The Metropolitan Opera HD Live: Season 1, Episode 1

Mozart's The Magic Flute (24 Jan. 2007)

TV Episode  -  Music
8.4
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Ratings: 8.4/10 from 35 users  
Reviews: 4 user

Prince Tamino and Papageno are sent by the Queen of Night to save her daughter Pamina from the clutches of the evil lord Sarastro.

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(libretto: Englsh translation)
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Title: Mozart's The Magic Flute (24 Jan 2007)

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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Matthew Polenzani ...
Ying Huang ...
Pamina, the Princess in distress
René Pape ...
Nathan Gunn ...
Erika Miklósa ...
Wendy Bryn Harmer ...
Kate Lindsey ...
Tamara Mumford ...
Third Lady
Stephen Paynter ...
First Slave
Kenneth Floyd ...
Second Slave
Gregory Cross ...
Third Slave
Greg Fedderly ...
Bennett Kosma ...
First Spirit
Jesse Burnsode Murray ...
Second Spirit
Jesse Burnside Murray ...
Second Spirit
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Storyline

In Act 1, Tamino is sent on a mission by the Queen of the Night to rescue her daughter from the evil lord Sarastro. He is accompanied by the friendly bird-catcher, Papageno. But Tamino will soon discover that what he has been told was false, and if he really wishes to win Pamina's hand, he himself will have to undergo his own personal transformation. Mozart turns the "rescue opera" formulas inside out - as he often did with other musical forms - and by the end of Act 1, we realize that everything we have been led to believe up to this point is untrue. Act 2 sets matters right. The opera is one of Mozart's last creations (he died two months after the premiere), but considering that he was only 35 at the time, he was a young man and still developing new styles; The Magic Flute hints at what "might have been" had he lived a longer life. Written by dnitzer

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24 January 2007 (USA)  »

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16:9 HD
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Connections

Version of The Magic Flute (1975) See more »

Soundtracks

Die Zauberflöte
(Singspiel in 2 acts)
Composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder
New English text by J.D. McClatchy
Conducted by James Levine
Performed by Michael Parloff, flute solo
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User Reviews

Brisk and efficient
15 September 2011 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

This production dates from 2006; it is the second film of the Magic Flute for which James Levine is the conductor. If I much prefer the first version he conducted, from 1991, that's not to say that I don't find some pleasures in the new one. Julie Taymor won two Tony Awards for her design of The Lion King on Broadway, and this Magic Flute is visually splendid: The Queen of the Night's costume alone is a knock-out, with those wonderful butterfly wings, and Papageno wears a great green jumpsuit that suits his athletic bearing very well. But sets and costumes can't be everything in an opera film, we must judge the singers too. Matthew Polenzani has a fine lyric tenor and makes the boring character of Tamino somewhat appealing, Nathan Gunn in his jumpsuit has an irresistible charm and agility on stage (I see that he was voted one of the 100 sexiest men by People; they weren't wrong). Rene Pape seems a little ill-at-ease as Sarastro--he would probably like to sing in German. Erika Miklosa sings the Queen well, and seems not to be troubled by the coloratura.

The real problem for me is the rushed nature of the performance, with all the cuts to the music. It clocks in at 112 minutes, whereas Levine 1991 is 169 minutes. So we are missing almost a solid hour of music. There is a magical moment when Tamino meets the Speaker near the end of Act One; Bergman uses it in the puppet theatre scene in The Hour of the Wolf. Tamino asks "when will the darkness be cast aside... when shall my eyes see light?" The chorus answers, "soon, youth, or never". It's very slow, very dramatic and effective: one of Mozart's most gorgeous moments. It seems to pass unnoticed in this performance--Polenzani even seems a little befuddled by the haste of it all. This Magic Flute is for people who have never seen an opera, and who don't want too many moments that will stop them from texting.


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