Opera review: Mozart Mows Through Motown

Anyone who’s ever seen the movie about Mozart from the 80’s called Amadeus knows that little Wolfgang was a wild thing as a little boy. He grew up in Salzburg, Austria with musical parents, and was encouraged early on to follow in their footsteps.

While still a boy, he had footsteps that made Big Foot green with envy! Wolfgang eventually took Vienna by storm, and was the Cat’s Meow across Europe by the time he began his final musical score for The Magic Flute. It was a commissioned work. I wrote a commissioned song once for a morning show personality in Lansing named Bridget during a battle to keep Logan as a street name for the longest street in the city. Logan was a civil war general for Michigan during the Civil War. Some of the Baptist leaders of the city, me excepted, wanted the street renamed MLK, Jr. Boulevard. The Lansing City Council should’ve renamed Larch or Cedar, you know? Trees, not people. There’s something Stalinesque in switching out names of people, as if General Logan was so much banana oil or a spot of pizza sauce on someone’s tennis shoe.

I went to two consecutive city council meetings to play a song I wrote when I first moved to Lansing to go to law school. It is called “Logan.” It rocks. A Lansing radio station played it the morning after one of the meetings. The street was co-named Logan/MLK for a while; but, I think, they eventually dropped Logan off, entirely. Just south of Lansing, in Holt, I think it is still called Logan, lol. The morning show host was some dude; and he asked me to write a song for Bridget, who was also on the morning show. I did. It was a kind of funny mock love song. “Oh, Bridget, I love you, but I’m a midget.” Something like that, lol. The station gave me two free movie tickets.

Mozart probably got more than two free movie tickets for doing the score for The Magic Flute.

When he died at 35, The Magic Flute was taking Europe by storm. To this day, it stands alone as the greatest opera in the history of Westerndom – so great, in fact, that it makes it obvious to the most ignorant dullard in the world that Westerndom is worth saving from ISIS. Well, the European Union excepted!

The pulp of the play centers on the romantic dalliances of two men, Tamino, played flawlessly by Joshua Dennis, and Papageno, played with clownish brilliance by Gordon Bintner, and one woman named Pamina, played exquisitely by Sylvia Schwartz. It’s a real roller-coaster of joy followed by heartache and heartbreak, followed by joy, then repeat, ad infinitum. It was a bit hard to keep up with all the drama, kind of emotionally draining; but Mozart’s score kept things moving along wonderfully. That dude is dope lol.

Add to that a dancing bear, a T-Rex, a cute two-man rhinoceros, and a lion statue that spews red wine out of its mouth, oh, and a dragon, and you have a recipe for a fun-filled night on the town with my sister.

It started out with a BBQ Chicken pizza that was to die for from Paparoni’s Pizza in Warren, then a quick drive through the Heidelberg Project. My sis hadn’t ever seen it; but she really liked it. I am glad I have a cool sister. She’s a few months older than Prince. I took two pics at the Project. I will include them after the review. Tyree Guyton wasn’t there. He is the artist who created the Project. He is cool. He even said he loved my banana gun. I will include it, too. It is piece of wood that reminded me of a gun and a banana when I found it one day when I was visiting my dying girlfriend at the hospital. I wanted to show it to her before she died; but she was too far gone. She was on a ventilator and stuff. She was a Bokonist. Yeah, from Cat’s Cradle. Yeah, I met Vonnegut in Toledo, too, lol. sheila franklin gave the world three beautiful daughters and four wonderful documentaries. One of them is about me and my art. the king of pluto. It won an award at the 2004 Berkeley Film & Video Festival. I need to put it on You Tube like yesterday.

When we got to the Detroit Opera House, I got a can of Pepsi and found a bust of Giuseppe Verdi. I didn’t find one of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; but, that doesn’t mean they don’t have one. I guess there are some on the mezzanine level.

I should say something about the magic flute, itself. Tamino was presented with the said flute and told of its special properties, like being able to get people to do your bidding or whatever and so on and so forth and whatnot and stuff. Tamino was the mainest character and used it sort of to seduce Pamina.

But it didn’t really seem like he needed it on her very often. But there was one scene where Papageno, who wore a chartreuse bird-catching outfit, saved Pamina from some deep green-skinned primitive men who tied her up and whose leader looked like a witch doctor and spoke of raping her. Papageno came in the nick of time to save her from that calamity.

It seemed like they hit it off; but, eventually Pamina and Tamino hook up and Papageno ends up S. O. L., lol – at least for a while…..

The primitive green men were portrayed as afraid of the bird-catching, presumably Austrian, Pagageno. It was kind of antiquated, but also amusing, seeing such a politically incorrect portrayal of a primitive people. The audience loved it. It was refreshing to see an old classic that hadn’t been gutted. Only Mozart could get away with that in 2016. Sorry, Trump, LOL!!!!

Later in the opera, the green men seem to play matchmakers for Pagageno and Papagena, a cute petite woman who initially masqueraded as a stone figure who suddenly was animated, much to Papageno’s shock and awe. Once she revealed her true identity, love cast off its burdensome shell and reveled in mirth and wonderment.

The powers of the magic flute were more spoken of than demonstrated. That is my one complaint. But this opera was written before CGI; so, I’m not going to make too much of a fuss. I was entertained and I saw my sister smile when I looked over at her from my aisle seat in Row U.

As far as the great mysteries about Mozart’s final contribution to Western and World Art, I remain mystified; but, I feel I might be going somewhat in the right direction now for a clue. If you have something you know about the magic flute, please tell me in the comment section that follows my banana gun, lol.

“The Magic Flute” runs from May 14 – 22, 2016 at the Detroit Opera House. For tickets and more information, visit www.michiganopera.org/opera/the-magic-flute/ or call (313) 961-3500.


Papageno plays a bird call while trying to catch some birds in Austria. (Photo by John Grigaitis/Michigan Opera Theatre)


Tamino holds the magic flute as a cute rhinoceros looks on. (Photo by John Grigaitis/Michgan Opera Theatre)


Pamina, Pagageno, and a green-faced witch doctor dude really steal the show, but for the Queen of the Night, whose singing was out of this world. (Photo by John Grigaitis/Michigan Opera Theatre)


So Young Park of Busan, South Korea, or Pusan, if you like the old name, sang like an angel as the Queen of the Night. Busan will host the 2021 General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union. Pluto could be replanetized in Busan that August. LOL. (Photo by John Grigaitis/Michigan Opera Theatre)


Tyree Guyton’s human figures dazzle the aesthetic sensibilities of everyone sensible enough to welcome great art into their lives, making The Heidelberg Project world famous. (Photo by Mike Wrathell/AmericaJR)


Christmas Clock.” That’s my title for the record lol. Tyree explained his theory of the clocks the last time I saw him at The Project. This is our little chunk of time in Eternity. Tyree is cool, homies and homiettes! (Photo by Mike Wrathell/AmericaJR)


Giuseppe Verdi wrote the operas Rigoletto, Macbeth, and a lot of others. He was dope lol. (Photo by Mike Wrathell/AmericaJR)


My “Banana Gun” mocks the enjoyment of gun violence. We are about Love, man. Don’t be making the world a nasty place with your damn gun fetish, dude, and you, too, dudette! I agree with guns as self-protection and the protection of others, but not for use in crimes. That ain’t cool. (Photo by Mike Wrathell/AmericaJR)

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