Mozart At The Tripoli Shrine: Milwaukee Opera Theatre's 'Zie Magic Flute'

Jan 15, 2019

Editor's note: This piece was originally published on Jan. 18, 2017.

Milwaukee Opera Theatre is known for doing a lot with very little money. They showcase talented artists in a way that belies their limited resources. From new works to inventive re-imaginings of opera and operetta classics, an Milwaukee Opera Theatre show is guaranteed to be a deeply pleasurable artistic experience.

The company’s re-imagined The Magic Flute — by Mozart — promises to be no exception to that rule. Sung and spoken in both German and English, with staging and performance help from Quasimondo Physical Theatre and the Cadance Collective, this Magic Flute will take place in the round under the dome of the historic Tripoli Shrine. Milwaukee Opera Theater’s Jill Anna Ponasik and Quasimondo’s Brian Rott direct, and company manager Danny Brylow translated the libretto. 

The inside of the Tripoli Shrine dome.
Credit Jill Anna Ponasik

Mozart himself was a freemason, as are the Shriners centered in the Tripoli Shrine. "The opera embodies so many of the fraternal tenets of the freemason movement and the period of the enlightenment," explains Ponasik. "It was written in 1791, and the themes of brotherhood, peace, justice, virtue and the triumph of good over evil are central to the storytelling."

In their interpretation of this classic piece, the directors use artistic flair to innovate.

"We wanted to highlight the magical quality of this production and the flute in general," says Rott. "Through the use of object manipulation — and a giant snake — and a few other puppetry sequences, we're really helping to make something that is continually exciting and surprising."

A performer with the magic flute.
Credit Jill Anna Ponasik

Zie Magic Flute opens at the Tripoli Shrine Friday evening and runs for two weekends.