John Danley, baritone, as Papageno, and other OTM singers interact with kids when Opera Theater of Montclair visited Renaissance Middle School earlier this year. Courtesy Opera Theatre of Montclair.

‘The Magic Flute’
by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
abridged version

Thursday, July 27, 7 p.m.

Van Vleck House & Gardens,
21 Van Vleck St.
Rain or shine

operamontclair.org

By GWEN OREL
orel@montclairlocal.news

Body mics are anathema to opera singers, and Opera Theatre of Montclair has never used them.

But that will change when OTM performs “The Magic Flute” outdoors at Van Vleck House & Gardens on July 27, because no one should miss hearing even a note of Mozart’s music.

“It’s the first time we’ve been at Van Vleck,” said OTM’s ebullient founder, Mia Riker-Norrie. “We got a grant from the Montclair Foundation to purchase and rent sound equipment.”

The foundation, Riker-Norrie explained, is connected to Van Vleck.

It supports nonprofit organizations in Montclair that benefit the community, and its board manages both the grants program and the Van Vleck House & Gardens property.

OTM, a nonprofit professional company, has been touring an abridged family version of Mozart’s 1791 opera for a while. Riker-Norrie founded the company in 2012; its first full production was in 2015.

For the production at Van Vleck, she intends to incorporate the audience into the show, asking children to play dragons, forest animals and spirits.

“We’re always interactive, but it will be more fun, because we’re outdoors,” she said. In case of rain, the production will move indoors, and the audience will follow the company around the mansion.

The next big production for OTM will be Rossini’s “Cinderella,” in September. OTM held a preview of the show at the Montclair Public Library last month, and will hold additional previews, including one at Montclair Center Stage on Aug. 26.

The “Cinderella” preview is “just giving people a taste of what we’re going to do,” Riker-Norrie said. “It’s an hour of highlights.

“I wear a hat with rubber chickens.”

“Cinderella” will be the first opera in which Riker-Norrie has cast herself. “I play one of the evil stepsisters. It’s typecasting,” she said with a laugh.

The cast for July 27 includes Brian Alvarado as Papageno, Jennifer Whennen as Pamina, Ravon Middlebrooks as Tamino, Heather Bobeck as Queen of the Night, Stacey Canterbury of Belleville as The First Lady, Ema Mitrovic of East Orange as Third Lady, Aine Hakamatsuka as Papagena, Jim Pierce of Union as Sarastro, with Mia Riker-Norrie narrating.

They will be accompanied by students from the Cali School: Tristan Aniceto, Justin Welch, Ivan Mendoza, Zack Merkovsky and Amanda Morden.

Riker-Norrie calls “The Magic Flute” perfect for families. “It’s fantasy. There’s Papageno, the bird man, and Papagena, the bird woman. There’s the villainess, the Queen of the Night.”

Her favorite thing, she said, is to “see families coming and enjoying this together. Even the young kids — they watch and are in awe. They are not used to seeing singers of such power right up close.”

And doing this at Van Vleck will be particularly magical: “One of the things we’re planning on doing, when the Queen of the Night sings her arias, we will have her do it from the roof of the building, because we can.” There are also great pillars to hide behind, she said.

And, Riker-Norrie added, “It’s Mozart, so it’s got a few catchy tunes.”