I think this DVD is perfect for any child introducing themselves to opera and for opera enthusiasts in general. I was certainly enthralled, and it seemed that the children responded very optimistically to the performance. As a performance it is abridged with the Queen of the Night's first aria and a lot of the more masonic-sounding music cut, and while I understand why they were included for me the English subtitles took away from the performance's spontaneous feel.
However, it is beautifully filmed and recorded, and the costumes and settings are beautifully fashioned. Die Zauberflote was always the most challenging of Mozart's operas to stage, but this performance does a great job with the staging. The music is magnificent, and is performed with an understanding of the style and the conducting from Levine is sympathetic and not too broad as I found in the 1991 Met production.
The performances are generally great. Peter Schreier sings beautifully if too stiff in places, and Ileana Cotrubas is a moving Pamina. Kurt Rydll doesn't quite erase memories of Moll or Talvela but his Sarastro is noble and firm as he should be. The three ladies are excellent in presence and in blending, with Edda Mosser as the first lady especially good.
Faring best are Zdzislawa Donat as a very imperiously chilling Queen of the Night, Der Halle Roche is an absolute triumph, and Christian Boesch who makes for a very charming and funny Papagaeno. Speaking of Boesch, he explains in narrative form the plot of the opera, the notion of opera and why it is sung and spoken. Not only is this done to the point and with enthusiasm, Boesch brings a grace and humour to it too.
Overall, very interesting and definitely worth looking out for. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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