Posted February 09, 2017

Posted February 9, 2017

Excerpts ​from Interpret This“, article* by Harry SilversteinDirector of The Magic Flute, a 2012 Kaneko-Gockley production, and Professor of Voice and Opera, DePaul University School of Music:
“When I am teaching the techniques useful for creating an elegant performance, I always begin with a discussion of the difference between artists of interpretation and artists of origination.  When the class is confident we understand the distinction, we are able to identify ourselves as interpreters.  In this light, Mozart is an artist of origination, he wrote the opera, while I think of singers, orchestra players, conductors, directors such as myself, and designers as artists of interpretation.  As such, it is our responsibility to take the work of genius that is The Magic Flute and using our talents, skills, and efforts make it an experience worthy of sharing with those who have come to spend time with us, investigating together the journey that is an opera.

Interpretation begins with recognizing its key parts.  First we must have an understanding of the original material.  This is a great challenge:  we must attempt to ascertain the intent of the composer and the librettist, taking into account the time and place of the original composition, and its setting.  We study the story, listen to the music, feel the emotions, and experience the work’s progression, making every possible intellectual and emotional effort to understand it fully.  It is not enough to know the plot, since after all, The Magic Flute is no more than a simple fairy story of wicked queens and princesses than Jack and The Beanstalk is a tale told only to explain giants, or boys, or geese, or even agriculture.  So, we wonder, what ideas did Mozart and Schikaneder wish to communicate through their story?  …..

Our next step in interpretation is to express Mozart’s and Schikaneder’s original ideas in our own words and images, based on a clear understanding of what we wish to communicate with our story telling….we must find a way to set the ideas of the composers into actions and images meaningful to the public that will hear and see our work. The ideas must coalesce into a production that expresses the plot and themes of The Magic Flute in terms of visual and physical actions that will allow the contemporary viewer to understand the same ideas and experience the same emotions as the audience at the Freihaus-Theater audience der Wieden in Vienna on the opening night of 30th of September, 1791.

As twenty-first-century interpreters, we have been inspired to create images and actions in a minimalistic and expressionistic way that would likely be obtuse to a late eighteenth-century audience, but is immediate, appropriate, and we hope exciting for a contemporary public.”

* ​Full article in:  ​”Jun Kaneko: The Magic Flute”, Jun Kaneko, 2012 by Laurence King Publishing Ltd, p.24.

A documen​tary video on ceramic artist Jun Kaneko’s journey in creating and designing the set, costumes, and makeup for The Magic Flute: