Hub City Opera to present 'The Magic Flute'

September 19, 2012|By CHRIS COPLEY |
  • Two ladies of Queen of the Night's court, played by Francesca Aguado, left, and Katharine Hosier, listen to Prince Tamino, Jason Lee, as he plays a flute in Hub City Opera's production of "The Magic Flute."
Photo by Rob Murray

This weekend, Hub City Opera presents a fairy tale of a prince, a half-man-half-bird, the Queen of the Night, and a quest to rescue the Queen's daughter.

And that's just the first couple scenes of "The Magic Flute," one of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's most popular musical stories.

Hub City will present three performances of the show — Sunday, Sept. 23; Friday, Sept. 28, and Saturday, Sept. 29, all at Hagerstown Community College Kepler Auditorium, east of Hagerstown.

The production is lavish, according to Joe Marschner, HCC instructor and Hub City Opera founding board member, with splashy sets, colorful costumes and overhead translations of the German score.

"All of the dialogue is in English, and we have chosen to keep the original songs in German. They are just not as beautiful in the English translation," he said. "We project the (English) supertitles above the stage."

The story of "The Magic Flute" is pure fantasy. According to the Hub City Opera's website at, the bird-brained Papageno is desperate for some wine and a girlfriend. His new best friend, Prince Tamino, who sets out to rescue Pamina, the daughter of the Queen of the Night, drags Papageno along for the adventure, but he's as much nuisance as help. The story follows these two "heroes," armed with magical musical instruments, as they try to achieve their goals in a world where nothing is quite as it seems.

The story is perfect for children, and the opera company will present a special show for elementary students Friday, Sept. 21, at HCC.

"We're trying to get 400 students to see the show," Marschner said. "We're trying to introduce people to opera who might not have seen it before."

That goes for adults as well as children, he added. Marschner objected to the characterization that opera is slow and boring. 

"Nothing could be further from the truth. One of the biggest hurdles in opera is the need to get past the need for communication to happen immediately," he said. "Common complaints are that there's either too much recitative or very lengthy arias. But the point of arias is you're experiencing that person's passion."

Hub City is a three-year-old company based at Hagerstown Community College. The college offers space for practice and performance, which Marschner said is hugely helpful to the opera company's bottom line.

"It's not a cheap hobby. What really helps a lot is having the space at the college," he said. "We are a professional regional opera company that is fundraising-driven because ticket sales don't cover (costs)."

Marschner said Hub City Opera performs two fully staged operas and one concert opera each year. Production values are high for the full shows. Costumes are made by the costume designer that works at HCC, he said. And singers come from a wide area.

"Most of the singers are from the D.C. or Baltimore area," he said, "but we're getting resumes from (singers in) New York, Florida."

Professional opera singers look for opportunities to perform with regional companies like Hub City, Marschner said. That gives young singers a chance to develop, to learn roles.

"The Magic Flute" will be a fun, accessible show, Marschner said. It's perfect for newcomers to opera.

"There's a population out there," he said, "that if they got what it's about, they would love it."

If you go ...       

WHAT: Hub City Opera's performance of "The Magic Flute"

WHEN: 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 23; and 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28, and Saturday, Sept. 29

WHERE: Hagerstown Community College Kepler Auditorium, 11400 Robinwood Drive, east of Hagerstown

COST: Advance tickets are $20; students and seniors, $15


MORE: The opera, composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, will be sung in German with English dialogue and supertitles.

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