Magical Designs for Mozart’s Magic Flute compares scenic and costume designs from a select group of 19th, 20th, and 21st century productions extolled for their remarkable visual achievement. Included are rare renderings from historic productions in the holdings of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Conceived and curated by acclaimed theatrical designer Judy Levin and organized by the Kent State University Museum in partnership with the Library, it includes designs, set models, properties, and costumes.

Premiered in 1791, the Magic Flute has inspired countless teams of directors and designers to create imaginative productions beguiling audiences of all ages. This is the tale of Prince Tamino and his efforts to rescue Pamina, the abducted daughter of the Queen of the Night. He is armed with a magic flute, accompanied by the Queen’s bird catcher, Papageno, with magic bells, and guided by three young boys. Tamino finds Pamina, and after enduring tests and trials, finds enlightenment. The struggle between the Queen of the Night and Sarastro, the high priest of Isis and Osiris, representing the forces of light, and the eventual triumph of reason and virtue, set to Mozart’s sublime music, have delighted audiences worldwide for over two centuries.

The group of productions includes those emphasizing the masonic themes, replete with Egyptian and exotic motifs, as well as re-envisioned and more abstract versions that set the scene in later times and places. Costumes from the Metropolitan Opera’s 1967 production designed by Marc Chagall and their 2004 production designed by Julie Taymor; from the Salzburg Festival, productions designed by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle, Achim Freyer, and Karel Appel are included in the exhibition in addition to stage designs by Joseph Hoffmann, Richard Rychtarik, David Hockney, Maurice Sendak, Gerald Scarfe, Philip Prowse, Julie Taymor, William Kentridge, John Conklin, and Jun Kaneko, among others. Magical Designs provides an unparalleled opportunity to examine the varying visual interpretations of this singular opera by exceptional theatre artists.

Exhibition hours: Monday and Thursday, 10:30 AM - 8 PM; Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, 10:30AM - 6 PM.