Westmont Stages Mozart’s ‘Magic Flute’

"The Magic Flute" stars John Butler as Papageno, Michelle Vera as the Queen of the Night and Jessica Lingua as Pamina

“The Magic Flute” stars Fritz Mora as Tamino, Michelle Vera as the Queen of the Night and Jessica Lingua as Pamina

“The Magic Flute” unites the creative powers of Westmont’s music and theater arts departments in an exciting new production of Mozart’s comic opera. Performances take place March 1, 3 and 5 at 7 p.m. at the New Vic Theater. Purchase tickets, which cost $20 for general admission and $15 for students and seniors, at newvictheater.com

John Blondell, Westmont professor of theater arts, directs the production with Michael Shasberger, Adams professor of music and worship, overseeing the music. Their successful collaborations include “The Pirates of Penzance,” “Dido and Aeneas” and “Die Fledermaus.”

“Few small colleges tackle these productions,” Blondell says. “I’m proud of the departments and students who want to grapple and engage with this great material. It’s always such a joy and a marvel to work with Michael, who has such tremendous skill in teaching the material and the musical artistry to develop musical direction for the choral and instrumental works.”

Michelle Vera, The cast features Fritz Mora as Tamino, John Butler as Papageno, Jessica Lingua as Pamina and Michelle Vera as the Queen of the Night Magic Flute

Michelle Vera

Blondell fell in love with the music while watching Ingmar Bergman’s performance and passed that love onto his children. “It’s the music that deeply captivates me and carries me along a series of theatrical questions of how to best express and allow it to become fully alive and present in the imaginations and hearts of the audience,” he says. “The score has one ravishing number after the next. There is a beauty, lushness and transparency to the music that I find completely irresistible.”

The show, which features 17 musicians and 24 cast members, includes many challenges, especially building sets on campus and then presenting it in Santa Barbara. “We’re using many of the simple stage elements at the New Vic, such as their draperies, drops, act curtains, some architectural elements and the ability to fly things in and out very quickly,” Blondell says. “I hope to create a show that is constantly unfolding with different dimensions and feels like it’s going to deeper and more interesting theatrical possibilities and solutions.”

“The Magic Flute” combines songs and spoken lines in a range of dramatic styles. Blondell says the simple fairy story explores complex questions such as: Where does love come from? How do we find the right person? And what are the trials and tribulations that people go through in the process of being in love? “Those are vibrant and vital questions for many generations of people,” Blondell says.

The cast features Fritz Mora as Tamino, John Butler as Papageno, Jessica Lingua as Pamina and Michelle Vera as the Queen of the Night.