Review: Mozart’s Magic Castle (Opera Atelier)

Real Christmas magic with Opera Atelier’s Magic Castle at Toronto’s beautiful Casa Loma

Mozart’s Magic Castle is put on in the beautiful Casa Loma and features several interactive activities and performances that are inspired by Mozart’s famous opera, the Magic Flute. The actual opera performance is a short snippet of three arias that is more like a preview for Opera Atelier’s upcoming spring performance of the Magic Flute.

The performance took place in the Great Hall, a huge room with a gigantic Christmas tree that would surely astound Buddy the elf. It was filled with dozens of children; Girl Guides with their leaders, kids with their parents and a just few adults without children. The children somehow knew -or perhaps I missed the instructions- to form a large circle on the floor so that the two performers could leap into the centre to sing their songs as close to their audience as possible.

Though very short, only three songs, the male and female characters Tamino and Pamina each sang one song and then came together for the last number. The songs were sung in German but when the singers spoke to the audience afterwards, they explained that the upcoming opera would be sung in English. The two singers also explained what each song was actually about, which I thought was great since I can’t speak German and I’m guessing that most of the other people in the audience couldn’t either. Short and sweet, I think it was absolutely perfect considering most of their audience was under age 10 and probably wouldn’t be able to withstand a large number of songs in a language they couldn’t understand.

When the performance was finished, the audience dispersed and my roommate and I wandered about Casa Loma to see what other programs were available. Even though the home is absolutely jaw-dropping on its own, I really enjoyed the interactive and Christmas-themed twist that we were able to enjoy. As we explored different rooms, we came across costumed characters that were said to be a part of the Magic Flute (although not the opera singers who helmed the performance). These characters asked us questions to get us involved in their performance and even went behind the roped off areas -gasp!- to continue their performances as we watched.

All in all, Mozart’s Magic Castle features a lot of very family-oriented programs. I think it’s a great afternoon for parents and children to get in the Christmas spirit together. Aside from the beautiful opera songs, some other activities that children are invited to take part in are taking pictures with Santa; interacting with the wandering, costumed characters throughout the home; helping build a majestic dragon, going on a scavenger hunt, taking part in story time, and more.

Mozart’s Magic Castle is at Casa Loma (1 Austin Terrace) until December 30, 2012
-The show runs from December 1 to December 30 on varying dates
– Shows are at 10am & 12pm
– Interactive activities and performances are included with admission to Casa Loma
-Tickets to Casa Loma are available in person and online