Levine 7th grader will sing, fly high in Dallas Opera opener
By Deb Silverthorn
“Opera is cool, it is!,” says Michael “Mikie” Blumenthal and he knows. The 13-year-old takes to the stage of “The Magic Flute,” opening The Dallas Opera’s upcoming season. Between Oct. 18 and Nov. 3, at the Winspear Opera House, Blumenthal will become one of three genies – his greatest power? His voice and personality.
“Voices coming together with the orchestra, costumes and the set – amazing,” said Mikie, a seventh grader at Levine Academy who appeared in The Dallas Opera’s 2019 “La Bohème.” “Opera is just inspiring.”
“The Magic Flute” is a fantastical story with diverse instrumentation. In the tale of courage, faith and the power of music, young Tamino undergoes much to save the beautiful Pamina, the Queen of the Night’s daughter. Genies and villains, bunnies, bats, boars and a magic flute are part of this high-flying adventure with Mikie flying 35-feet above the stage.
“Mozart wrote harmonically complicated parts and Mikie’s success is a testament to his passion for the art,” said the Dallas Opera’s Director of Artistic Administration David Lomeli. “To be so young, and singing alongside some of opera’s superstars, is rare but he is deserving.
Mikie, born in Brussels, Belgium, first heard opera on the family’s car radio at the age of 5. While mimicing the singer, his talent shone through leaving his father shocked.
“I asked him to sing more, then again. His voice was not of a child,” said his father Benjamin. “We’re devoted to Mikie’s music but also to his childhood,” said Benjamin, noting Mikie plays soccer, basketball and finds plenty of time to be with his friends.
The respect for music and Judaica may well be embedded, Mikie’s parents are musicians and his paternal grandfather, and great-grandfather, rabbis. Mikie who began professional training in 2017, is a student of Brian Schexnayder and Nili Riemer, coincidentally a Levine Academy parent.
“I love opera and keeping Shabbos,” said Mikie, who celebrated his bar mitzvah in Jerusalem this summer. For him, 5 p.m. Shabbat dinners, staying close to and walking to the theater are easy accommodations. “It’s about community and family, and fortunately being observant and being a singer can happen.”
Mikie, who with his family moved to Dallas when he was seven, has sung on the stage of Levine Academy’s events and also at a Bnai Zion event, a Congregation Nishmat Am gala, the JCC Bagel Run and the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas’ annual meeting. Operatic expressions of “Hatikvah” and “Star-Spangled Banner,” won’t soon be forgotten.
“Mikie has an extraordinary and tremendous talent and he’s bringing so much joy to our community,” said Levine Academy’s Head of School Tom Elieff. “He remains strong in his academics, he’s a beloved friend, good athlete and proud Jew. He makes us all at Levine very proud.”
“Mozart was a wonderful composer but if we think of him as a songwriter, it’s really the same, maybe more people would be interested,” said Mikie, who has studied German to prepare for his upcoming role.
With an already strong fan base, including many of his classmates who were introduced to the art by him, Mikie is ready to take the stage at the Winspear.
“I hope people who love opera will come,” he said, “but what I really hope is people who wouldn’t think to give it a chance will come because I’m sure we can change their minds.”
For tickets and information visit tinyurl.com/Mikie-Blumenthal-Magic-Flute. Levine Academy families should email firstname.lastname@example.org