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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) Opera in Two Acts
Tamino … Will Hartmann
Pamina … Dorothea Röschmann
Queen of Night … Diana Damrau
Sarsatro…Franz-Josef Selig
Papageno…Simon Keenlyside
Papagena…Ailish Tynan
Monostatos…Adrian Thompson
First Lady…Gillian Webster
Second Lady…Christine Rice
Third Lady…Yvonne Howard
Speaker of the Temple…Thomas Allen
First Priest…Matthew Beale
Second Priest…Richard Van Allen
First Man in Armour…Alan Oke
Second Man in Armour…Graeme Broadbent
First Boy…Zico Shaker
Second Boy…Tom Chapman
Third Boy…John Holland-Avery
Royal Opera Chorus and The Orchestra of the Royal Opera House/Sir Colin Davis
Royal Opera Covent Garden production

Filmed: Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London, 27 January 2003
BBC OPUS ARTE OA 0885 D PAL [Approx: 185 mins]

I beg to differ with those critics who earlier this year tended to scorn David McVicar’s new production of Mozart’s imperishable masterpiece. Its ambiguous yet subtle staging enhanced by imaginative and focused lighting, its equally ambiguous-as-to-period costumes, its endearing animal characterisations (masked-headed actors and a huge man-twisting serpent etc) and the boys’ wooden-cart like flying structure etc - all add a rather disarming charm. The only jarring element is Ailish Tynan’s Papagena, the weakest in a strong cast of soloists. She looks like Beryl Reid’s huge-ear-ringed Marlene on a bad night in Birmingham.

The star of the production, who incidentally drew the biggest applause, is Simon Keenleyside as Papageno portrayed as a rather awkward, melancholy, buffoon, a cowardly chatterbox. Diana Damrau chews the scenery with great relish as the cunning and conniving Queen of the Night. Her volatile and treacherous three ladies (Webster, Rice and Howard) are equally convincing. Will Hartmann, in fine heroic voice makes a stalwart, stoical Tamino matched by Dorothea Röschmann’s beautifully expressed and composed Pamina. Franz-Josef Selig is an imposing yet also sympathetic Sarastro and Thomas Allen an authoritative Speaker of the Temple.

There are extra features included: an illustrated synopsis of the opera, a behind-the-scenes look at the production, and illuminating comments about this production and the philosophy of The Magic Flute by conductor, Sir Colin Davis.

A charming, imaginative staging of Mozart’s operatic masterpiece with some fine singing from a sterling cast. Recommended.

Ian Lace


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