Mozart in Mexico? That’s the premise of Boston Lyric Opera’s new world-premiere production of “The Magic Flute.” Forget the original Egyptian setting, and the odes to Isis and Osiris, and the paean to freemasonry. In this English-language adaptation by Leon Major, Kelley Rourke, and John Conklin, college students Tommy, Pamela, Patrick, and Monty are studying Mayan ruins. When they come on stage and Pamela says, “I can’t believe we’re really here,” and Tommy answers, “Yeah, the Mayans were such an advanced civilization,” you might think you’re in for an evening of Mozart Lite. In fact, this is a thoughtfully reimagined “Magic Flute” that, well staged and exquisitely sung and acted, probes the serious subtext of Mozart’s singspiel.
At the outset of your standard “Magic Flute,” Tamino is menaced by a serpent. Here, Tommy is bitten by a snake and begins to hallucinate. In his dream, he’s Tamino, Pamela is Pamina, birdwatcher Patrick is Papageno, and sulky Monty, who has the hots for Pamela, is Monostatos.