How does a chamber group dedicated to modern music fit into a Mozart Festival? The answer is a little like “Singin’ in the Rain.” In that movie, the talkie that Gene Kelly has just made is a flop, and to salvage it the studio decides to turn a black-and-white period piece into the dream sequence of a technicolor musical.
“The Land of the Magic Flute” works a little like that, explains Ertan Torgul, violinist for SOLI Chamber Ensemble. It takes Mozart’s opera and places it within a 21st century framework. Imagine Torgul, pitching the story to you like Gene Kelly: “It starts with this writer who’s having terrible nightmares. Writer’s block, he can’t sleep! He’s in a really bad place, he’s chasing this new conquest, leaves his girlfriend at a party, and speeding down the road, he crashes his car into this lake. All of a sudden he wakes up and he’s in the land of the Magic Flute. So the ‘Magic Flute’ story starts forming from there.”
Okay, I’ll bite. But again, how does that work?
Well, to create the experience, artist Fons Schiedon and sound designer/composer Phillipe Lambert created an entirely new world based on “The Magic Flute,” with drawings, sounds, animation and more. You can see highlights of it online (and in the video window at the bottom of this page), but the full experience includes live music from SOLI Chamber Ensemble, and a collaboration with Opera San Antonio that brings six talented singers to the stage of Ruth Taylor Concert Hall on the Trinity University campus this Tuesday night at 7:30 for a one-time only performance. And both Schiedon and Lambert will be there to “live mix” the show.
Again, how does that work?
“[Schiedon] hand-drew this stuff. And so he has a bank of images for each character,” Torgul says. “He’s rendering those images back into his computer, [and] he’s going to have this plethora of images he can pick from to create the action in a different way than it is online. So the two of them come together and as he puts up the images [on screen], then the composer will add his incidental music or sound effects.”
With the live singing and music, the “remix” of “The Land of the Magic Flute” will be completely different than what you can find online, Torgul says. And that’s how SOLI does the Mozart Festival. Wholly modern, and very SOLI!