• April 17, 2012 /  Reviews, Stuff

    The picture above is from “Prinz Tamino”, a beautiful book by Michael Sowa. The book has the sub-title “Märchen und Papiertheater nach Mozarts Zauberflöte” (“Fairy Tale and Paper Theater based on…”). The picture is actually of one of the pages (of heavy card stock) that comprise the paper theater. The figures may be punched out and you can put on your own Magic Flute paper production.
    And the fairy tale is fun too. It is indeed an abbreviated version of the Flute with the whole cast of characters. But best are the wonderful illustrations by Sowa. Here are a couple of images from the book.
    The first is Tamino meeting the Queen of the Night and the second is the entrance to the trial by fire. Really great. And there are many, many other wonderful images of characters and settings in the book.
    The text is in German. But even if you can’t read the story you will delight in the illustrations and, of course, the paper theater!
    Michael Sowa
    Märchen und Papiertheater nach
    Mozarts Zauberflöte
    mit einem Capriccio von Eckhard Henscheid
    published by Aufbau-Verlag GmbH, Berlin 2000
    ISBN 3-351-04002-4

  • April 17, 2012 /  Commentary, Stuff

    On a trip to München back in 2006, my wife and I were strolling around the city and as we approached the Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz we noticed some people picketing. Curious, we walked closer and saw it was the stage workers that were on strike. And as a result the evenings performance (I think it was supposed to have been “Fiddler on the Roof”) was cancelled.
    Then we saw this banner. (It’s over one-and-a-half meters tall.)
    Wow! A concertante performance of Die Zauberflöte. Well, since they had no stage workers, a performance without scenery and costumes was all they could muster. But a chance to see (or rather hear) a live Magic Flute should not be passed up. So, we went inside to see if they still had any tickets. The lady at the counter almost laughed and said they had plenty!
    A quick call to our friends who we were scheduled to dine with that evening to ask if they wanted to join us. No takers so we told them we would meet them after the performance. (I think they thought we were a bit crazy.) We paid the (very reduced) price for two tickets and killed the hour or so until it started.
    Well, it was brilliant! Turns out it was a chance for the principles to go through the music before the premiere in a couple of weeks and since there were only about thirty people in the audience the performance was very relaxed and everyone seemed to be having a great time. In fact it was some of the best singing we’ve heard live. And the orchestra was so lively and fluid. All the performers were there for the love of their craft and they really connected with the few of us in the hall.
    Ah, those once in a lifetime opportunities.
    Oh, so what about that big banner? Well, I thought I would ask if they would let me have one of the smaller posters as a souvenir of this one-off evening. The gentleman said he couldn’t open the cases but I could have the banner! I unroll it now and then and we remember the Zauberflöte without scenery or costumes that enchanted us in München!