Maybe it's just that I've been watching absolute junk versions of this opera in my quest to find a DVD of it I actually wanted to buy, but this production left me feeling very, very happy. I'd have to say that, out of the Magic Flute DVDs I've seen, this is my favorite--and I'm including Ingmar Bergman's version in that statement.
While it's very clear that this is a documentation of a stage production (evidenced especially by the applause after each aria), it's still very well done. I'm not saying that this is cinematic gold--there's only so much even a great cameraman can do with a stage production--but the camera angles are sensible and manage to capture all the action (unlike Bergman), and enough closer shots are used that we feel as if we have front row seats.
The singing is good across the board, and if the acting falls a bit flat or goes a bit too far every now and then, we ought to remind ourselves that these are opera singers, not film actors. The sets are dynamic and detailed, and the costumes are fairly traditional, even if Papageno has less feathers than he did back in Mozart's day. It's a joy to see such a good, solid production, and I would recommend this as a good starting point for someone new to the opera.
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