This is not my favourite production of Mozart's Die Zauberflote this said. I do prefer the 2003(Covent Garden), 1971(Ustinov-directed), 1982(Salzburg), 1978(Glyndebourne) and Bergman film, while also enjoying the 1983(with Popp, Araiza and Moll) and the 1991(Met) just as much. However, I very much liked this Zurich Zauberflote, especially for the singing.
Some may find that the minimalist settings takes away from some of the opera's magic. Actually I liked the minimalist settings, and I equally liked the serpent at the start, very enticing and somewhat menacing. Although I would have preferred a more magical entrance for the Three Boys, the only real let down with the production were the costumes of the Three Ladies, looking at them(the previous review sums it up quite well I feel) you would not expect them to sing and act the way they did.
When it comes to how the production is presented, one may prefer more audio options but the sound itself is very clear, and the camera work and picture quality are excellent.
Musically, there was always a sense of magic and enthusiasm. Queen of the Night's arias were lightening fast and so exciting to hear, the Overture was brisk and not too broad, the duet between Pamina and Papagaeno was reflective and Sarastro's arias were full of nobility. The orchestra play Mozart's music brilliantly, and Franz Welser-Most's conducting is wonderfully acute.
Great singing too, especially from Matti Salminen and Elena Mosuc. Kurt Moll is still my favourite Sarastro, with Martti Talvela and Hans Sotin not close behind, but Salminen is one of the more impressive "recent" Sarastros, noble and firm dramatically while not too stern, and while his top is volcanic, his basso notes in In Diesen Heil'Gen Hallen are solid as is his musicality and legato. There may be Queen of the Nights with "better" agility than Mosuc such as Damrau, but she still cuts a very chilling presence on stage especially during Der Halle Rosche, and there is evidence of flexible colouratura and not much of the "just sing loud" approach.
Piotr Beczala is a promising Tamino. His beautiful, nuanced singing particularly in Dies Bildnis Ist Bezaubend Schon, affecting chemistry with Hartelius and handsome attire and stage presence more than make up for some moments of stiff acting. Malin Hartelius is a very moving Pamina, I still think her best Mozart role is Konstanze in Die Entfuhrung Aus Dem Serail, but Hartelius has so much beauty in her singing and her stage presence is natural.
Anton Scharinger is a very entertaining Papagaeno, hearty, funny yet very charming. Some might be turned off by his drunk act during Ein Madchen Oder Weibchen, but I admit that I found it kind of fun. Papagaena is witty and sweet, and her sense of comedy is a joy. The Three Boys are suitably angelic, Monostatos is good and characterful if nothing mind-blowing and The Three Ladies despite their pretty awful costumes are very imposing and blend wonderfully. Overall, worthwhile and very well sung, just not one of the best I've seen. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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