Society of Friends of Belgium in America
 

 

The Magic Flute

by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

April 9—15, 2007 (Four Performances),
as part of BAM Spring Season

Directed by William Kentridge
Conducted by Piers Maxim

A Co-Production of La Monnaie (Belgium), Opéra de Lille (France),
Théâtre de Caen (France), and Fondazione Teatro di San Carlo (Italy)
BAM Howard Gilman Opera House

   

For decades, South African artist William Kentridge has given expression to the brutal legacy of apartheid in drawings and films of haunting beauty. In turning to Mozart’s richly allegorical opera of a young man’s quest for love, a work poised at the pinnacle of Enlightenment idealism, Kentridge captures the era’s darker implications played out over centuries of conquest and offers a bold new vision of humanity. Mozart’s sublime score—stretching from the intimacy of arietta to the grandeur of fugue—is the backdrop for a work replete with echoes of colonialism: the hero Tamino appears as the great white hunter complete with safari uniform and rifle, a man with much to learn in a new land. But in joining a spiritual brotherhood led by the African high priest Sarastro, Tamino finds both himself and what it means to love, playing his part in defeating the evil Queen of the Night. Throughout the production, Kentridge’s interactive film set—stark images recalling the birth of black-and-white photography—invokes questions of perspective and astutely amplifies the themes of light and shadow, reason and chaos, that lie at the heart of The Magic Flute. The result is a work equally topical and timeless and, as John Allison notes in Opera, “one of the most original and strangely beautiful opera productions of our time.”

William Kentridge’s work has been exhibited in galleries and museums across the world, including the Venice Biennale, Museum of Modern Art, Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin, Palais des Beaux Arts Brussels, and the Instanbul Biennale, among many others. The Magic Flute represents his second collaboration with Belgium’s La Monnaie, following the 1998 and 2003 productions of Monteverdi’s Il Ritorno d’Ulisse created with Handspring Puppet Company.

 


 

Address by Francois de Visscher
Chairman of the Society of Friends of Belgium in America
delivered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on April 9, 2007
following the performance of The Magic Flute

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

As the Chairman of the Society of Friends of Belgium in America, I stand befor you this evening to thank the Brooklyn Academy of Music for it's foresight and artistic tast in showcasing this thrillin presentation of The Magic Flute, this wonderful production by master, WIlliam Kentridge.

I shall leave it to the professionals here to praise the talent and genius of the producer and the cast, but please allow me to say a few words of praise for my fellow Belgian, Bernard Foccroulee, for th role he played in this truly multi-cultrual work of art. This grew out of a 4-way partnership of great European cities: Naples, Lille, Caen, and, of course, Brussels, that fertile cultural terrain that is the capital of Belgium. His Leadership has make it possible for the Theatre de la Monnaie to pursue an adventurous path in the world of opera, always willing to take on a challenge and not to be constrained by the conventional.

As a Belgian, I am particularyly proud that it is the Theatre de la Monnaie, the Brussels Opera Company, which is responsible for the American premiere of this masterpiece. The magical qualities of the piece enchant, with out diminishing the human dram, the universal struggle between Good and Evil. The magnificent voices, the excellent acting skills, the international character of the cast, the producer the director, even the audience, all the different strands, blend smoothly into a single stream of universal enjoyment and human understanding.

I would also like to salute the Permanent Representative of Belgium to the United Nations, Ambassador Johan Verbeke, and the Consul General of Belgium in New York, Mrs. Renilde Loeckx for having lent their support to this magnificent production. It is, in fact, for us, a way to celebrate Belgium’s recent installation as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, where Belgium is expected to take up its responsibilities for the maintenance of international peace and security. I am grateful that Belgium is being honored here tonight by the presence of many countries, which are represented by their Ambassadors to the United Nations and other dignitaries.

In closing, and on behalf of the Society of Friends of Belguim, I would like to thank most enthusiastically the entire cast for its exciting performance and for the enjoyment they have brought to us all.

 

The Society of Friends of Belgium in America operates under the auspices of
the Ambassador of Belgium to the United States and the Consul General of Belgium in New York.

 

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