Joseph Kaiser, Amy Carson in Kenneth Branagh's "The Magic Flute"

Joseph Kaiser as Tamino and Amy Carson as Pamina star in Kenneth Branagh's film version of Mozart's "The Magic Flute." (Rolf Konow)

After a trip to Amsterdam in the summer of 2008, Los Angeles Times music critic Mark Swed brought back a curious souvenir: a three-disc Dutch edition of Kenneth Branagh's "The Magic Flute,” which he’d spotted in a remote record-store window.

Upon returning home, he watched the 2006 film adaptation of Mozart’s opera and was so moved that he wrote: “I am at a loss to understand why this film has been marginalized. 'Flute' is a joy.”

The Branagh film, updating the opera from 1791 to World War I, premiered at the Toronto and Venice International Film Festivals and had limited overseas runs; but it has never showed in the U.S. -- until now.

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On June 9, the Branagh-directed “Flute” is scheduled to screen at about 150 Emerging Pictures theaters across the country. Encore screenings are to follow on June 11. Branagh is to take questions in a live question-and answer session with audiences, webcasted from London, following the Sunday screening.

The film by the five-time Academy Award nominee features a libretto adapted by British actor Stephen Fry and music arranged and conducted by Los Angeles Opera music director James Conlon. It was originally created to honor Mozart's 250th birthday, part of an international celebration.   

Ingmar Bergman also famously adapted "The Magic Flute,” in a production released on Swedish TV in 1975. Branagh’s version, produced on a not-too-shabby $27-million budget, was intended specifically for the big screen.

For screening information, go to emergingpictures.com

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