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Mozart: Die Zauberflote [DVD]  [NTSC]
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The internationally renowned Mozart interpreter Sir Colin Davis conducts the chorus and orchestra of the Royal Opera House and a glittering cast in David McVicar's 2003 production of Mozart's last opera recorded, in sumptuous surround sound, live at Covent Garden. Recorded in High Definition.
"This production's slow journey from darkness into the light…works well on the small screen, not least thanks to high-definition camera work and Sue Judd's inspired direction for television. The real magic, though, is supplied by the onstage cast...In Dorothea Röschmann's hands, Pamina emerges not so much a powerless victim of Fate but more as a passionate woman prepared to suffer in the nameof love. Her natural command of the stage is sagely employed by McVicar...Diana Damrau's supremely sung Queen of the Night oozes class, while Simon Keenlyside's profoundly human, touchingly sympathetic view of Papageno deserves an Olivier Award." (Classic fM)
"...a mellow warmth that was deeply satisfying. Simon Keenlyside...a triumph as quite the most engaging Papageno I have ever encountered...With an exceptional Queen of the Night, Diana Damrou, this is an evening no Mozart lover should miss..." (The Mail on Sunday)
CastSimon Keenlyside (Papageno)Dorothea Röschmann (Pamina)Will Hartmann (Tamino)Diana Damrau (Queen of the Night)Franz-Josef Selig (Sarasto)
The Orchestra of the Royal Opera House; Sir Colin Davis
Stage Director: David McVicar
Catalogue Number: OA0886DDate of Performance: 2003Running Time: 185 minutesSound: Dolby Surround; Dolby StereoAspect Ratio: 16:9 AnamorphicSubtitles: EN, ESLabel: Opus Arte
The Magic Flute in the 2003 Covent Garden production has an excellent cast... The acting, particularly Simon Keenlyside s Papageno, is admirable and the extra dialogue on DVD adds to the roundedness of the characters. Sir Colin Davis is a wonderful Mozartian and for less than a quarter of the price of a decent seat this set makes the most sublime pantomime of all for Christmas. --Classical Record Review
It is easy to underestimate the success of the ROH Die Zauberflote , so readily did the comedy flow in David McVicar s sensitive production under Colin Davis s benign direction. [Simon Keenlyside was] a triumph as quite the most engaging Papageno I have encountered, while the Tamino and Pamina of the German pair Will Hartmann and Dorothea Roschmann were stylish and musically satisfying ...an evening no Mozart lover should miss --The Mail on Sunday --This text refers to the Blu-ray edition.
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The cast of this opera is a veritable `Who's Who' of Opera and from my perspective there was no obvious weak link. Simon Keenlyside is superb as Papageno. His tone is excellent, he looks the part and in one or two scenes he shows an amazing athleticism. Dorothea Roschmann has such a lovely silky voice and is perfect for the part of Pamina. Diana Damrau is wonderful as the Queen of the Night. She not only has the voice for this role but she looks sufficiently menacing. I also thought that her costume was magnificent!
I can't help feeling that I have watched a different performance to the sizeable minority of people who clearly didn't enjoy this disc.
The singing and acting throughout are all excellent features. Simon Keenlyside provides an amusing and secure Papageno and Ailish Tynan matches him with an outlandish Papagena. Dorothea Roschmann performs with the same accuracy and vigour that she showed in Harnoncourt's Tito and Damrau is unassailable as the Queen of the Night and is ably supported by her three bizarrely presented `Ladies'. Sarastro is suitably authoritative and Monostatos and his cronies are equally effective. Tamino is increasingly convincing as the production progresses.
So far then, this is a highly recommended production. But for me there remain question marks to do with the actual recording. Because of the preponderance of dark scenes some viewers may find a problem with digital grain. This is something to consider if your viewing screen is on the larger size and greater than 40 inches for example.
Larger screens will make the digital grain more and more apparent as screen sizes increase. The other issue concerns the very low level of recorded sound which robs the music and the performance musically of impact unless the volume is turned up at least 5-6 DB. This is a lot and will require a sufficiently powerful amplifier. This may be a matter of concern for purchasers with moderate power at their disposal.
In summary therefore - a strong positive for the production (in all respects) but reservations for the recording quality. I would advise checking your replay equipment's compatibility bearing in mind the above technical observations.
The sound quality is fantastic, but the encoding in the disk isn't top. In particular, when selecting the 3.1 surround mode, this isn't detected by my amplifier which remains in stereo. Any other Blu Ray that I have triggers proper audio format detection from my amplifier. So I interpret this as a problem with the disk's encoding.
So once manually set, the audio is really great.
I can really recomemnd this interpretation of the Zauberflöte!
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I have had no grain issues, no sound issues, no darkness...Read more