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Mozart's The Magic Flute (1978)

| Music, Comedy, Fantasy | TV Movie

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Leo Goeke ...
Felicity Lott ...
Benjamin Luxon ...
Elisabeth Conquet ...
May Sandoz ...
Thomas Thomaschke ...
Willard White ...
John Fryatt ...
Teresa Cahill ...
Fiona Kimm ...
Third Lady
Kate Flowers ...
Lindsay John ...
Second Boy
Elizabeth Stokes ...
Third Boy
Richard Berkeley-Steele ...
A Priest
Neil McKinnon ...
First Armed Man


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Music | Comedy | Fantasy




Also Known As:

Die Zauberflöte - The Magic Flute  »

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Version of Il flauto magico (1978) See more »

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User Reviews

A musical feast and one of my personal favourite Magic Flutes
18 January 2012 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I watched this Glyndebourne performance as part of my Mozart marathon, having seen all the 6 Mozart Glyndebourne productions released as part of the Mozart Opera Glyndebourne collection. And I loved it, it is one of my favourite Zauberflotes(Magic Flutes) alongside the 2003 Covent Garden and 1982 Salzburg productions and the Bergman film, and the 1991 Met and 1983 Munich performances are also worth watching as well as the Die Zauberflote Fur Kinder DVD.

As far as the Mozart Glyndebourne performances in this collection go, for me this Magic Flute is one of the better ones. The best are the 1973 Le Nozze Di Figaro and the 1980/1 Die Entfuhrung Aus Dem Serail. 1975's Cosi Fan Tutte is excellent also, and 1977's Don Giovanni is decent. The only disappointment is the 1974 Idomeneo, despite a promising beginning, an excellent Elettra and of course Mozart's sublime score, it is dull and stodgy with even my main reason for watching the DVD(Richard Lewis) disappointing.

Back to this Magic Flute, I do find the production values interesting. David Hockney's sets show a variety of styles artistically, with a heavy Egyptian and Picasso influence and Baroque cloud-mobiles for the Three Boys. The costumes are appropriate also, mostly toga style with a few exceptions, namely the traditional bird costume for Papagaeno. The picture quality is good with focused camera work. The sound may have some muffled moments, but nothing too major, nothing compared to Idomeneo. Die Zauberflote I, and seemingly others as well, regard as Mozart's most difficult opera to stage. The staging here was conservative but never static and overdone.

Musically it is a feast. The music is magnificent, well it is Mozart why wouldn't it be, and the orchestra play with a powerful and sensitive sound and Bernard Haitink's conducting as always reliable, brisker than Davis and more sympathetic than Levine but other than a too fast Ah Ich Fuhl Sawallisch on DVD is my best bet. The chorus are excellent especially in the Isis and Osiris Chorale. The performances are outstanding. The one that stood out was Felicity Lott, she is the most radiant and most poignant Pamina I've seen on DVD. I like Roschmann, Battle, Cotrubas and especially Popp just as much, but although I like their portrayal and respect them a lot as artists, Lott's Ah Ich Fuhl is (in my opinion) by far the loveliest and most musically and intelligently phrased of either of them.

Leo Goeke I wasn't expecting to work but actually I thought he was very good as Tamino. I say that I wasn't expecting him to work because I didn't like his Ottavio and was disappointed by his Idamante, but while the voice is not what I call a beautiful instrument it is the most musical and controlled I've heard him sing- he is much more nuanced than Araiza for example- and his acting more involved than the aforementioned Mozart roles.

Benjamin Luxon is wonderful, my third favourite Papagaeno after Simon Keenlyside and Manfred Hemm. His singing is rich and very musical, and he is appropriately witty and charming. Elizabeth Couquet is the most beautiful and funniest Papagaena I've seen too, and while John Fryatt chews the scenery he never overplays to the point of embarrassment and he does well to articulate. Willard White is a rich and magnetic presence as the Speaker, though I couldn't help thinking whether he would've been better as Sarastro.

Speaking of Sarastro, the performance of Thomas Thomaschke is solid. His acting is good, he has a good voice and he's musical. My problem was seeing Sarastro as a younger man compared to the firmer and more benevolent figure of Kurt Moll or the imposing one of Martti Talvela, both of whom are more my idea of this role. Thomaschke does also occasionally have some problems with his control, his many long phrases could have been more sustained and more legato wouldn't have gone amiss.

May Sandoz makes a suitably commanding presence as the Queen of the Night, a character that has only 20 minutes of screen time overall but steals all her scenes, but while her middle/lower registers are warm for my tastes her colouratura and agility weren't quite there coming across as somewhat smudgy. I have to say on a more positive note however that the ensembles are outstanding, the two Armed Men are formidable and the Three Ladies and Three Boys are blended beautifully.

In conclusion, one of my personal favourite productions of one of Mozart's best. 8.5/10 Bethany Cox

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