Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Mozart - Die Zauberflote / Lott Luxon Goeke Sandoz Conquet Fryatt Haitink Glyndebourne Opera|
Actors: Leo Goeke, Felicity Lott, Benjamin Luxon, Elisabeth Conquet, May Sandoz
Director: Dave Heather
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Musicals & Performing Arts
Glyndebourne?s 1978 production of Zauberflöte received as much critical acclaim for its imaginative sets by David Hockney as for the operatic performance itself. Like the set, John Cox's production of this opera emphasized... more »
Musically and Visually Very Satisfying 'Magic Flute'
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 08/27/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've seen three of the four currently available DVDs of 'Magic Flute' (not including the one from Ludwigsburg), they all are terrific, and they differ from each other enough that if you are a real Magic Flute enthusiast you might even want to have all three. Frankly, I'm most impressed with the one from Covent Garden (with the best Papageno [Simon Keenlyside]) I've ever seen. But this one from Glyndebourne (1978) comes close. First of all, it has sets by David Hockney; these were the first Hockney sets after his extraordinarily successful 'The Rake's Progress' sets inspired by Hogarth's etchings. The 'Flute' sets are hard to describe because they borrow from all sorts of artistic periods and styles. There are Baroque cloud-mobiles (for the Three Boys), Picasso-esque cartoons, and Egyptian influences all over the place. (Indeed, the opera seems to be set in Egypt.) The costumes seem to be primarily Greek or Roman togas. Whatever the influences, the sets and costumes are always eye-catching. The stage production is by John Cox and is, for the most part, fairly conservative (and for that reason, not distracting or off-putting). But it is the musical values that make this a wonderful production.
Most impressive is the young Felicity Lott as Pamina. Her portrayal is a triumph from start to finish. I don't know that I've ever heard a lovelier 'Ach, ich fühl's.' Her Tamino is the American tenor, Leo Goeke, who looks the part of a young lover, sings with fervor and musicianly control, although his voice is not a traditionally beautiful one. Benjamin Luxon is a wonderful Papageno (dressed in the traditional bird-catcher costume). The voice is in fine estate and although not a great actor (as Keenlyside is), this is a musically very appealing portrayal. His Papagena is a beautiful woman, Elizabeth Couquet, who makes the most of the two sides of her character. Thomas Thomaschke is a rich-voiced (and young--that's slightly jarring) Sarastro, but has some control problems. May Sandoz has somewhat smudgy coloratura in her two arias and is the weakest principal here; she is certainly outdone by the amazing Diana Damrau, a true dramatic coloratura, in the Covent Garden production. Monostatos (John Fryatt) chews the scenery, a perfectly acceptable way of playing the character; his comprimario tenor is adequate to the rôle. Willard White brings his rich basso to the minor rôle of The Speaker. Much praise must be given to the Three Ladies (Teresa Cahill, Patricia Parker, and Fiona Kimm), the Three Boys (Kate Flowers, Lindsay John, and Elizabeth Stokes), as well as the Priests and Armed Men; each group presents a really outstanding ensemble sound.
The musical direction is by the always reliable Bernard Haitink and the Glyndebourne's London Philharmonic. Haitink, some think, is better suited to the 19th century literature, but I find his Mozart to be outstanding without being idiosyncratic; I must admit, though, that I'd give Colin Davis the edge in the Covent Garden DVD.
If you already have one of the other two DVDs alluded to (Levine/Met, C. Davis/ROH) you don't NEED this one, but if you truly love this opera you will want it anyhow. Felicity Lott, in particular, needs to be seen and heard.