High art last night on local PBS, Mozart’s Magic Flute from the Metropolitan Opera via Great Performances, had a very Portland connection. Somehow the most famous opera was pushed aside by the amazing costumes, sets and puppetry of Julie Taymor and Michael Curry.

Curry’s magic puppets and costumes have brought life and fame to dozens of theatrical productions, including The Lion King, Spamalot, Disney live productions, the Winter Olympics (for which he won an Emmy), Cirque du Soleil, Grendal, and most recently the display areas of the richest casinos and hotels round the world.

His imagery, of wheeling long-necked birds spinning from high poles, or twenty foot armatured puppets manipulated by integrated dancers, has become a standard worldwide of surreal dream fantasy fun.

Incongruous as it seems – Curry’s design shop is located in Scappoose – 25 miles North and West of Portland. Why Scappoose? Evidentially Scappoose is a nexus of highly talented and loyal artisans and craftspersons who keep churning out high production ooohs and ahhs, and of a both civilized and remote place to get dreams rolled out onto the factory floor.

According to it’s fairly amazing web site, Die Zauberflöte has been performed 357 times at The Met – the first in 1900!

But even with René Pape as Sarastro and Cornelia Götz (above) as The Queen of the Night, all the music was completely blown off the stage by Taymor and Curry’s costumes and puppets. Magical on television, they must have been mind-blowing to witness in person.

Wiki – Magic Flute.
Great Performances – The Magic Flute / Die Zauberflöte
Michael Curry Design Studios