'Magic Flute' auditions begin tonight

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— Will the next Pavarotti please stand up.

The Emerald City Opera is holding auditions for "The Magic Flute" in Steamboat Springs tonight.

The nonprofit organization will present the full-scale opera Aug. 15-17 in conjunction with the Steamboat Springs Art Council's Beaux Arts Festival. Organizers aim to take advantage of local talent.

The first step in putting familiar faces on the stage is finding them.

That's why anyone with a flair for singing is encouraged to come at 8 p.m. to the Methodist Church with a prepared vocal piece. An accompanist will be provided and singing from memory is preferred but not required.

Emerald City Opera Director Keri Rusthoi and Moffat County High School choral director Ray Zentz are looking for 10 men and 10 women to sing in the chorus.

Two people who auditioned in Craig Thursday night were invited to participate in the production, and Rusthoi and Zentz are anxious to draw on more local talent in Steamboat.

Fifteen people have already contacted Rusthoi about attending the Monday audition.

She's thrilled with the interest and hopes more people try out.

A full-scale opera production in a community the size of Steamboat Springs presents a unique opportunity for vocalists, she said.

And it's not all serious, either.

"We want to have some fun with it," Rusthoi said.

Chorus members get to dress the part, with costumes for the entire cast to be provided by the Sante Fe Opera.

While the Emerald City Opera is bringing in artists who perform at the national and international level for many of the leading roles, a few local residents get to momentarily stand in the spotlight. A handful of baritones, tenors and sopranos from the chorus will sing small solo parts.

Opera organizers don't plan to waste any time once choral members are selected.

The chorus begins once-a-week rehearsals in May and will practice its repertoire through the end of June. The singers get the month of July off and return in August with intense, daily rehearsals with the full cast and orchestra until "The Magic Flute" debuts in mid-August.

"The Magic Flute," or "Die Zauberflte," was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's final operatic piece. It premiered Sept. 30, 1791, at the Theater auf der Wieden in Vienna, Austria.

The librettist, or writer, took his plot from several literary sources, including a collection of fairy tales, and the thinking of the time. "The Magic Flute" compares the journey of two couples. Egyptian Prince Tamino pursues lofty ideals in his quest for the truth and Princess Pamina, the daughter of the Queen of the Night.

The bird-catcher Papageno, who loves Papagena, chases after more tangible rewards -- a wife, family and good wine.

Those who audition don't have to be scholars of "The Magic Flute," Rusthoi said.

The education can wait until next week when practice begins.

Those who sing in the chorus aren't the only ones who get to learn about "The Magic Flute" before the opera opens Aug. 15.

Colorado Mountain College is hosting a six-week class beginning Friday that will introduce people to the operatic art form using "The Magic Flute" as a case study.

The class runs from 6 to 8 p.m. and costs $34.

Those who would rather stand on stage when the production opens this summer instead of on the sidelines are encouraged to call Rusthoi at 879-1996 and show up at the Methodist Church tonight with a piece to perform.

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