“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…
Critical acclaim for this superb co-production of Vienna's Staatsoper, the Wiener Festwochen and Brussels' Théâtre de la Monnaie (Das Opernglas): "Directors Ursel and Karl-Ernst Herrmann, working with Nikolaus Harnoncourt, demonstrate that the 'Entführung' is fully on the level of Mozart's Da Ponte operas and 'Zauberflöte'. In the harmony of staging and music, this is one of the most impressive Mozart performances Vienna has offered in a long time… Breaking with tradition, it seeks to fulfil his intentions as closely as possible."
Set in the exotic seraglio of the Pasha Selim, the story revolves around the rescue of the lovely Constanze by her lover Belmonte – a tale of love, bravery and forgiveness. In this work, Mozart breaks new ground in introducing dramatically rounded characters with recognisably human feelings and weaknesses. The work influenced and changed the nature of opera throughout Europe. This charming production from Drottningholm does full justice to Mozart’s score. Arnold Östman’s deliberate conducting combined with Carl Friedrich Oberle’s design demonstrates that this really is “an eternal masterpiece of music drama by a youthful, exuberant composer who suddenly found his individual voice and style in the field of opera with this particular work” (Opera now)
Die Zauberflöte is the artistic and philosophical testament of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who died a few weeks after the work’s première in Vienna. Intertwining music of awesome purity and beauty with the conventions of the singspiel - a popular form of musical comedy – Mozart’s final operatic legacy to the world explores Man’s search for the truth and his confusion between the forces of dark and light and the final utopian resolution of seemingly irreconcilable elements. Because of the opera’s relationship to freemasonry, commentators have identified Tamino with the Emperor Joseph II, Pamina with the Austrian people, Sarastro with Ignaz von Born, Monostatos with the clergy and the Queen of the Night with the Empress Maria Theresa. Whichever level one approaches Die Zauberflöte on, it remains a great work in the spirit of the Enlightenment as well as a delightful fairy-tale. Nothing is so simple as to be absolutely clear-cut. In life, the serious and the comic often intermingle in a way that is disconcerting. In Die Zauberflöte, Mozart succeeds in combining these two elements in a way which has never been surpassed. The light and vibrant presentation of the Scandinavian cast - internationally renowned bass Lászlo Polgár is the only non-Scandinavian soloists – the authentic staging and the lean orchestra sound conducted by the illustrious Arnold Östman makes this performance definitely one of the best Zauberflöte-performances of the 20th century.
Covent Garden’s 2003 production of The Magic Flute , designed by John F. Macfarlane, directed by David McVicar, and conducted by Sir Colin Davis, is magnificent from a strictly musical standpoint. More than that, it’s vastly entertaining. The comedic elements of the story integrate far more comfortably than is often the case with Schikaneder’s high-minded (if vague) theme of a quest for enlightenment, particularly in the second act. Visually, the production is a feast, yet it doesn’t distract from the music. The intention was to maintain an 18th-century feel but to play freely with that aesthetic…
Barcelona’s prestigious Gran Teatre del Liceu presents Mozart’s beloved singspiel in an elegant, dramaturgically twisted production with a sparkling cast of top-rank international stars headed by coloratura soprano Diana Damrau as Konstanze and rising opera star Olga Peretyatko as Blonde.
What begins like a fairy-tale turns into a whimsical fantasy halfway between magic farce and Masonic mysticism: The Magic Flute links a love story with the great questions of the Enlightenment, juxtaposes bird-catcher charm with queenly vengeance, and bewitches the listener with music that mixes cheerful melodies, lovers’ arias, show-stopping coloraturas and mysterious chorales.
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