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The Magic Flute's all pervading themes of love and betrayal, reward and retribution, coupled with the encompassing power of Mozart's brilliant score have given rise to a motion picture set during Mozart's 250th birthday celebration year. Young virtuoso singer Tom is cast against his better judgment in the lead role of Tamino in the staging of The Magic Flute in Salzburg. Cast opposite Tom as Pamina, is a mysterious diva from Eastern Europe - a mysterious diva with whom Tom quickly falls in love. Nothing is as it seems and we soon learn that Tom's mysterious love interest is being held against her will in a lavish palace. Famed musicologist Dr. Richard Nagel has been forced to train her in The Magic Flute's arias. Sensing the danger that the diva is in, Dr. Nagel knows he must help her. He must shape her into the most mesmerizing Pamina Salzburg has ever heard. But the diva disappears, jeopardizing the premiere of the production and Tom's world careens out of control. He enters a world... Written by
Interesting reencounter with a cherished fairytale
For us lovers of Mozart and the Magic Flute, a new version is always welcomed with great interest. We lately had Kenneth Branagh's bizarre British production in 2006 with new English libretto (text) by Stephen Fry. Most connoisseurs agree that nothing can match Ingmar Bergman's Swedish version of 1974, which fortunately still is available on DVD with the good music score in stereo and English subtitles. Most CD recordings use the original German language.
As for this new version, it pretends to be a 'North American' effort to show Salzburg a variant of the opera. Warren Christie (33) is a sympathetic actor and well suited as prince Tamino and the narrator of the story. As stated in the film, most 'princes' in other stagings are often at least 45 years old and 200 pounds heavy. (Bergman's prince was 28 and handsome. Papageno, sung by a funny Hakan Hagegard (then 29) has never been made better.) The main suspense with a new version is whether one likes the new performers and can believe in them. The next element of suspense is what has been changed or cut. The beginning here suffers because Tamino never gets to sing his well-known opening aria, and the first aria of the Queen of the Night has been cut to pieces with all the best and famous parts left out. Besides, she looks like a drag-queen. Pamina is supposed to be Russian here, but was not worth the diplomatic complications according to my taste. Monostatos is not black, for a change.
As for the subplots, they seem to wander off too much towards the end in passages with music alien to both the opera and Mozart, but that is also a matter of taste.¨ My overall impression is that the music editing should have been handed over to a person with more reverence for Mozart's score and understanding of music in general. The result here consists of haphazard cuts that sometimes don't even belong together, and with the best parts left out.
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