Opera Neo Announces Release Dates For First of its Kind Fully Virtual Magic Flute Movie in Four Episodes
Opera Neo will release the first of four episodes of its full virtual production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute (Die Zauberflöte) on August 15, 2020. The pioneering production uses green screen technology to bring together singers in virtual environments, accompanied by a symphony orchestra, to create a fully immersive operatic experience, all performed from the homes of the artists around the country.
SAN DIEGO – August 11, 2020 – Opera Neo is delighted to present a first of its kind endeavor: a fully-realized production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute (Die Zauberflöte), created entirely from the homes of the artists, around the United States and abroad.
The production will be released in four episodes, beginning on Saturday, August 15 at 6:00pm PDT. With direction by David Radamés Toro, and music direction, cinematography, and video editing by Opera Neo Artistic Director and producer Peter Kozma, the project combines the work of over 65 artists, including singers, orchestra members, graphic designers, and a sound engineer.
This unique collaboration began in late May and is culminating in the release of a virtually crafted operatic mini-series. The use of technology to synthesize performances into a cohesive whole evolved out of the need for remote collaboration, since artists cannot be physically together.
“The onset of the pandemic left all of us in the opera world reeling,” says the company’s Hungarian-born artistic director, Peter Kozma. “But we realized that even with pandemic-induced budget constraints, we couldn’t sit back; we wanted to create an opportunity for our artists to come together and share their work with our audience.”
Access to each individual episode is $7.99, or $23.97 for all four, available on the company’s website, www.operaneo.com. Episodes are 30-40 minutes each and, and will be available on-demand for a year following their release. The opera is sung in German with English dialogues and supertitles.
Opera NEO Rises to the Occasion with a Rewarding Virtual Cabaret Concert
August 9, 2020
Saturday, August 8, Opera NEO revived and reinvented its cabaret night, a traditional festivity held the week before the opening of its annual summer festival, online. Nearly every aspect of the popular cabaret night at the Encinitas Public Library—walking your plate through the sumptuous dinner buffet line, sitting down to a cozy table of longtime opera friends or just-met NEO aficionados, and a stage filled with clever duets and vivacious ensembles from operetta and musical theater—is verboten during the current pandemic.
For Saturday’s online cabaret, company director Peter Kozma and his crew put together a dozen solo performances, each recorded at home by singers from the company who are also working on Opera NEO’s online presentation of Mozart’s The Magic Flute to be aired later this week. The particular advantage of this format proved to be the short interview each singer gave before their performance, allowing each member of the audience—sitting at home watching their Zoom screen—to acquire both a sense of who the singer actually is in addition to the persona presented in their song.
- Ken Herman, San Diego Story
Opera NEO’s 2020 Summer Opera Festival the Latest Coronavirus Fatality–But Virtual Performances of ‘The Magic Flute’ Will Triumph Online
April 27, 2020
San Diego’s younger opera company, Opera NEO, announced today the cancellation of its annual Summer Opera Festival due to the current coronavirus pandemic. With concerts slated in mid-July, 2020, and staged opera performances at UC San Diego’s Mandeville Auditorium slated to open in early August, company Artistic Director Peter Kozma and his Board of Directors decided that bringing to San Diego some 30 young artists and the necessary festival staff from all parts of the country was both unwise and unlikely even two months from today.
Ambitious productions of Charles Gounod’s Faust and Jean-Philippe Rameau’s Platée have been reassigned to the 2021 season, but the scheduled Magic Flute of Mozart will be streamed online [beginning August 15] on the company’s website[.] Each performer will record their part at home, and these individual components will be fused into a single virtual production.
“We decided on The Magic Flute because it is a widely popular opera by a signature composer, and the steady tempos and closed forms of Mozart’s classical style would be easier to put together,” explained Kozma. “Also, this opera has the largest cast of the three operas we had scheduled, so it will involve the greatest number of singers we had engaged for the festival.
“Under the stage direction of [David Radamés Toro], we will rehearse together on Zoom, in the same way so many classes are being taught at the moment, and we are sending out piano ‘tracks’ to each singer to prepare them for the rehearsals.”
In terms of costumes, the company’s costume director will contact each performer to coordinate attire, and matching hand props will be mailed to each singer.
Since the company cannot rely on the usual box office income, it has established the Opera NEO Artist Relief Emergency Fund to which the public may make contributions: [operaneo.com/support].
Opera NEO Offers Mozart, Gounod, and Rameau in Promising 2020 Summer Opera Festival
February 19, 2020
Following a pattern that has won devoted audiences, the Opera NEO Summer Opera Festival announced its August 2020 season: two repertory favorites, Charles Gounod’s Faust and Mozart’s The Magic Flute, complemented by a Baroque rarity, Jean Philippe Rameau’s Platée. Staging these three operas in UC San Diego’s spacious Mandeville Auditorium is a sign of Opera NEO’s steady development over the last eight seasons.
Artistic Director Peter Kozma will open this year’s festival on August 9 conducting The Magic Flute, with stage direction by Ophélie Wolf, who made her Opera NEO debut last season directing Rossini’s La Cenerentola. Although Mozart’s Italian language operas set to Lorenzo da Ponte’s librettos, especially Don Giovanni and The Marriage of Figaro, are Mozart’s best known operas, The Magic Flute, written at the height of his creative prowess—after the da Ponte operas—was clearly the greatest operatic success of the composer’s career. And as a practicing Mason, the opera’s florid Masonic themes and imagery reflect more of the composer’s personality and commitments.
Singing the lead roles of Pamina and Papageno are returning Opera NEO singers soprano Sara Womble and baritone Luke Harnish. Harnish made a strong debut with Opera NEO last season in the title role of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, and Womble sang the major role of Princess Ilia in the company’s production of Mozart’s Idomeneo in 2018. They will be joined by newcomer Andy Zimmermann as Prince Tamino.
Italian comic opera—opera buffa—did not catch on in 18th-century French aristocratic circles until Rameau came up with Platée in 1745, a clever entertainment he concocted for the festivities surrounding a royal wedding at the court of Versailles. The opera’s plot has Jupiter, the ultimate Deity, tricked into marrying Platée, an ugly water nymph. No one could have missed the parallels to the impending marriage of the French Dauphin to a Spanish princess who was less than glamorous. To press the point further, Rameau wrote the role of Platée to be sung by a high tenor in drag. His daring paid off—the court loved his opera, and he won the title of court composer from Louis XV.
Kozma is bringing back Benjamin Bayl to conduct the Platée production’s period instrumentalists, as he has done with such authority in the company’s 2019 La Calisto by Francesco Cavalli and the 2018 Partenope by G. F. Handel. La Calisto director David Radamés Toro returns to direct Platée, and title role will be performed by tenor George Milosh in his Opera NEO debut. Performances will be staged on Friday, August 14 and Sunday, August 16.
Opera NEO concludes the festival with Gounod’s evergreen Faust, which Kozma will both direct and conduct. Tenor Dane Suarez, who sang a commanding Lensky in last season’s Eugene Onegin, returns to sing the title role, and bass-baritone Johann Schram Reed makes his Opera NEO debut as the villain, Méphistophélès. Performances are slated for Thursday, August 13 and Saturday, August 15.
Two festival performances that precede the three opera productions include the Aria Marathon, introducing each young artist performing a signature aria, and the popular Cabaret evening, featuring opera, operetta, and Broadway scenes, served up in a festive atmosphere with dinner, desserts, and champagne at the Encinitas Library. The Aria Marathon takes place Sunday, July 12 at 4:00 pm, at Palisades Presbyterian Church, and the Cabaret will be held on two nights, July 24 and July 25.