Strong principals help make TCO’s ‘Flute’ a winner

Reviewed by Tony Villecco

How can you lose with Mozart? You can’t. I attended the final dress rehearsal Wednesday evening for Tri-Cities Opera’s production of Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) and was not disappointed. All of the principals were strong with a few standouts. No surprise here that the orchestra also was excellent under the firm hand of Maestro John Mario Di Costanzo. The overture, a signature piece, was worth the price of admission.

That said, there were a few bumps along the way, diffusing the viewer’s focus. One hopes the problems will be ironed out before Friday’s opening performance. The dancers, some excellent, proved more of a distraction than a bonus. Papagena (and the old lady), sung admirably by Kathleen Jasinskas, seemed to be on stage too early, which often took attention from the other singers. Handsome and simplistic costumes were appropriate but really? Checkered pants on Papageno? I found myself obsessed with the costume, and the Queen of the Night’s get-up looked like a bad night by Halston. Still, these are minor barbs in an otherwise strong and dedicated performance.

Kirk Dougherty as Tamino has grown even more impressive: his rich tenor strong and secure, his aria and ensembles spot-on. The tone is supple and warm with evenness between registers. Baritone Charles Hyland was excellent as Papageno. A very capable actor, his lithe movements and incredibly emotive facial expressions were delightful. A fine singer to boot, he captures the role’s dilemma, humor and sadness.

Christina Kompar successfully spelled the Queen’s arias, even managing the high F, but she was not menacing enough in depicting a woman bent on revenge. Soprano Victoria Cannizzo sang the heroine, Pamina, with finesse and a total command of the Mozart style. Her vocal ease and line were very fine, and she delivered an excellent “Ach, Ich fühls” in the second act.

As usual, William Roberts (as the temple leader, Sarastro) was a stand-out. His bass voice and range were very exciting, creating an almost orgasmic wave of low notes that were both rich in color and brilliant in tonal quality. Roberts is one to watch as his career continues to spiral upwards. Richard G. Leonberger managed to capture the deviltry of Monostatos but did not fare as well vocally as some of the other principals.

It was, however, the three spirits who captured my attention. Kerianna Krebushevski, Caitlin Gotimer and Molly Adams-Toomey sang with strength and often haunting beauty, creating some of the performance’s finest musical moments with an often haunting beauty. Their almost ethereal sound filling the theater.
The three ladies sang Mozart’s gorgeous harmonies well in costumes that were reminiscent of Wagner’s Brunhilde. Meghan Cakalli (she sings the Queen opening night), Ü Lee and Cabiria Jacobsen blended well, even if a shade less effective than the three spirits.

Stage director Chuck Hudson wisely kept the action flowing, which helped to delineate the scenes while isolating the action. The simple but effective sets were by John Bielenberg, who designed a series of steps and platforms depicting the temple. Lovely, warm and often dramatic lighting was by Brandon Stirling Baker with costumes by Stephen Dell’Aversano and Julia Kelly.

The all-volunteer chorus had several moments to shine — a rarity for a Mozart opera — and John Isenberg deserves commendation for their efforts. The opera’s original German language was coached by Judy Berry with English surtitles executed by Jean Miller Goodheart. Choreography was by the gifted Margaret Miller.

Performances of The Magic Flute will be at 8 p.m Friday (April 27) and 3 p.m. Sunday (April 29) at The Forum, 236 Washington St., Binghamton. For tickets, call 772-0400. For more information, visit

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