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Released January 15, 2004


HATTIESBURG -- Southern Opera and Music Theater at The University of Southern Mississippi will present an adaptation of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's "The Magic Flute" Jan. 30 and Feb. 1 at the Mannoni Performing Arts Center auditorium in Hattiesburg and Feb. 6 at the Advanced Education Center on the Gulf Coast campus in Long Beach.

The first of two operas to be presented at Southern Miss during the spring semester, the production is under the direction of stage director Dr. Maryann Kyle and musical director Pablo Saelzer.

Being an adaptation, the production will use narration rather than the normal spoken dialogue of most operas.

"Using narration rather than dialogue is a trend in opera that started with Piccola Opera in New York," Kyle said. "The company presents many children's adaptations of famous operas and uses narration to bring the story to life."

A lyric drama with a mystic twist, "The Magic Flute" embodies the concept of good versus evil in a rather complicated story. The musical numbers have been called romantic, dramatic, and just short of blessed. There is even an embrace of the melodic elements of folk.

"Our production of 'Flute' was originally conceived as a children's show," Kyle explained. "We have an hour version for children's shows, and the evening shows are about two hours in length with narration."

The ensemble will tour the children's version at Starkville and Columbus, thanks to the Columbus Arts Council. Kyle said she expects the show to perform for more than 5,000 children in two days before returning to Hattiesburg for performances on campus.

"Taking the show on the road is an important outreach component for our opera program," Kyle said. "Children are very open to opera-more than I ever expected. We first send out advanced educational packets about the production to the schools or area we plan to visit. Then, once they actually see the production, they are enthralled by the sights, sounds, and storyline."

The Southern Miss production has been suited to travel. Its sets are lightweight and portable. Instead of building large structures that are difficult to move, Kyle and the set designers use "a lot of fabrics and lighting to create the big effect."

"For me, as a voice professor in the School of Music, the most exciting aspect of this production is our large ensemble of singers," Kyle stated. "Because we have so many talented singers here at Southern Miss, we were able to double the cast for this production, giving us a cast of over 40 singers. Some will be in the chorus, some as lead characters."

Lead cast members include Richard Sawyer of Ocean Springs and Byron Johnson of Jamaica as Tamino; Nikki Melvin of Petal and Alice Wright of Mobile, Ala., as Pamina; Matthew Green of Fort Worth, Texas, and Allin Kimbrough of Meadville as Sarastro; and Emily Hindrichs of New Orleans and Anna Stevens of Columbia as the (evil) Queen of the Night.

Southern Opera and Music Theater plans to continue offering yearly children's shows in addition to their normal performances on campus. Their next production, "Into the Woods," will be performed for Hattiesburg area school children in April 2004 and will run on campus April 16-18. Also, this particular production will be a collaborative effort with William Carey College in Hattiesburg.

The Jan. 30 show begins at 7:30 p.m., the Feb. 1 matinee at 2:30 p.m., and the Feb. 6 production on the Gulf Coast campus at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adult general admission and $5 for students and children under 12. For tickets, call the Southern Miss Ticket Office at (601) 266-5418 or 800-844-8425, or order online at For more information, call Kyle at (601) 266-6059.


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM