A Glyndebourne staged production filmed for television. The house are obviously delighted with their set designer, David Hockney, who was probably at his most famous in 1978: the overture sequences images of the set design and its construction before going on to introduce the cast and conductor. It's a good use of the overture, though a little makeshift (clumsily edited) - it has the same appeal of Ingmar Bergman's idea for overviewing the audience during the same piece, though it has none of the intent or care.
The performance is very good. It's led from the pit, Bernard Haitink setting ideal speeds to get the most from the music and his cast. The singing is very good and the acting is surprisingly well matched. Everyone finds humour and a knowing sparkle in their roles (with the possible exception of Thomas Thomaschke's Sarastro who seems to think it's just another repertory opera performance).
It's not. Hockney's designs have a wonderful, cartoonish quality to them. They are at once colourful, fantastic and, being ingeniously 3-dimensional, drama-orientated. They are designed to be a part of the action, not just backdrops. The video is well filmed, from a number of different camera positions, many of which the cast play to, as if to a further audience. Nonetheless, it is stagebound, a relay of a theatre performance rather than a purpose-made film. 5/10
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