Tim Hussin, Deseret Morning News
Joel Rosenberg, center, conducts the Paradigm Chamber Orchestra. The group will perform Mozart's "The Magic Flute," which appeals to musicians and audiences.

Mozart's music was never fully appreciated by many of his contemporaries. It wasn't until well after his death in 1791 that his genius was finally being understood.

Fortunately today, Mozart's music has found universal appeal among musicians and audiences alike.

That's perhaps nowhere more evident than in one of his last works, the opera (or, more accurately, "Singspiel") "The Magic Flute."

The work functions on several levels. On one level, there is the magical element of serpents and of ferocious animals wooed into dancing by the mesmerizing tones of Tamino's magic flute. On another level, there is the age-old battle between good and evil — personified in the opera by the struggle between the Queen of the Night and Sarastro, who wrenches Pamina away from her mother, the queen, and saves her from her preordained fate in the realm of darkness. And finally, there is the symbolism of Freemasonry embedded throughout the libretto and music.

But above all there is Mozart's magnificent music. And what makes it even more glorious is that one doesn't need to understand the innermost secrets of the score to enjoy it. One can appreciate it on its most basic level — to be sure, one can delight in the way Mozart delineates the characters, whether by ornate Italian arias or by simple German Singspiel songs, but it's the music that elevates this simple tale to a higher artistic and creative sphere.

Joel Rosenberg's Paradigm Chamber Orchestra and Robert Breault's Lyric Opera Ensemble team up to present "The Magic Flute" this coming weekend in two semi-staged performances in Thompson Chamber Music Hall in the University of Utah's David Gardner Hall.

"This is our second formal collaboration," Rosenberg told the Deseret Morning News. "Although we've worked together for years, and Bob has sung in (Paradigm's) productions of 'La Boheme' and 'Carmen,' our first really formal collaboration was Rossini's 'The Barber of Seville' last year."'

That proved to be so successful that Rosenberg and Breault decided to continue the partnership this year.

The performances this weekend are double cast and will feature members of Breault's Utah Lyric Opera Ensemble. It will be directed by former ensemble member Anthony Buck. The singers will be costumed, and the opera will be sung in English.

"Anthony has rewritten some of the dialogue, and we're doing a slightly shortened version of the opera, but only with a few small cuts," Rosenberg said. A recitative and a small section of the Act I finale will be omitted, along with a duet in Act II. "In effect, we're doing the entire opera."

If you go . . .

What: Mozart's "The Magic Flute" with the Utah Lyric Opera Ensemble and the Paradigm Chamber Orchestra, Joel Rosenberg, conductor

Where: Thompson Chamber Music Hall, David Gardner Hall, University of Utah

When: Friday and Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

How much: $10 general admission

Phone: 581-7100

Web: www.kingtix.com

E-mail: ereichel@desnews.com