Salzburg Marionettes to bring ‘Magic Flute’ to WFU stage

Wooden puppetsTwo-foot-tall carved wooden puppets will star in Mozart’s classic opera, “The Magic Flute,” when the Salzburg Marionette Theatre performs at Wake Forest University on Nov. 19, 20 and 21 as part of the Secrest Artists Series.

Performances will begin at 8 p.m. in the MainStage Theater of Scales Fine Arts Center. Although the Salzburg Marionettes have toured internationally for some years, this is the group’s first appearance in North Carolina.

Austria’s celebrated marionette theatre troupe, founded in 1913, is known for creating remarkably lifelike movements in the elaborately costumed puppets, which are manipulated by strings from above the stage.

“The Magic Flute,” with its fairy-tale plot, has been a signature piece for the Salzburg Marionettes since its first production in 1952.

“They manage the leap to the realm of pure idea, where thought and expression are one,” said the New York Times. “They effect the transitions from farce to pathos, from whimsy to terror, from grief to joy with a smoothness live performers seek in vain.”

The Salzburg Marionettes perform to recordings of 18th and 19th century operas made by the world’s leading orchestras and singers.

The company’s current director, Gretl Aicher, 72, is the granddaughter of Anton Aicher, its founder. The Marionette Theatre employs about 12 full-time puppeteers, all of whom have spent years developing their technique. In Salzburg, the puppets and costumes are made in the Theatre’s own studios. The Theatre has its own costume department, a carpentry department and a puppet studio where the puppets are made. A sculptor designs the heads.

In 1994 and 1995, the productions of five Mozart operas were recorded for television and video with Sir Peter Ustinov as the narrator.

Available tickets will go on sale Nov. 6. They are $20 for adults, $15 for non-Wake Forest students and senior citizens. Contact the University Theatre box office at 336-758-5295. The box office is open from noon to 5 p.m. on weekdays. For information, call the Secrest Series Office at 336-758-5757.

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