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Mozart, The Magic Flute: San Francisco Opera; Donato Cabrera, conductor; War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco. 31.10.2007  (PD)


Tamino: Piotr Beczala

Pamina: Dina Kuznetsova
Papageno: Christopher Maltman
The Queen of the Night: Erika Miklosa
Sarastro: Georg Zeppenfeld


Director – Stanley M. Garner
Production Designer – Gerald Scarfe


 Piotr Beczala (Tamino) and Dina Kuznetsova (Pamina)

Following the somber, sober, and politically-charged Appomattox, SFO audiences were given a light-hearted reprieve on Holloween night with the imaginative staging of a “war horse” of another nature.

Back in the spotlight was Piotr Beczala, who had mightily impressed critics here three years ago with his performance in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. While this role hardly has the demands posed by that  particular debut, he appears to be even more self-assured and powerful.

Dina Kuznetsova was a radiant Pamina, demonstrating that her acting has come a long way since she was last seen here as Musetta in La Bohème in  2003. Her voice was full and round, too, and she never faltered through any of the more demanding passages.


Erika Miklosa (Queen of the Night)

The show stealer, though, was the dynamic coloratura, Erika Miklosa, who  by now owns the role of Queen of the Night. Dressed in a stunning  “dominatrix” costume, she gave an over-the-top performance that proved  to be the highlight of the evening. Her aria, “Der Holle Rache kocht in  meinem Herzen,” was campy, threatening, and dripping with revenge.

Vocal pyrotechnics aside, the other noteworthy aspect of this rendering  was the production created by Gerald Scarfe. While looking a bit tired  since it was first staged in Los Angeles back in the 90s, the  fantastical creatures roaming about still managed to charm and enchant.  Stanley Garner deserves praise, too, for his masterful direction.

Giving passable, but uninspired performances, were Christopher Maltman  as Papageno, and Georg Zeppenfeld as Sarastro. The orchestra was  well-rehearsed and given a free rein by its maestro, Donato Cabrera, and the company’s chorus was in its usual robust form.

 Paul Duclos


Pictures © Terrence McCarthy  

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