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Magic Flute’s Magic Revealed

CFA students on creating the set of latest opera


“Boston is such a Mozart town,” says Jeremy Barnett (CFA’09), the scenic designer for the current production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute by the College of Fine Arts. “It’s an opera that’s easy to enjoy, whether you’re an opera person or not.”

More than 200 years after the opera premiered in Vienna in 1791, The Magic Flute’s music, images, and story continue to enthrall audiences. But the images that make up the production, ranging from dark forests with looming, surrealistic trees to golden temples with arches and columns that push the literal boundaries of the stage, are only part of the story. “The real magic is how it’s assembled,” says technical director Brian McVicker (CFA’09). “It’s the engineering solutions that become a huge part of getting a show up.”

Barnett was given the task of designing the set for The Magic Flute, prompting him to take a careful look at the plot and setting. “In a show like this, that has so many different scenes, you look very carefully at the space, at how the world moves from one place to another,” he says. “Those transitions are very important — are you ushering those characters through the world of the opera?”

The final set, realized with the help of McVicker and the construction team, explodes with imaginative shapes and bold colors — a fitting tribute, Barnett hopes, to the character of the show. “Why do people keep coming to this?” he asks. “Because the music is phenomenal. Because it really is uplifting. This is a piece that just makes you feel good; it’s very positive. And at the same time you feel like you’re getting something out of it. It’s not feel-good fluff — it’s life-affirming.”

The Magic Flute, a collaboration between the CFA school of music’s Opera Institute and the school of theatre, runs from February 21 to 24 at the Boston University Theatre, 264 Huntington Ave. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday and at 2 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are free for BU students, $20 for the general public, and $15 for BU alumni, Huntington Theatre Company subscribers, WGBH members, students, and seniors and may be purchased by calling 617-933-8600, or online.

Devin Hahn can be reached at dhahn@bu.edu.

Photo by Vernon Doucette


5 Comments on Magic Flute’s Magic Revealed

  • DesignerDad on 02.21.2008 at 2:05 pm

    Magic Flute

    Great idea! Loved seeing the design process for the opera—drawings, models, etc. These guys deserve a curtain call! Keep up the good work!

  • Deanna on 02.22.2008 at 2:34 am

    This video is great, I can’t wait to see the show finally! It’s great to see BUT get some nice footage :)

  • Tommy Barth on 02.22.2008 at 9:08 am

    Can't wait!

    I’ve heard great things, guys! Can’t wait to see it.

  • Anonymous on 02.22.2008 at 11:45 am

    Magic Flute video

    Excellent video! The public rarely gets the opportunity to see what goes on behind the scene but we know that it is monumental. Thanks for sharing~

  • Anonymous on 02.23.2008 at 2:38 pm

    Great behind the scenes peek!

    Rarely do we get such a great look behind the scenes! I wanted to see more. The set was amazing–rich colors, imaginitive design. Wish I lived in Boston so I could see it. Kudos to the members of BU CFA for the amazing work! I’m sure we will be seeing more or Mr. Barnett and Mr. McViker.

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