I have seen many performances of Die Zauberflote on stage, on TV, and on DVD. This is by far the best of the lot. All of the performers are terrific. Many reviewers of the performance have commented on the outstanding work of Diana Damrau's Queen of the Night and Simon Keenlyside's Papageno and I completely agree. However, I also want to underline the emotional realism that Dorothea Roschmann was able to bring to her part as Pamina and the heroic stoicism of Will Hartmann as Tamino. Ailish Tynan, a singer whose work I was previously unfamiliar with, is a highlight as Papagena- whenever she showed up on stage, sparks flew. Franz-Josef Selig as Sarastro was able to be regal without being boring (it helps when you have a bass like his) and the Queen's Three Ladies were simultaneously beautiful, amusing, and threatening (no mean trick). Probably the thing that I liked best in this performance was staging the action in the Age of Enlightenment. This underlined the philosophical elements that Mozart input into the opera and took away, or at least greatly diminished, the fairy tale, fantasy aspects that are often focused upon in other performances. This staging also helped the humorous aspects of the Papageno/Pagagena relationship stand out since Ms. Tynan, dressed in garish 1960's/1970's garb, was an eye sore compared to the "proper" eighteenth century folk around her resulting in her performance being such a hoot (and was better than the P/P pair being dressed up as pseudo-birds). All in all, this is a fabulous performance which I cannot recommend any more highly.
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