Salzburg Marionettes bring Mozart’s The Magic Flute to life.
Thursday, November 2, 2006
Ninety three years is a long time to dance. But these aren’t your average dancers—far from it. The 14 marionettes that arrive here this week all the way from their hometown in Salzburg, Austria, are international stars, wooden world travelers. The performers have made regular tours and given guest performances in France, Japan, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and South Africa.
As their careers started nearly a century ago, there has been ample time for them to develop into something that their inventor, Anton Aicher, didn’t anticipate. Family entertainment turned into a success at home, and performing fairytales turned into a repertoire of sophisticated operatic masterpieces. Now they are lugging around their own stage and theater from country to country, making the rounds to the Sunset Center in Carmel this Thursday.
Though they are suspended from above, these marionettes project the illusion that they are doing all the work. In fact, it took years of training for their puppeteers to learn the craft that gives them life. It is similar to learning to play a musical instrument.
Cynthia Vandenberg of the Sunset Center says these marionettes are controlled by strings to the head, one to each arm and leg, and one on the back. “Though some marionettes can have up to 30 strings attached, the fewer the strings, the better range of movement,” Vandenberg says.
It isn’t strange to feel shocked by their fluid movements and impressive physical accomplishments.
“It’s the way the puppeteer moves them that makes it lifelike,” Vandenberg says. “Their mouths don’t move, but the secret of the movement is the head.”
Long before the marionettes, Salzburg was home to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. These intricate creations will perform this week to one of Mozart’s most famous operas, The Magic Flute, which was created in 1791, toward the end of his life. The opera supplies an ample story line and music to allow the cast to show off its unique wooden athleticism.
Moving through the caves and castles of this complex story, the marionettes here perform in the roles of sorcerers and wild animals, a priest, a queen and her daughter, a handsome hero and his bird-selling cohort, a dragon, warbling ladies, boy-angels, a bully and, of course, the magic flute. Audiences can expect elaborate costumes.
Don’t make the mistake of dismissing this as an occasion for the kids to come see a cast of dancing sock puppets frolicking. This is one for the ages—and for all ages.
THE SALZBURG MARIONETTES perform 8pm Thursday, Nov. 2. Sunset Center, San Carlos near Ninth, Carmel. Adults $27; Students $10. 624-2048.