NAU School of Music team wins National Opera Association award for ‘The Magic Flute’

The Magic Flute

A team of musicians and artists at Northern Arizona University won first place in the National Opera Association Opera Production Competition with their spring 2018 performance of “Die Zauberflöte.”

The team, led by Lyric Opera director and associate professor of practice Eric Gibson, won Division III in the competition, with performances from Texas A&M Commerce and The University of Montana rounding out the top three finishers. Gibson stage-directed and designed the show, including the set, costumes and props; Michele Collins did the lighting design; and Daniel O’Bryant, the director of orchestras in the School of Music, conducted the NAU Symphony during the performance. Students performed the show.

This is the first time an NAU student ensemble has won a national award.

“Die Zauberflöte,” German for “The Magic Flute,” is about a young prince, Tamino, who falls in love with Pamina, the Queen of the Night’s daughter. To prove his worthiness, he undergoes trials of fire and water and returns the land from darkness to sunlight.

“What I am most proud of is that Mozart’s music is so difficult to sing at all, let alone in German,” Gibson said. “It’s a particular style, Singspiel (basically comic opera) and the students needed to master not only difficult singing but comedic timing. They did both. What I’m proud of personally is that it was noted in our critique that our opera looked very lush, and the design was beautiful. That’s all us. We don’t have staff to do that, so it was an effort by all the students and me. That feels good.”

NAU-TV videographer Chris Strobel also did a video of the show, which was part of the application.