A VERY MOVING MAGIC FLUTE
Jesse Knight | woburn ma usa | 01/08/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you are looking for a magic show and traditional scenery suitable for children, pass this up and head for the Bergman film on DVD. On the other hand, if you want an uncluttered staging with superb singing and character development, this Zurich production will be hard to beat. No single production can fully define this complex and confusing opera.
Opera has always been a place to express subversive ideas as it wraps them in a fantasy that tends to fool the censors, at least temporarily.
Just below the fantasy is a blatantly racist anti feminist plot that has prevented many from getting to the third level where Pamina, a princess is subjected to Masonic testing and found to be altruistic, truthful, willing to die for her prince(Tamino), and ultimately wise. Pamina to some extent leads Tamino though the final two Masonic tests of fire and water. The "noble couple" are welcomed into the temple. Mozart has pulled a fast one here that has given rise to many books that speculate on Mozart's views on women's rights. He has made the suggestion that some women are capable of becoming leaders, a very dangerous proposal for his time. None of Mozart's prior female characters were pure enough in spirit to meet the the Masonic requirments. In "ordaining" Pamina He did not want to suggest that the Masonic lodge needed a major upheaval, just someone who would take some rough edges off the male only leadership. Someone who could demonstrate,without revenge and at her own peril, the harm that men's games can inflict on women.
Malin Hartelius does not bring any sexy moves from her Melanto,Blonde,Fatime,Sophe,Eurilla or Annchen, into her Pamina and this will dismay some people. Hartelius brings just a hint of Gretel to the role near the beginning, which is delightful and proper. Yet she misses nothing in her interpretation of Pamina; fully expressing Pamina's few happy moments as a child with Papagano. At the other end of the emotional spectrum she is just as convincing in her reactions to Monostatos, her mother's betrayal, and Tamino's silence. Her spiritual death and resurrection is deeply moving. Finally she emerges as a mature and wise adult. All this is accomplished without vocal excess or over acting. Hartelius has a beautiful voice combined with an acting style that is very natural. That she can convey so much via the small screen is amazing. Singers today are learning how to sing to an audience and camera at the same time. The era of expressive singing is not over, as some would have us believe.
I purchased a second DVD for my sister. She has commented on how supportive Welser-Moest is of the singers. She also stated that Anton Scharinger is the best Papageno she has ever heard. Two thumbs up.
The remaining cast is excellent, leaving me with two minor complaints. First is a topless serpent bearer. Second, would it have been that hard to proofread the English subtitles for mangled lines?
Some audiophiles may be put off by the lack of sound options. Only Dolby Digital 2.0 is provided. The lack of a LPCM mode free of perceptually encoded sound is not a problem as there are no artifacts audible on my very revealing AKG K240 studio monitor headphones. Furthermore the sound is extremely clean, warm and detailed."
Erico Mangaravite | Vitoria, ES Brazil | 10/01/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A memorable performance. Franz Welser-Möst conducts in a superb way, using fast tempi, in a "Gardinerian" manner (but with no any lack of humour). His orchestra is very good, also his choir.
Salminen makes a very human and wise Sarastro, with perfect low notes; Mosuc is quite good, not troubled by the hard task of singing coloratura in so fast speeds (Damrau and Miklosa have more precise "agilità" and "sovracuti", but Mosuc don't disappoints the viewer). Beczala is superb: a pure, innocent Tamino, enthusiastic in the role. I can say the same thing about Hartelius' Pamina.
Scharinger is probably the best Papageno in video, although he sings the last part of "Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen" completely drunk... the effect is very fun. Comprimarii are capable.
The set is a library, with little changes all over the opera. Not a traditional set, but is very effective. Probably, Miller's intention is an association between "Die Zauberflöte", Freemasonry and the Enlightenment."