This production of Mozart’s Zauberflöte received enormous and unanimous approval, when it was premiered in Salzburg. The Theatre wizard Jean-Pierre Ponnellecreated a staging which became part and parcel of the festival programme for over nine years and soon acquired the status of a legend. Of course, none of that would have had the same appeal if it had not been in accord with Mozart’s music, performed with perfect blend of lightness and pathos, humour and profundity, by James Levine and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra; nor would it all have worked without a truly Festival-worthy cast of singers: the Finnish bass Martti Talvela, who departed way too soon in 1989, in his famous role as Sarastro, the incomparable Edita Gruberová as “the best-ever Queen of the Night” (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung), the legendary Tamino Peter Schreier as well as the petite, lyrical soprano Ileana Cotrubas˛ as Pamina. Further, Christian Boesch, who sang the role of his life with Papageno, was credited most for his performance in this legendary Zauberflöte.
There's magic in these musical hills, as conductor Arnold Östman leads an exemplary performance of Die Zauberflöte on original instruments.Sumi Jo's breathtaking Queen of the Night is the queen of intonation, while Barbara Bonny's Pamina is a phrasing angel, from her pianissimo B flats to her gentle, yet heartfelt, "Ach ich fühl's." Singing as comfortably as a folk singer, Kurt Streit's lyrical, yet dramatic, Tamino is manly and heroic. Gilles Cachemaille is an appropriately charming Papageno, and all supporting performances are stellar. This crystal-clear interpretation must be as close to perfection as Mozart probably dreamed. A true treasure.–Barbara Eisner Bayer
“One of Böhm's last operatic assignments, he accompanies his fine cast with huge wisdom. Gruberova and Talvela are outstanding. August Everding's production, adventurous for 1980, is now a delight to look at” (BBC Music Magazine). “the performance has a winning glow, with an excellent cast of soloists. Edita Gruberova as Konstanze is at her freshest…[Grist's Blonde] is a charming and characterful assumption, most of all when confronting the powerful Osmin of Martii Tavela” (Penguin Guide).
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, baptised as Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart, was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. Born in Salzburg, he showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood. Already competent on keyboard and violin, he composed from the age of five and performed before European royalty. At 17, Mozart was engaged as a musician at the Salzburg court, but grew restless and traveled in search of a better position…
From fairy tale to great opera: With Die Zauberflöte Mozart made the step from simple Singspiel to a full-blown German opera, thus laying the foundations for an independent opera culture in the German language. The 1973 Electrola recording combines a truly legendary vocal ensemble, featuring first and foremost Edda Moser, whom many people still regard as the best Queen of the Night of all time, Walter Berry as a Papageno oozing Viennese charm, Anneliese Rothenberger as the enchanting Pamina and Peter Schreier as her loving Tamino.
This will be the Magic Flute chosen by most people who want to live with just one. It finds Georg Solti in a relatively relaxed state of mind, with an excellent if not particularly famous cast, and an orchestra and chorus that any conductor would give his left arm (not the one that welds the baton) to work with. The singers are not particularly well-known (London seems to have set up Solti as the star of this production) but a lack of celebrity attitudes and close attention to the conductor have paid substantial dividends in this production. Sumi Jo, in a spectacular and dramatic performance of the Queen of the Night's two arias, attracts special attention, as do Uwe Heilmann (Tamino) and Michael Kraus (Papageno). –Joe McLellan
Originating by way of an Aix-En-Provence Festival staging, William Christie and his Arts Florissants bring dramatic flair and musical panache to Mozart's great late Singspiel in equal measure. To begin with, there's a dream cast led by the alluring pairing of Hans Peter Blochwitz as Tamino and Rosa Mannion as Pamina. Anton Scharinger makes for an earthy Papageno, Reinhard Hagen is a commanding Sarastro, whilst Natalie Dessay's input as Queen of the Night comes over in both her showpiece arias as steadfast and electrifying. The casting in depth continues: rare is a Magic Flute that can boast singers of the calibre of Willard White and Linda Kitchen in the relatively small roles of Speaker and Papagena. Then, the uniformly warm vocal blend is homogeneously matched, note for note, with the gut strings and less aggressive winds of Les Arts Florissants. Not that there's anything limp or lacklustre about Christie's brisk tempi; whilst sharp editing maintains the theatrical urgency. The melliflously played "magic" flute and exact keyed glockenspiel input for Papageno's bells are further examples of the care which has gone into this state of the art "authentic" interpretation. With a work like The Magic Flute, recorded choices are voluminous. Neville Marriner with his Academy of St Martins-in-the-Fields on Phillips puts in a brave showing, but William Christie maybe wins out in a thorough interpretation which simultaneously celebrates the opera's joy and mystery. –Duncan Hadfield