"The Magic Flute for Kids"
By Marcus Weiss
A byline, I found out today, is when a newspaper article says
on top that it is BY somebody. "By Marcus Weiss" is my byline,
my first one, but that's OK because I am only 7. I am already
in second grade, in Sunset Elementary School, which is a very
good one, see the website at
This is a story about the San Francisco Opera's "Magic Flute for
Kids" that I saw this afternoon, with my friend Janos. He writes
stories about operas, but he asked me to write this one because,
he said, I am a kid and he isn't. I said OK, if he takes care
of the spelling, and finds out the names of the singers.
I also must say that this was not my first opera. My Grannie
Susan and my Grandpa George have been ushers in the War Memorial
Opera House for many years (Grannie says more than 30), and they
let me see operas and, especially, ballet, which I like even
more. For operas, my favorite is "The Pearl Fishers" because it
has dancing in it, and I also saw half of an opera about a prison.
(Janos thinks it's called "Fidelio.")
The first thing I thought when I saw the stage today, with the
chairs for the orchestra and lots of kids sitting on the floor,
was that there is no space for dancing..
I saw only the chairs for the musicians because they didn't come
in until the show began. They were led by Donald Runnicles, the
conductor, playing a drum, and they played music like a marching
band. The boss of the Opera, Pamela Rosenberg, spoke to welcome
us, and she said "girls and boys," putting girls first, but
that's OK with me.
In the back of the stage, there was a big picture of the balcony,
looking back at the real balcony of the house, and neither Janos
nor I know what that meant. It showed us that we were in the
Opera House, but I already knew that.
After playing what Mr. Runnicles said was part of the overture,
the bird-catcher Papageno (played by Lucas Meachem) came through
the audience, and he was talking to us for a long time about all
kinds of things, then suddenly mentioned this prince, Tamino,
and Sean Panikkar, who played the prince, sang, and that was
very beautiful - only when Jane Archibald sang the Queen of the
Night, with very high notes, was as good.
There were words I didn't understand in the story - and almost
nothing in the singing, and I didn't see supertitles either,
which helped in "The Pearl Fishers" - such as "trial" and
"initiation." Also I don't know what "incongruous" means, which
is what Janos said when suddenly the story stopped and Mr.
Runnicles introduced the instruments in the orchestra, and we
had to yell out the names of each. With only one hour for the
whole show, half the time was about something else. Then there
was more "Magic Flute" and then some more instruments, and
suddenly make-believe animals were all over the place, in the
audience, dancing to Papageno's magic bells, and that was cool,
especially because I didn't think there would be any ballet.
Then Papageno said the prince and the lady he loved (Kimwana
Doner was the name of the very good singer) "reached the height
of human pleasure" and I think that's the same as "happy ending."
Oh, and when Papageno wanted to kill himself before because of
Nikki Einfeld (the really cute Papagena he didn't meet yet), Ms.
Rosenberg came out, dressed as a golden tree, with a noose hanging
from her, so Papageno could hang himself. In the program, there
was a star next to Ms. Rosenberg's name, and on the bottom of
the page, there was the explanation: "San Francisco Opera debut."
Even for her first time, I thought she was a very funny tree.
I didn't understand the story (what kind of name is "Monastotos"
and what was he doing there?), but I agree with Janos that the
important thing is the music, and that's really nice. I kind of
liked everything, but would have liked less talk and more music
and dance. Maybe I will think differently when I grow up, but
now I think music is the most important thing about opera. As
the prize for writing this review, I got a CD of "The Marriage
of Figaro" and I will listen to it soon.
If you want to see my picture, it's at
http://home.earthlink.net/~janos451/marcus3.jpg. Bye now.
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