Student opera ensemble performs “The Magic Flute”

“The Magic Flute” follows Prince Tamino and Papageno looking for the Queen of the Night. Photos by Lauren Gdowski. 


When it comes to performances on Butler’s campus, there are many options to explore — ballet, theatre and visiting performances are usually the top options to see. However, this past weekend, some Butler students put on a different sort of performance: an opera. 

Students in Butler Opera Theatre ensemble course worked on a production of Mozart’s famous “The Magic Flute.” The show follows the journeys and adventures of the characters Tamino and Papageno, amongst other characters. 

Sam Jones, a sophomore vocal performance and German double major who played the role of Tamino, explained that the plot of the show is one of exploration and heroism. 

“‘The Magic Flute’ follows the hero’s journey,” Jones said. “I [played] the role of Prince Tamino who, early on in the show, finds a portrait of a woman and decides [she] is the love of his life. He goes on this big journey trying to find her, and he runs into a friend named Papageno; they are on a journey trying to find what they love and desire.” 

Butler’s rendition had a couple of twists that are unique to this performance. The group added a video game background to the story, with set pieces and costumes to match. The opera was also sung in English, compared to the original German. 

Ves Johnson, a senior music education major who played the roles of Spirit Number Two and the Queen of the Night, said that the production utilized props, costumes and technology to add to a video game atmosphere. 

“We put a little bit of a video game theme twist on to make it more silly and fun,” Johnson said. “You [might’ve seen] three little boys that look like Ash Ketchum [for the roles of the spirits] or an actual screen with GIFs and video games.” 

The video game setting was not the only special twist — the cast featured two performers as the character the Queen of the Night. Both Maddie Brandenburg, a junior vocal performance major, and Johnson starred in the show’s leading roles. 

Brandenburg, who — just like Johnson — played both the roles of Spirit Number Two and the Queen of the Night, explained how this double-cast came to be.

“[The role] was double-cast about two weeks into the semester,” Brandenburg said. “Originally, [Johnson] was my understudy, and then Worthington [the production’s director] said that we were both so good and that he wanted both of us to play the Queen of the Night. So one of us would play one night and one the other. It [was] really cool.” 

The show, which students worked on since the beginning of the semester, came together as planned, but not without hard work — especially during dress rehearsal week. 

“So it’s really hard to do blocking and everything you need to do when [the rehearsal location] feels so removed from what it’s supposed to be,” Johnson said. “Every time I [got] to the theater [during dress rehearsal week], I [had] no issue. I [didn’t] feel like I’m held back by some invisible barrier. It’s really, really fun.” 

With all the hard work that the cast, directors and crew put into the show, it is no secret how proud everyone involved in the production was of their work. 

“Everyone always gets a little nervous for show week, making sure everything is put together,” Jones said. “But [during dress rehearsal] week, the show really skyrocketed way past where I thought it was going to be. [Tuesday’s and Thursday’s] dress rehearsals were just phenomenal. I [was] excited to get back to an audience.” 

Students performed “The Magic Flute” two different days this past weekend, March 24 and 25. For more information on future student shows and performances, visit


Related posts