Perhaps not my favourite Die Zauberflote, the Gedda/Mathis and Keenlyside/Damrau performances and Bergman's film are my top favourites. However, the production turned out to be a real treat. My only criticism is that the production is perhaps too heavy on Colonianism, for example the contrasts between light and dark and lack of teaching without destruction, which may feel like too much for an opera already with symbolism of lots of hidden meaning.
Not only was it incredibly beautiful to look at in the costumes and settings, but a lot of it was very clever as well with the drawings projected around the characters. The most effective were the ones with the Three Ladies forming a dragon in the opening scene, when Tamino charms a rhinoceros and geometric forms and mathematical diagrams to show the intellects of Sarastro and the priests. The staging does much in defining the characters and their situations and in setting the mood. Again it's the most effective in Monostatos and Papagaeno's scene where the images wittily do something different to how the characters interact, the fire and water duet where Tamino and Pamina are engulfed in flames and water and when Papagaeno contemplates suicide a noose and scaffold can be seen.
On a musical front, it is outstanding as well. The orchestra play buoyantly in the Overture, with style in Der Halle Roche, the Papagaeno-Papagaena duet and in Papagaeno's introduction aria, with dignity in Sarastro's two arias and with pathos in Ach Ich Fuhls, Papagaeno and Pamina's duet and Die Bildnis Ist Bezauband Schon. The chorus are robust in their first chorus and poignant in the Isis Und Osiris chorale. This is all helped by the conducting, which not only is graceful and flexible but allows his singers to breathe and does so with them. The singing is generally superb, Saimir Pirgu is a tad stolid as Tamino but is handsome and sings with a lot of warmth.
Genia Kuhmeier's Pamina is radiant, and her rendition of Ach Ich Fuhls is very poignantly sung and acted. Gunther Groissbock as Sarastro is noble and firm, with a dark voice that does justice to the long legato lines. The Queen of the Night of Albina Shagimuratova occasionally has pitch lapses in middle voice but the entire interpretation is vocally dazzling and dramatically thrilling. Alex Exposito is not as funny as other Papagaenos but is still instantly charming and sincere, while Alish Tynan is well-sung and appealingly perky. The Three Ladies are imperiously chilling, and while people will prefer the Three boys to be boys rather than women the performances are still beautifully blended and positively charm.
Overall, a very, very good production. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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