Arts and Entertainment

A night of magic

A scene from “The Magic Flute.” - Contributed photo
A scene from “The Magic Flute.”
— image credit: Contributed photo

The first time I heard the “Queen of the Night” aria from “The Magic Flute” I was 14. It was one of those memories I can still see, or should I say hear, clearly. It was my first delicious taste of Mozart’s work. I loved the power of the orchestra pushing forward like stars exploding. The soprano’s voice was dark and resonating and then magically high, light and bright sailing overhead – it was an inhuman sound. It was the most beautiful sound on earth.

For years I chased the dream of hitting those high Fs and taking to the stage in all the fury and splendor of a great diva. I studied music for eight years, but when the road I walked started to split, I chose a different path – shutting my music books and picking up the pen starting what would be a career in journalism. But I still carry a love for opera with me. Several weeks ago I attended the HD screening of the opera “Otello” at Orcas Center and was transported into a world of high drama, sweeping choral music, sword fights and heartbreaking arias.

“Isn’t it amazing that we can see this quality of a show right here on the island?” said Artha Kass, the center’s front of house manager, in the lobby during intermission.

I had to agree. Here we were on the other side of the country watching the famous soprano Renee Fleming sing her heart out at the Metropolitan Opera House. It was also wonderful to see Kass’ contagious delight in opera.

Seven years ago, Kass started watching these screenings from the Met at a theater in Mt. Vernon, Wash. At some point she and Deborah Sparks, theatre productions director, decided they had to bring these shows to Orcas. They received a grant and started fundraising.

“We eventually had to turn people away,” said Kass about the overwhelming financial support from the community.

Since the beginning of the opera screenings, Kass has been to every show.

“I’ve seen more Met shows here than I ever did when I lived in New York because I couldn’t afford to go as often,” she said.

And the shows continue. “The Tempest” was shown last Sunday and “The Magic Flute” is showing Saturday, Dec. 1, 6:30 p.m. at Orcas Center. This abridged 100-minute version, sung in English, is perfect for opera fans of all ages. Tony Award winner Julie Taymor of “The Lion King” directs a youthful cast conducted by Metropolitan Opera Music Director James Levine. There will dancing bears, giant birds, and a healthy dose of drama.

'Puppets and Wearable Art'

The Orcas Center Art Show “Puppets and Wearable Art” sponsored by the Visual Arts Committee is Saturday, Dec. 1, 4 - 6:15 p.m.

The reception will have live music, hearty food and an opportunity for families to make sock and paper bag puppets. Beverly Leyman will be presenting a dramatized reading of “The Magic Flute.”

Starting Wednesday, Nov. 28, three golden flutes will be hid around Eastsound and the finders of these instruments will receive four free tickets to the upcoming show.

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