The Metropolitan Opera HD Live: Season 1, Episode 1

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

TV Episode  |  Music
8.5
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Ratings: 8.5/10 from 36 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 NBC Television Opera Theatre: The Magic Flute (1956) 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
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Definitely worth watching
2 February 2012 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I have always loved Mozart and Die Zauberflote(The Magic Flute), and while not my first choice I did enjoy this production. For me the outstanding productions are the 2003 Covent Garden production, the Bergman film, the 1982 Salzberg performance and the 1978 Glyndebourne production. Very good are the 1983 Munich performance and the 1991 Met production. This one is my least favourite perhaps but I still recommend it.

The production look absolutely spectacular visually. The sets have so much colour to them, and the costumes likewise, Queen of the Night's is a knockout and Papagaeno's jumpsuit perfectly shows off his athleticism. Of the staging, the most effective were the wild animals, they're fabulous to look at and move effortlessly on stage. The giant prehistoric bird looks imposing as well. High Definition is fantastic as always, but the sound in places could've done with more crispness.

Taymor also addresses the problems about the staging, especially with the characterisation of Monostatos and making Sarastro an employer of equal opportunities. Die Zauberflote is by far the most difficult of Mozart's operas to stage, and Taymor did very well with the ideas put forward and grabbed my interest.

Musically, it is better than you would expect. The music, even with the cuts(I was disappointed at the lack of any Papagaeno-Pamina duet or the scene between the Three Boys and Pamina) is of course magnificent, the orchestra play with a beautiful sound, the chorus are more balanced than they were in the 1991 production and James Levine does show some understanding of Mozart's style, the reading is brisk and not as broad or as plodding as it could have been.

English translation was better than anticipated, I personally do find the opera better in German, but apart from the odd part that sounds over-simplified such as Papagaeno's very first line of his introductory aria the translation is quite good. The performances are generally of a high standard. The standouts were Rene Pape, whose Sarastro is noble and firm and he has one of the more beautiful voices of anybody singing this role in my opinion and especially Nathan Gunn who puts so much energy and charm into Papagaeno.

I also thoroughly enjoyed Erika Miklosa as Queen of the Night. She isn't the most exciting singer I've heard in the role, but she does have a good stage presence exuding menace and threat and she is a miracle vocally coping very well with the difficult colouratura. Jennifer Aylmer is a witty Papagaena and Greg Federly is a fun Monostatos, what Tamor did with the character was refreshing in a sense and the first meeting between him and Papagaeno is a comic highlight. The Three Ladies are eluded by their masks, which I agree are rather Disney-esque, but they are well blended and commanding regardless.

Not quite as impressive is Ying Huang in the role of Pamina. She is suitably moving and delectable, is alluring on stage and sings beautifully. I do think however the role could've done with more radiance and innocence, though to be fair some of her best music is cut so those qualities without them wasn't perhaps so feasible. Matthew Polanzani has a good voice as Tamino, but like others in the role he is stiff, for me the best Tamino ever is Fritz Wunderlich. The Three Boys are sadly no better, they are sweet enough but their thin and out of tune singing with laboured high notes was painful on the ear.

Overall, a good production, but not great. 7/10 Bethany Cox


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