I opened up my email this morning to find a promotional email from Boston Lyric Opera. "Two Great Ways to Dazzle Your Kids!" exclaimed the subject. Inside were advertisements for two upcoming events: a family-friendly performance of Magic Flute and a backstage look at Rusalka targeted at kids ages 11-17.
Curious, I read up on the Magic Flute performance. They are presenting a fully-staged, abridged version in English. Their blurb describes "Magical instruments…A wicked queen…An imprisoned princess…A courageous prince… Will Prince Tamino’s magic flute be enough to protect him on his quest to save the lovely Princess Pamina? The ultimate adventure opera!" A later description written to appeal to parents promises fairy tale elements celebrating courage, virtue, and wisdom.
This promotion seems to fit in with what we've been discussing all semester: trying to figure out ways to bring in new audiences and appeal to the public in new ways. I think it's great that BLO is aware of this need and doing what it can to "reach out." They even offer some PDF "study guides" as well that offer background on Mozart and a plot summary of the opera, which is great. Most of these seemed fairly well-done, although the "Magic Math" definitely needs some help (or perhaps just to be eliminated all together). I'd be curious to see how they cut Magic Flute to fit into an hour and how audiences respond. I know Magic Flute is supposed to be one of Mozart's great works, but I've always found the plot a bit lacking and decidedly sexist (though Mozart should, I suppose, not be blamed for being a product of his time). But all the same, kudos to BLO for exploring ways to make opera more accessible to kids and families.