All Rights reserved
Kenneth Branagh has plucked actors from the opera world for his feature adaptation of Mozart's The Magic Flute. Joseph Kaiser, Ben Davis, Rene Pape, Lyubov Petrova, and newcomer Amy Carson have been cast in the lead roles. Flute chronicles the adventures of Prince Tamino (Kaiser) and his sidekick, Papageno the bird seller (Davis), as they battle evil forces to rescue Princess Pamina (Carson). Pape will play Sarastro, the wise priest, while Petrova will portray Queen Elizabeth of the Night. Mozart wrote the two-act opera, one of his last works, in 1791. He died in December 1791, just two months after it premiered in Vienna.
Branagh and gay British actor-writer-director Stephen Fry wrote the adaptation. The actors will record the music in the fall, then shoot the film in January. The budget is about $20 million. Kaiser is an emerging opera star who has performed at New York's Lincoln Center and is a member of the Lyric Opera Center for American Artists in Chicago. Davis appeared on Broadway in Baz Luhrmann's La Boheme, Les Miserables, and Thoroughly Modern Millie. He is a rising baritone on the stage scene. German-born Pape is a leading bass who has toured with the Metropolitan Opera in New York and was named vocalist of the year in 2002 by Musical America. (Borys Kit, via Reuters)