Barnum, but I would advise people to make reservations as soon as possible.”

There is something to be said about Simpson’s opera productions selling out on a consistent basis.

“Other schools take six months to put on an opera,” Humphrey noted. “We can get everything together in three weeks to a month. It just shows you how hard we work.”

The professors, coaches and directors are very dedicated to helping students grow in their process of learning and performing.

“Doing opera at Simpson has challenged me to be at my best,” Hendryx said. “This will be my fifth opera at Simpson, and I can say that I’ve progressed in gaining real experience as a performer, and have developed skills to help me learn music quickly and efficiently.”

Mozart’s The Magic Flute will be performed in Lekberg Hall on Oct. 15 -16th at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 17th at 2 p.m.

Tickets are available through the box office on campus and can be purchased by calling 515-961-1601 or emailing [email protected]. To place a ticket order online visit Tickets cost $12 for the general public, but are free for Simpson students and faculty.