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Columbus Makes Art Presents: An Unexpected Evening of Mozart and James Bond in Mission: Seraglio

Rolanda Copley Rolanda Copley Columbus Makes Art Presents: An Unexpected Evening of Mozart and James Bond in Mission: SeraglioOpera Columbus puts a modern-day twist on Mozart’s action/adventure comedy, The Abduction from the Seraglio, transforming it into the James Bond-themed spectacular, Mission: Seraglio. Photo by Jennifer Toole.
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What do Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and James Bond have in common? Nothing. Until now. Opera Columbus has put a modern-day twist on Mozart’s action/adventure comedy, The Abduction from the Seraglio, transforming it into the James Bond-themed spectacular, Mission: Seraglio. How did this happen? What does this mean? What can we expect? We went behind the scenes with Mission: Seraglio conductor Jason Hiester on our own reconnaissance-gathering mission to find out more!

Rolanda: How long have you lived in Columbus? When did you become involved with Opera Columbus?
Jason: I have lived in Columbus for 16 years and became involved with Opera Columbus in the 2005-06 season. It’s truly been a joy working with Opera Columbus. My colleagues and the donors are completely dedicated and passionate about opera. I am proud of Opera Columbus’ mission to better the Columbus community through the power of this wonderful art form.

Mission: Seraglio conductor Jason Hiester.

Mission: Seraglio conductor Jason Hiester.

Rolanda: How did you get into conducting opera?
Jason: I started off as a pianist and singer with a love for opera. In college I began conducting both choral ensembles and orchestra. This led to a natural marrying of my passions in conducting and opera.

Rolanda: Do you have any favorite styles of music outside of opera?
Jason: I love jazz. I played in a jazz trio in my young days, it was a lot of fun!

Rolanda: Do you have any particular influences on your work?
Jason: There is always room to grow as a musician and conductor. I find studying current and past conductors a great source of inspiration and learning.

Rolanda: Can you tell us a little bit about Mission: Seraglio? What is the storyline?
Jason: Updated to modern day, this riotous staging marries the brilliance of Mozart’s comic gem with the flair of Hollywood Bond films. The story in a nutshell—two beautiful damsels in distress are held captive by a notorious Ottoman villain. It’s up to their faithful lovers (who are also special agents) to rescue them before it’s too late!

Rolanda: What makes this production different? Why the James Bond theme?
Jason: As a comic piece, The Abduction from the Seraglio is perfect for adaptation to the modern day. Director Michael Cavanagh came up with the Bond theme on top of that, and we went with it! It’s been a lot of fun putting this show together!

Rolanda: What are your responsibilities with the production?
Jason: I am conductor and chorus master of the show.

Rolanda: What is your favorite part of the production?
Jason: The music is really some of Mozart’s most ingenious comic writing. The arias are thoroughly beautiful and intricately crafted. So, I would say the music is a highlight for me, but working with the wonderful Columbus Symphony musicians, Opera Columbus singers and staff is even better!

Rolanda: What can audiences expect from Juilliard artist Miles Mykkanen as part of Opera Columbus’ new partnership with The Juilliard School?
Jason: He is a phenomenal singer and musician. Expect a wonderful performance.

Rolanda: Why should people come to a performance of Mission: Seraglio?
Jason: It’s going to be a hilariously entertaining evening filled with drama, music, great singing and Mozart. What could be better?

Opera Columbus presents Mission: Seraglio at the Southern Theatre (21 E. Main St.). There will be a preview performance on Wednesday, Jan. 25, at 1 p.m. with additional performances on Friday, Jan. 27, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Jan. 29, at 2 p.m. Tickets are $25-$88 (preview tickets are $10-30) at the CAPA Ticket Center (39 E. State St.), all Ticketmaster outlets and www.ticketmaster.com. To purchase by phone, call (614) 469-0939 or (800) 745-3000. Performed with the Columbus Symphony. All performances will be sung in German with English dialogue and English subtitles.

Columbus Makes Art Presents is a bi-weekly column brought to you by the Greater Columbus Arts Council – supporting art and advancing culture in Columbus. The column is a project of the Art Makes Columbus campaign, telling the inspiring stories of the people and organizations who create Columbus art. Each column will be written by a different local arts organization to give you an insiders look at how #artmakescbus.

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