March 21, 2014, BY Kathryn Kopchik

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The Bucknell Opera Company will present a full production of Mozart's The Magic Flute on Saturday, March 29, at 7:30 p.m. in the Weis Center for the Performing Arts at Bucknell.

The performance is free and open to the public; tickets are not required.

Along with this production in the Weis Center, the Opera Company will present a free family matinee of The Magic Flute on Saturday, April 5, at 10 a.m. in the Rooke Recital Hall of the Weis Music Building. Children of all ages and family are invited.

In The Magic Flute, Prince Tamino is ordered by the Queen of the Night to rescue her daughter, Princess Pamina, who has been kidnapped by the evil Sarastro. The Queen gives Tamino a magic flute to aid him and his sidekick, Papageno, who have several adventures before learning the truth about the Queen of the Night.

"This production, a favorite with opera audiences for centuries, combines the talents of the Opera Company and Bucknell's dance department as well as visual artists from the community," said Emily Martin-Moberley, director of the Opera Company.

"Elaine Crossman, a nationally recognized visual artist, has designed and constructed masks for use in The Magic Flute for the dancers in two of the arias.

"Bucknell senior Christina Oddo will be choreographing dancers from the dance department in these numbers and Christopher Para, faculty member and director of the Bucknell Symphony Orchestra, will be conducting the orchestra of local musicians. And we have a set designer and lighting designer from Denver, Colo., who will also be joining us in this production," she said.

Martin-Moberley joined the Bucknell faculty as a visiting professor in the spring of 2013, when she directed the Opera Company's first full production of Hansel and Gretel, which featured a family matinee for the community. She also taught voice and led a seminar in Music Entrepreneurship. As a visiting professor this year, she is again directing the Bucknell Opera Company's spring production and teaching voice.

Founded in 1988 under the direction of Catherine Fowler Payn, the Bucknell Opera Company has gained a reputation for creating high quality performances of operatic literature in an undergraduate, liberal arts environment. Members of the company sing roles that support their vocal and artistic development by exploring both traditional and contemporary genres. Bucknell Opera Company's performances, both on and off campus, have gained particular acclaim for innovative productions of significant contemporary American works.

Collaboration on campus and in the community
As part of its mission and position within a larger, liberal arts university, the Bucknell Opera Company collaborates with other artists and academics, both within and outside the University. In a concert performance of Zarzuela arias in April 2012, the company worked with members of the Bucknell Dance Department.

The Bucknell Opera Company is also dedicated to outreach within the community through the production of family matinees and performances at local schools, often enlisting the talent of young singers and students from schools across Pennsylvania. In the company's May 2013 production of Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel, the ensemble auditioned children from the Lewisburg area to participate in the production as the children's chorus.

Besides their yearly opera performances, the members of the ensemble have numerous performance opportunities, including concerts on and off campus in such places as New York and Philadelphia, on campus masterclasses with well-known composers and artists, such as Jake Heggie, Lee Hoiby and Heidi Grant Murphy, and collaborations with the composition, jazz, ethnomusicology and theatre areas.

The Bucknell Opera Company is a supportive group of young musicians committed to producing first-class opera productions while enhancing their own personal growth and understanding of the operatic art form through dedication, collaboration and an interdisciplinary experience. Through individualized attention and performance opportunities, singers are able to apply their unique backgrounds and fields of interest to enrich their understanding of operatic literature and achieve a healthy vocal technique, with the guidance of experienced directors and vocal faculty.

The Bucknell Opera Company hopes to mold students into well-rounded artists and encourages singers to explore all areas of academia along with their musical interests. These experiences only further enrich students' understanding of vocal literature and improve the quality of performances. The ensemble offers individualized attention and performance opportunities to foster the growth of each individual singer. Directors and voice faculty emphasize the necessities of healthy vocal technique, dramatic ability, and artistic expression. Bucknell Opera Company is, most importantly, a family and support system that encourages members to pursue a future as an advocate and performer of the arts.