Nathan Gunn as Papageno in Mozart’s The Magic Flute
Photo credit: Jonathan Tichler /Met opera

We travelled to New York City this week to witness a debut for Emily D’Angelo, a rising young Canadian mezzo-soprano, at the Metorpolitan Opera Company’s main stage in Lincoln Centre. Her role as 2nd Lady in Mozart’s The Magic Flute was the first of three roles for her this season as she begins her new tenure at the Met


Emily D’Angelo first came to prominence in 2016 when, as a 21 year-old fresh from her undergraduate program at University of Toronto, she won the Metropolitan Opera National Council Audition Finals. Subsequently, her date book has been filled with operatic engagements, recitals, and performances with major orchestras. She has won major prizes at several international competitions. Having heard her perform at Koerner Hall’s ‘Generation Next’ concert in 2016 in a performance of Rossini’s Giovanna d’Arco, with the Toronto Symphony in Vaughan Williams’s Serenade to Music andin the COC production of Die Zauberflote I was most excited to witness her Met debut. I can remember commenting that “there was a dark beauty in her lower range that blossomed into a dazzling upper register”. Emily is a graduate of the Canadian Opera Company’s Ensemble Studio and is currently a member of the Met’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program.

Emily’s debut may have been overshadowed this week by another Canadian, the history-making debut of the conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin as the Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer Music Director. His inaugural performance in the new role surpassed even the heightened anticipation of a new era for the Met. The stunning new production of Verdi’s La Traviata was simulcast in theatres around the world and will no doubt be re-broadcast for years to come.

Emily D’Angelo may not yet have garnered the name recognition of Nézet-Séguin yet, but her debut in Mozart’s The Magic Flute will no doubt mark the beginning of a long relationship with the company. At age 24, her days of singing opera’s great mezzo-soprano roles are in front of her. In the role of 2nd Lady, she was able to ease into singing on the world’s biggest operatic stage. There were no extended arias, but instead intricate ensemble singing with the other two Ladies (Gabriella Reyes and Maria Zifchak).

Emily D’Angelo at the Met: A debut for a rising star!

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Nathan Gunn as Papageno in Mozart’s The Magic Flute
Photo credit: Richard Termine / Met Opera

Nathan Gunn as Papageno and Ben Bliss as Tamino in Mozart’s The Magic Flute Photo: Richard Termine / Met Opera

Mezzo-soprano Emily D'Angelo; Photo credit: www.emilydangelo.com

Kathryn Lewek as the Queen of the Night and Erin Morley as Pamina
​in Mozart’s The Magic Flute
Photo credit: Richard Termine / Met Opera

A scene from Mozart’s The Magic Flute
​Photo: Richard Termine / Met Opera

​​Review by  David Richards
Toronto ON  December 21st 2018

When the run of The Magic Flute ends in early January, Emily D’Angelo will be back in Toronto to play Dorabella in COC’s Cosi fan Tutte  before returning to the Met to sing Annio in La Clemenza di Tito and Soeur Mathilde in Dialogues des Carmélites.  

Wednesday’s performance was the 443rd performance of The Magic Flute in the history of the Met. This current spectacular production can be found at the Met-On-Demand site where a trial membership for one week is free. Better still, attending the live performance proved to be an easy get-away trip to New York with the bonus that within a span of just a few days there were three operas available to us.

This production of The Magic Flute was first presented on the Met’s stage in 2004 and was such an overwhelming success that it was chosen to be the first “Live in HD” broadcast in 2006 in a re-worked slightly abbreviated English language version, brilliantly translated by J.D. McClatchy. It was this latter version that we saw on Wednesday evening. I couldn’t help but think that Mozart would have wanted it performed in the vernacular. The Magic Flute is an opera buffa with spoken dialogue between arias, ensembles and choruses much like an operetta. It made perfect sense to perform it in English. 

Musically, the performance hit all the right buttons. Conductor Harry Bicket led a first-rate cast made up mostly of graduates and current members of the Lindeman Young Artist Development Program at the Met. Kathryn Lewek (Queen of the Night) may be the ideal Queen of the Night these days. Her magnificent coloratura arpeggios in “Here is my Heart” (Der Hölle Rache) made it a show-stopper. She is familiar to Toronto audiences having performed the role with the COC several years ago. Ben Bliss was equally impressive as Tamino with his lyrically clear tenor voice. Toronto audiences will have a chance to hear him in the upcoming Cosi fan tutte next month. Baritone Nathan Gunn as Papageno carried off the physical comedy as well as the demanding singing role with his rich baritone voice. His duet with Ashley Emerson (Papagena) was delightful. Others in the cast included the impressive bass Morris Robinson as Sarastro, the magnificent soprano Erin Morley as Pamina and Brenton Ryan as Monastros. The many beautiful flute solos in the orchestra were a very special treat. 

The production by Julie Taynor is a visual delight as well as a comic and musical masterpiece. The sets in translucent pieces were filled with imagery of freemasonry. The themes of honour, courage, truthfulness and love were reinforced by the visual symbolism. The production featured elaborate use of puppetry including dancing bears, special lighting effects, imaginative masks, dancers on stilts and wildly colourful costumes. It’s no wonder that the production has become a seasonal favourite at the Met, rotating with The Merry Widow and Hansel and Gretel