Mary Zimmerman is gaining renown for her visually dazzling, beguilingly clever theater adaptations of literary classics, and she’s shown a knack for seamlessly incorporating musical elements. Like her mentor Frank Galati, she ought to be a natural for opera, and her first crack at it is her staging of Mozart’s The Magic Flute for the Chicago Opera Theater, which has a well-earned reputation as one of the country’s best presenters of Mozart in English. But for the first time in her career she’s been given a packaged production. The sets and costumes, originally commissioned by the Saint Louis Opera, were designed by John Conklin and his team without any input from Zimmerman. What’s more, the cast was assembled by COT’s music director, Lawrence Rapchak, with help from COT founder Alan Stone but none from Zimmerman. Not surprisingly, she’s calling herself a “stager” rather than a “director.” Yet in that role Zimmerman–with her effervescent yet serious personality, which seems perfectly suited to the opera’s blend of enchantment and sublimity–is likely to leave an indelible impression. The roster of singers includes Barton Green (Tamino), Elisabeth Comeaux (Pamina), David Huneryager (Papageno), and Susan Wallin (Queen of the Night), as well as COT veterans Kurt Link (Sarastro) and Leslie Goodman (Second Lady). Rapchak, who with artistic director Carl Ratner took over COT’s reins last season, is the conductor. Friday, 7:30 PM, Sunday, 3 PM, Thursday and next Saturday, June 10, 7:30 PM, and next Sunday, June 11, 3 PM, Merle Reskin Theatre, 60 E. Balbo; 292-7578.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo/Dan Rest.