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Mozart - Die Zauberflote (Muti, Khmeier, Damrau) [DVD] [2006]

Diana Damrau , Genia Kuhmeier , Pierre Audi , Brian Large    Exempt   DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: £16.84 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product details

  • Actors: Diana Damrau, Genia Kuhmeier, Paul Groves, Rene Pape, Christian Gerhaher
  • Directors: Pierre Audi, Brian Large
  • Format: AC-3, Box set, Classical, Colour, Dolby, DVD-Video, PAL
  • Language: German
  • Subtitles: English
  • Dubbed: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: Decca
  • DVD Release Date: 22 Jan 2007
  • Run Time: 176 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000ICL3Q0
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 98,708 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

NOTICE: Polish Release, cover may contain Polish text/markings. The disk DOES NOT have English audio and subtitles.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By Loge
This Magic Flute (part of the M22 project) is charming and delightful, a sheer joy. It achieves just the right balance between the fairytale and spiritual elements of the singspiel and is brimming with inventiveness. The bright pop-up-book colours and toyshop imagery perfectly represent the pantomime aspect of this "magic opera" which meshes well with the altogether more serious business of Sarastro's realm of Enlightenment wisdom. I love the burlesque touches which occur throughout and the comic scenes around Papageno which make this such a happy and constantly droll performance.

The staging is visually striking. I love the day-glo skies and the moving mountains which glide across the stage, cleverly creating different acting areas. And the Three Ladies got up as Tyrolean hill walkers. Indeed almost all the new images which appear as the story unfolds bring a smile to the lips and create new pleasure in seeing this imaginative and clever stage-craft work its magic.

I don't understand the use of `primitive' quasi-African statues. The accompanying booklet suggests we are in a world of venerable ideas "with their roots thousands of years in the past" as much as the world of 18th century Enlightenment. It also suggests that much of the imagery is supposed to be childlike. I could imagine a child painting something like these messy totems, and they don't look particularly out of place in this production.

The cast is exceptionally strong. Paul Groves is a suitably heroic, noble and sympathetic Tamino; particularly strong in his more impassioned `romantic' moments. Genia Kühmeier is a gorgeous Pamina, everything she sings sublime. When she's singing it's difficult to focus anywhere else.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
By David
Verified Purchase
Though there are many I prefer ... Covent Carden perhaps the first closely followed by the August Everding and Sweedish film versions, this has a charm in its outlandish sets and inovative differences.

The three boys enter by plane and Papageno (who in my opinion is the weakest in the cast) has a superb little car accompanied by very strange birds. The rest of the cast is good. The Queen of the Night is of course perfection as I have stated in other reviews. Her second aria in this production is very differently staged but equally well performed. She is truly magnificent and the purchase of this disc at a bargain price is worth it alone for just this aria. (It is only for her part in this version that I have to give 4*)

My equally favourite part in the opera is when the three boys persuade Parmina not to kill herself for me in this version it just fails to work especially compared with the delightful snow balling sequence of the Swedish film and the wonderful Wind in the Willows setting of the August Everding setting.

It is 'way out' and it really does work but if you only want one DVD of Magic Flute don't buy this one.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Amazon Customer TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Mozart 22 - Die Zauberflote [2007]

The pop-up children's story book staging is so overwhelming it overshadows the more serious (agreed there is a conflict in this opera) aspects of the later acts.

Also the treatment of everybody's favourite "Papageno/Papagena" duet splitting the first part of the action in front of the curtain and then switching to the stage is a serious misjudgement ( undoubtedly done to set up flying birds) which seem irrelevant as everyone's attention should be on the singers.

Highly recommended if you like your "Zauberflote" as pantomime.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Magic Flute 28 Feb 2011
I saw a documentary recording the production of this opera.
I was impressed by the set design. No longer the 18th century costumes, but a design that matched the magical themes of the drama. My wife, Hazel, had been active in opera productions, and was an ardent fan of Mozart; so I was familiar with the music and the plot. But the images of this production were unusual, unconventional,and modern. A joy to behold.
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Musically Splendid 2006 Vienna FLUTE 15 Jan 2007
By Todd Kay - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
This FLUTE, super-complete in its inclusion of spoken dialogue (2 DVDs, 176 minutes), features a staging by Pierre Audi that is apt to divide viewers. It resembles a children's television show (and may, therefore, have some appeal as family viewing), with its searingly bright colors, playground-like sets heavy on geometric designs, and all manner of wild costumes and props, though the stage is never truly cluttered. Papageno makes his first appearance in a toy car, attended by playful supernumeraries in yellow bird costumes; they resemble something you might see strutting around at the opening of a chicken fast-food restaurant. The three boys travel overhead not in the usual hot-air balloon but in something like a World War I fighter plane. There are some arresting images (such as Sarastro's followers, in mime-like make-up, solemnly marching onto the darkened stage carrying glow sticks) amidst much silliness, and real fire and water are used in the ritual scenes. Whether the production succeeds may depend on whether one comes down on the side of "fanciful" or "garish."

About the musical portion, I find very little to fault, and would have no problem placing this in the very front rank on DVD (the brilliant cinema of the Bergman film should be considered as just that -- a cinematic achievement, not a typical opera DVD). It even holds its own against the best on records. None of the singing is less than acceptable, and most of it is superb. Four singers merit individual mention. Genia Kuhmeier follows on the heels of Dorothea Roeschmann (the heroine of Abbado's recent CD recording) as another stunning modern Pamina, a winsome presence who achieves new heavenly things every time she opens her mouth; she even plays well in close-up. Diana Damrau is a forceful Queen of the Night who scores highly for vocal agility and is genuinely fearsome as she bullies her daughter in the second aria. Christian Gerhaher, as Papageno, must (like all of the male cast members) overcome unfortunate hair extensions; he succeeds with his fine voice and precise musicianship, and some comedic flair. I continue to feel that the role of Sarastro lies a bit low for Rene Pape's maximum comfort; he makes every note, but doesn't "own" the deepest ones the way a Kurt Moll does. Nevertheless, his is a classy, attractive piece of singing, and he has a fine physical presence -- he knows how to get maximum mileage just from standing erect with a dignified mien, slowly walking across the stage, and doing the other kingly things that operatic basses must do.

Conductor Riccardo Muti presides over a brilliant Viennese ensemble, and his reading is elegant in its lines, rich and healthy in its sonority, and traditional to a fault (unlike his long-time rival Abbado, he has not been influenced by the rise of historically-informed performance practices in music of this vintage). He does not seem to see the FLUTE as a conductor's opera to the degree that he does, say, DON GIOVANNI, where one is more conscious throughout of his ordering hand and the personality he imposes. Here, he generally is content to set mainstream tempi and elicit smooth, blended, well-judged orchestral playing that "lights" what the singers are doing more than it draws attention to the pit. In other words, for much of the performance (a gorgeous overture and a few brightly blazing choral and scene-ending climaxes aside), this often-fiery conductor is in a decidedly supportive, even self-effacing mode. As a reading of this type, it is done on a high level. A very small orchestral detail that begs for an approving mention: Papageno's bells have rarely sounded as enchanting as they do here.

The conductor and some of the singers discuss the opera (in English, Italian or German, with subtitles, depending on the speaker's country of origin) in a mini-documentary, which also gives us tantalizing glimpses of a piano rehearsal. One only wishes this ran longer.

If Decca's entire "Salzburg 22" series of Mozart operas approaches the standard set by this one, then it will be a most prestigious collection. Highly recommended.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Full of joy 6 Sep 2007
By Bob Epstein - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
This joyous, delightful performance jumps to the top of the list of Zauberflotes I have seen on DVD, six in total. The brilliant Crayola-bright staging of Pierre Audi and set design of Karel Appel seem to have divided viewers, but I found them insightful, touching and thoroughly winning. This is simply a joy to watch and listen to. Yet the seriousness and profundity are not lacking. It is not only delightful but eloquent.

The voices and characterizations are top-notch and the Vienna Philharmonic sounds golden under a sensitive Riccardo Muti. There are no weak links in the casting, from a brilliant, demonic Diana Damrau as Queen of the Night to a touching Tamino (Paul Groves), sweet Papageno (Christian Gerhaher) and eloquent Pamina (Genia Kuhmeier). Audi gets the most out of his actor singers.

Of the remaining five Zauberflotes I have seen, here are some summaries, in order of my preference. (I have not seen the Sir Colin Davis, Covent Garden DVD nor the Wolfgang Sawallish, Bavrian State Opera DVD - other major video contenders).

4.5 stars: Arnold Ostman and the Drottningholm Court Orchestra. A real winner, with tremendous ensemble, verve and spirit, marred only by a vocally poor Queen of the Night (Birgit Louise Frandsen). These lesser-known singers bring off the drama and the fun, with interaction that makes the whole greater than the sum of its parts.

4 stars: James Levine and the Metropolitan Opera. The stars of this winning performance are the charming, delightful sets of David Hockney and the beguiling Manfred Hemm as Papageno. Some of the acting is a bit stiff (Francisco Araiza as Tamino, admittedly a rather priggish character anyway), and Kathleen Battle as Pamina. Levine, disparaged by some reviewers here, I find a fine Mozartean here, full of zest.

3 stars: Wolfgang Gonnenwein and the Ludwigsburger Festival. A straightforward, minimalist Zauberflote that has its draws, a fine Tamino (Deon van der Welt) and fetching Pamina (lrik Sonntag), good brisk conducting by Gonnenwein and an inviting elemental stage design. Some of the costume designs - a sleeveless Papageno, the three boys and the three ladies - don't come off as well as they should, and the Queen of the Night (Andrea Frei) is only fair.

2 stars: Bernard Haitink and the Glyndebourne Festival. An earlier David Hockney production, similar to the Met's, but without the spirt of that performance, marred by pedestrian conducting by Haitink and not enough involvement from a generally overmatched cast.

1 star: Franz Welser-Most and the Zurich Opera. A distressing and dull production mars good conducting and singing. Far too somber, lacking fun. There are both gravitas and lightness in Zauberflote, and this performance overemphasizes the former at the expense of the latter.
21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Singing trumps a ponderous production 10 Mar 2007
By Niel Rishoi - Published on Amazon.com
This DVD release of the Salzburg production doesn't coalesce. The stage

design by Karel Appel and costumes by Jorge Jara is a

jumbleshop between Pee Wee Herman's Playhouse and a

deranged version of Romper Room. Too-cute oversized toys

mixed with ugly jungle-like symbols. Unlike in the MET's Taymor's

production, the touches in the Salzburg staging seemed

ponderous, forced and gimmicky. Sarastro is made to look

like a ghoul. The Queen of the Night, in her first costume,

looks like she'd been hosed down with Lime-Jello

Marshmallow Surprise. Tamino looks like a WW II refugee;

Pamina looks better. Papageno in dreadlocks. Some weird

staging concepts: At the end of Act One Papageno and

Monostatos are tied up in these sacks, and hooked onto

these huge fish hooks which are lowered down onto the

stage, and away they go, they are hoisted up. Nothing

coalesces as a unity in this production, and all the

opera's charm, fatally, has been zapped away: a cynical,

un-Mozartian view. Get the Ustinov DVD to realize the opera's true magic.

A pity too: this is one of Riccardo Muti's greatest

successes as a conductor. He is relaxed, and, eliciting

inspiration from his orchestra, the score sounds simply

gorgeous. Textures are crystal clear, and there is a

beguiling warmth in all his work - what a relief to see

this side of him. Pape is much as on the MET telecast, his

character once again hampered by an oxyMORONIC concept.

Vocally, Pape sounds better at the MET; Salzburg finds him

reaching the lowest notes with a shortage of ideal

sonority. Genia Kühmeier is a vocally and physically

beautiful Pamina, with a tone that really carries. Paul

Groves' Tamino is outstanding: his timbre is fuller and

richer than most Taminos, and he seems like a true heroic

prince. In fact, the lovers are stronger here than the

MET's pair (but maybe that's because Gunn shone so

brightly). Diana Damrau, in her second DVD outing as the

Queen of the Night, is just as brilliant in her singing,

deadly evil, charged with menace in her delivery and

dialogue as on her memorable Covent Garden performance from

a few years earlier. But the idiot costumes in the current

Salzburg production squanders Damrau's effectiveness (she

is the star of the Covent Garden production, where the

ferocity of her energy - she's a possessed demon - makes

everyone else recede from memory. And that Covent Garden

production I absolutely despise, a drab,

Dickensian-Parliament-Cockney affair that, too, zaps the

magic out of the piece).

The Salzburg production also manages to render Papageno

charmless. That alone is a disqualifier. If a Magic Flute

cannot charm, what's the use? And as with the Lucio Silla,

it's infuriating, because the casts are so outstanding. I

am fearing the rest of the Mozart 22 releases in this

cycle, that they'll featured scuppered productions as well.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Never was it done so exquisitely and gracefully! 13 Jan 2010
By Mr John Haueisen - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Even the most eager devotees of Die Zauberfloete will usually admit that the Masonic trials of Tamino and Pamina can come as close as you can get to boring in a Mozart opera. But not here! Wow--would Mozart ever leap to his feet at what today's singers who can ACT and modern special effects can do towards what he wished for. As tenor Paul Groves says in the bonus section, here we actually have--right on stage--real fire and water.

This production of Magic Flute has left behind the first two hundred years of performance, with a fresh, creative and special effects-filled production still true to Mozart's original message. Yes, there's still all the magnificent harmony of Papageno/Papagena and their "Mann und Weib, Weib und Mann." Rene Pape wows us with an "In these sacred halls" aria that recalls for us the smooth seamless bass of Kurt Moll. Yes, you'll revel in Papagena's bright-plumed revelation to Papageno, complete with "birds" hopping, dancing, and hovering overhead in an almost ballet accompaniment.

But I've saved the best for last: Diana Damrau is unquestionably the greatest-ever Queen of the Night. There's no standing or posturing as difficult arias are performed. Damrau is a queen with personality and regal haughtiness who delivers every line as if she--the Queen--really means it. She convinces us of why she's angry, and as she does her daughter Pamina, the Queen intimidates everyone she confronts. She hisses out her "mother's curse" and vanishes from the stage. Never was it done so exquisitely and gracefully!

Damrau's gowns are creative, innovative, beautiful and appropriate. But it is her acting and flawless singing that bring across the queenly proud, furious glaring, domineering, and dramatic intensity that she focuses on every line she delivers--spoken or sung. I have never seen such an exquisitely beautiful, powerful and convincing Queen of the Night.

The Queen of the Night's last stand--where her power is shattered--often almost goes unnoticed. But here, flashes and fountains of sparks heighten the final scene, leaving our beloved haughty queen defeated, yet still beautiful. Wow! The Magic Flute has never been so magical.
22 of 29 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Mistaken Reading Of Symbols 23 Jan 2007
By Jerry W. Edinger - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I love Mozart more than any other composer. I greatly admire Muti, his production of "Cosi" is the best I have seen. But.... there is no way I would allow Papageno to come out on stage in a car painted by someone who was on drugs. Papageno is a nature man, from feather to feather. He has no need for the world or its problems. He wants a wife, some food and drink, and children. Basic animal insticts. And he has no need for cars. As Brigid Brophy said concerning Mozart's operas, "Most Mozart performances bury the virtues-sometimes under cheap and farcial business, but more often under picturesque and extremely expensive business." This is a classic example.

I don't mind the bright colors, or the various costume styles. I'm not looking for staging that reflects a certain time period. If a stage director can make it work, that's fine. But it must work with the music and the libretto. This production seems to think that the audience will perish of boredom if the producer left them alone for a moment unattended with just Mozart's music. The 3 boys flying across the stage in an airplane isn't "fine." The libretto refers several times to Papageno having feathers... unfortunately this Papageno does not. He does have dreadlocks, but no feathers. He doesn't have to be covered with them, in my opinion. Maybe just one stuck in his dreadlocks would do.

It never ceases to amaze me how stage designers and costumers continually come up with new ways to degrade a perfectly "perfect" opera. Papageno doesn't even have his magic bells, just a silver ball. Maybe the next production will have Tamino, not with a flute, but with an Ipod in his hand. As Bernard Shaw said," You can go to every Mozart opera that is available to you and if one of them reveals it's true merits and the symbols and music speak not to your head but to your heart, it will be a miracle." I'm paraphrasing. This production is not that miracle. I will try the Nicolai Gedda one... it was produced by Peter Ustinov... maybe it will speak to me.
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