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Behind the Scenes (and Costumes!) of Seattle Opera's "The Magic Flute"

Meet Zandra Rhodes, known to the international fashion scene as a high-end designer for the rich and famous. Rhodes has designed for clients as diverse as Princess Diana, Jackie Onassis, Helen Mirren and even Freddy Mercury of the rock group Queen.

Her unique use of bold prints and fiercely feminine patterns combined with a theatrical use of color give each Rhodes creation a timeless quality. Her fabulous designs will be featured in Seattle Opera’s production of Mozart’s fantasy adventure: “The Magic Flute.”

“The world of costume design is like being able to be a fairy with a magic wand,” notes Rhodes. “If you design a gorgeous crinoline, you don’t have to worry about how it’s going to look on a hanger. You just have to make sure that when it’s on the stage it can look absolutely wonderful and also be well-fitted and sturdy enough that the singers can focus on the important task of transporting you with their remarkable, unamplified voices.”

The award-winning costumes, first seen in Seattle in 2011, are being fully refurbished for this revival. Rhodes has nothing but praise for the Seattle Opera artisans sprinkling their own fairy dust on her creations. “These people around me are magicians who make it all look so wonderful.” The production also features Egyptian-inspired sets designed by Robert Dahlstrom and Robert Schaub that shift constantly throughout the evening as the story plays out over dozens of locales. Evocative lighting designs by Duane Schuler add to the enchantment.

In addition to its fantastic story and eye-popping design elements, “The Magic Flute” sparkles with Mozart’s musical genius. The utterly unique masterpiece features a treasure trove of melody, and a wide variety of composition styles. Standout musical moments include the familiar overture that playfully sets the stage for adventure, the Queen of the Night’s two show-stopping arias and tender love duets, clever patter songs and stately choruses.

“If you’ve never seen opera before, ‘The Magic Flute’ is a great first opera,” notes Rhodes. “ I think it’s an ideal opera for children of all ages to see everything that goes in to making an opera. A magic bird man that comes on and has got a feathered tail and he plays a flute and magical animals appear and come to life. That’s just the first few minutes! It’s really a magical opera, great for children but also wonderful for grownups.”

The Magic Flute opens May 6 at McCaw Hall and runs thru May 21, and there are specially priced Sunday Family Matinees on May 14 and 21. Click here to learn more and get ticket information.

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