Friday, May 13, 2011

Checking in with Chris Alexander

Chris Alexander, stage director of both The Magic Flute and (coming up next at Seattle Opera) Porgy and Bess, stopped by and we asked him about the first few performances of his Flute.

Were you pleased with the opening night performance?

Saturday evening, there was a moment of suspense there because we had some trouble with one of our curtains opening and closing. The wonderful Yasmine Kiss, who is our stage manager, saved the show. When the iris didn’t move for the scene change into Papageno's suicide, she got everybody downstage and they entered from another direction. The problem was fixed right before the eight Papageni “chicks” came on, thank goodness. I was sitting in the house, and there really was a tense moment, but it worked out and we were so relieved.

And how about the Sunday performance, which featured the debuts of all five principal singers?

It’s really thrilling to see both casts, and the Sunday cast did a wonderful job with the matinee. The matinee was, I thought, a little more relaxed than the opening evening.

What surprised you most about the performances so far?

Well, I was thrilled by what Mari Moriya, our second Queen of the Night, did. She’s amazing, every time she does the Queen of the Night, she adds something to it. It’s evolving into an immense performance. So she really surprised me in a wonderful way. And Papageno, with the audience reacting to everything he says or does, really came out of his shell [laughs].

Mari Moriya (Queen of the Night)
Photo by Rozarii Lynch

You're pleased with the audience reaction?

Yes, the audience is having fun with it, and that was very important to me. I like it that they respond with laughter and sometimes even hissing to some of the statements made by Sarastro and his priests, which is what we were expecting. And one of the most special moments is the entrance of the eight chicks--people go crazy over that!

The first big laugh in the show comes in the first number, when the dragon snorts out steam as it dies. That’s where you basically introduce yourself to the audience, telling them what your show is going to be like.

That’s it exactly. We were considering taking the puff out because it leaves a trace of powder on the stage. We were asking “Oh, should we even use it?” And I thought that we had to. That's the introduction to the production’s style.

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