« »

Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus: Die Zauberflöte DVD Opus Arte/ROH 2003

Mozart: Die Zauberflöte (DVD)


Composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor Sir Colin Davis
Director David McVicar
Pamina: Dorothea Röschmann
Queen of the Night: Diana Damrau
Tamino: Will Hartmann
Sarastro: Franz-Josef Selig
Papageno: Simon Keenlyside
Papagena: Ailish Tynan
Speaker: Thomas Allen
Chorus and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House
Label BBC/ Opus Arte
Code OA0885D
Released September 1, 2003.
Recorded at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, 27 January 2003
Running time 165 minutes (plus 20 minutes of supplementary material including an interview with Colin Davis)
Edition details Region 0, PAL, Widescreen
Technical details Picture format 16:9; Sound Dolby Digital 2.0/Dolby Digital 5.1

See also: Mozart: The Magic Flute, CD, Chandos CHAN3121, 2005

For more details of this performance see: Die Zauberflöte, Covent Garden 2003 and Die Zauberflöte, Covent Garden 2005

What the critics say

Review for Opera Japonica by Marco Schmid, 30 September 2003

”The singing ranged from Hartmann’s hard-pressed Tamino and Selig’s bland Sarastro to the excellent work of Diana Damrau, Dorothea Röschmann and Simon Keenlyside… Each of these three provides superb diction and complete involvement with the character.”

Keenlyside’s Papageno is delightful while his voice is gorgeous throughout the range.

“I highly recommend this DVD and enjoyed it tremendously even though the Tamino was under par. The other singers more than made up for that as did the wonderful production.”

Alan Blyth for Gramophone, November 2003

McVicar’s new production provides food for much thought and more musical pleasure

This somewhat controversial staging opened earlier this year to a mixed reception. It treats the ever-elusive work very seriously indeed, adopting ideas from many different sources – the Age of Enlightenment, scientific experimentation, pantomime, and the settings of early productions of the work, plus hints of more modern philosophical ideas. Within predominantly dark-hued sets, these conceits work well for the more serious aspects of the equivocal story, but the lighter, fairy-tale portions of the score suffer a little in consequence. For those and for an altogether more natural, easy-going approach on a smaller scale, you should consider as a supplement the enchanting Ludwigsburg staging listed above.

McVicar’s delving approach demands and gets a greater portion of the dialogue than is usually included these days. This adds meaning to many non-musical scenes, most notably the musings of Sarastro and his fellows at the beginning of Act 2. This speech gains greatly from the confidence and character with which it is spoken and speaks volumes about the careful rehearsal of the whole production. By the same token, it is odd to find several familiar phrases excluded.

The singers, all very much at home in their roles, seem to me to have been seriously underrated after the first night. Certainly Keenlyside received his due for his oddball, rather sad Papageno, yet one who is paradoxically lovable for his little-man-lost demeanour and for his warm, faultless singing. Röschmann’s Pamina has vocal beauty, clearly articulated diction and the kind of complete conviction that used to mark Lucia Popp in this role. Hardly less effective, one or two hard notes at the top apart, is Hartmann’s heartfelt and expressive Tamino.

Selig makes as much of Sarastro’s arias and his all-important dialogue as any in my experience. Add to that Allen’s exquisite cameo of a Speaker, a spitfire, convincing Queen of Night from Damrau (current owner of the part around the houses), three sparky Ladies (though they are unflatteringly garbed), Thompson’s preposterous Monostatos, and one is left lamenting only the weakly sung and horribly vulgar Papagena.

Sir Colin Davis presides at his most avuncular. Many, used to fast-and-furious readings, found him dilatory. For me, he lives every moment of the score and conveys all its profound humanity. Praise is also due to Sue Judd’s video direction and for the excellent sound.

Tom Moran for Opera News

A comparison with a video of a Zurich production from 2000, directed by Jonathan Miller and conducted by Franz Welser-Möst.

Not altogether complimentary.

Max Loppert, BBC Music Magazine

This is Covent Garden’s latest Magic Flute production, filmed in January. It’s a mixed bag, hard to recommend as a total Flute experience over other DVDs already available. For one component part, though, it’s a must-have. Simon Keenlyside’s Papageno offers none of the vaudeville high jinks traditionally associated with the role: he brings to its comedy a Pierrot lunaire-like poetry, precisely achieved down to the smallest detail. This Papageno arouses both delight and poignant emotions, and his singing is wonderfully strong and true in style.

The illumination Keenlyside sheds on David McVicar’s production at every appearance is much needed. It’s otherwise a sepia-grey affair: not because it’s deprived of insights (the opera’s relationship with various contemporary philosophical movements is interestingly suggested) or striking stage pictures, but because it’s sorely lacking in the fun, colour, spectacle and sense of the wondrous that should leaven the seriousness. A youthfully high-spirited conductor might have counteracted the impression; in this latest of his many London Flute readings – it pains me to say this – Colin Davis compounds it, particularly in Act I, with his sedate tempi and total lack of Mozartian rhythmic spring.

In compensation, much good singing is on offer – good, too, that so many Germans are in principal roles, making much of Schikaneder’s libretto (it’s a pity the spoken dialogue was so much abridged). Diana Damrau’s sharply intelligent Queen of the Night, Dorothea Röschmann’s Pamina both fresh and ripe, Franz-Josef Selig’s powerful, unaffected Sarastro and Will Hartmann’s sturdy, ardent Tamino (underpraised by the London press) give much pleasure, as do Ladies, Priests and Thomas Allen’s marvellous Speaker cameo. Not, however, a Zauberflöte to make the spirits soar – except when Keenlyside is about.

Richard Fawkes, Opera Now magazine, November/December 2003

David McVicker’s luminous 2003 Covent Garden production. Set in an 18th-century otherworld which Tamino enters through a doorway, looking lost, it is full of detail, from the relationship established between the First Priest and Papageno to the furnishings of the Speaker’s study. There are echoes of Bergman’s film, there are striking images. The Queen of the Night appears against a brilliant star and moon back-drop, the sun dominates Sarastro’s temple. Add Paule Constable’s subtle lighting and the result is a visual feast. Performances are equally impressive. Diana Damrau tosses off the Queen’s arias as easily as getting on a bus, Simon Keenleyside [sic] gives a masterful, deeply felt portrayal as Papageno, and Dorothea Röschmann is as good a Pamina as you will hear. Thomas Allen, himself a distinguished Papageno, brings dignity to the role of Speaker, while Colin Davis brings all his experience to the pit. Sue Judd’s camera direction is excellent, making this a must-have video.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment