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on 16 November 2004
This is the best Magic Flute I've ever seen, the production is wonderful throughout. I like my Queen of the Night and her Three Ladies to have balls and they don't disappoint, all four are fantastically sung but especially the Queen. I like Opera on DVD to be well staged and well acted, as I do in the theatre, only on CD do I find the need for perfection of the voice. I've seen far more enjoyable performances by supposedly second rate companies then I've seen sometimes when I've paid the earth. Tamino is in this respect, as usual, a tad inert but that seems to go with the role, maybe it meant more in Mozart's time. Papagano is on the other hand outstanding in every way, by far the funniest performance of this role I've ever seen and also by far the most assured. For the Queen, her ladies and Papageno this is a must. Very rearly are performances perfect but this one is near enough.
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on 14 April 2017
Best "Flute" I've found. Tightly integrated performance at all levels, including audio and video quality. An ideal Pamina expresses convincing depth in acting and singing.
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on 20 September 2014
Beautiful throughout. Could not better the cast or production.
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on 18 January 2011
This is by far the best production I've seen to Die Zauberflote. I saw the same opera in the Bavarian State Opera and in the Bibliotheca Alexandrina conference hall and neither can stand up to the singing techniques and the passion with which this production was made
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This is a wonderful production of this strange and compelling opera, written and first performed just months before Mozart's death. Musically, it is excellent, with assured direction from Sir Colin Davis and performances which are at least good in all the main roles, and excellent from Simon Keenlyside (Papageno), Dorothea Roschmann (Pamina) and Diana Damrau (the Queen of the Night) in particular. 'Der Holle Rache' is presented with astonishing vocal security and terrifying menace by Damrau (her eyes burning with hatred) - poor Pamina! It's hard to imagine anyone doing this better and it is utterly compelling. The acting is impressively good too (Keenlyside shines here, and earns a well-deserved ovation at the end) and the production is imaginative and beautiful visually, with a lovely balance of the disparate elements of the opera - comedy, slapstick, the supernatural, the conflict between dark and light, good and evil. the sincerity of the young lovers, the solemn pageantry of Sarastro, the Temple-Dwellers and the Initiated and so on. One liberty, you could call it, is the casting of Monostatos, not as a bad black man, a Moor, but as an equally
bad foppish courtier attended by a sinister and fidgety gang of supporters, but as Adrian Thompson portrays this very well and it seems quite in accord with the character if not the outward appearance of the man, I'm happy to go along with this instance of political correctness, if that's what it
is. Overall, I can't imagine this done much better. Very warmly recommended.
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If you are in process of deciding which DVD of Die Zauberflöte to buy, then I must implore you to choose this!

I disagree somewhat with the previous reviewer who found fault with Diana Damrau's stage presence, as I believe her and the director's interpretation of the character brought a much needed angle to the production. Yes, the stereotypical Queen of the Night is the dominating powerhouse who would strike fear into the entire audience, but I still believe that Damrau accomplishes this whilst still maintaining a sense of dimension and though perhaps not to everyone's taste, a hint of mortality.

The direction is world class, the choreography fantastic (especially with the puppetry), the set and costume breath-taking and the humour both well-timed and well executed.

Highlights for me would of course be the incredibly secure Tamino and Pamina, the outstanding Papageno and Adrian Thompson's Monastatos, performed superbly.

One lowlight for myself as a basso, Franz-Josef Selig wimped out of the "bottom" C (Finale, Act 1), I know that in most scores it's an ossia, so I'll probably forgive him one day!
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on 3 October 2004
This is a captivating production, but clearly not one for the traditionalists. Opera does move with the times and I thought the characterisation on every level was accessible, moving, fun and dramatic. The sets were stunning, the performances fully in tune with the spirit of the production, and the pace terrific. I almost cried when Pamino was rescued from suicide by the three boys, and this scene for me encapsulated the crossover between traditional and more contemporary production values. It resonated with symbols and images that are accessible to the modern audience without losing anything of Mozart's original intent. It even managed to offer some escape from the inherent sexism of this opera (which you have to accept as being a feature of the time and place Mozart was in when he wrote it). I absolutely loved the tarty papagena and the working class anti hero form of papageno, and the scene with the children pillow fighting on their bed made me laugh out loud. Well done all concerned with this production, it kept me entranced the whole night long. Excellent video and editing too by the way - not always done well in DVDs of live opera.
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HALL OF FAMEon 1 October 2003
Many of us hold up as the standard filmed version of 'The Magic Flute' the one that Ingmar Bergman did at Drottningholm perhaps twenty years ago. Obviously the film opened up the stage and made the opera more cinematic than a staged version could be.
This DVD is of a production taped digitally in January 2003 at Covent Garden, a new production staged by David McVicar, designed by John Macfarlane and conducted by that eminent Mozartian, Sir Colin Davis. And, of course, it is simply of a stage production; there is no breaking down the walls of the stage. However, the direction for video is both masterful and unobtrusive. And then there's the production itself.
The leading singers are all quite wonderful. The only slightly less than top-drawer singer, in my opinion, is Franz-Josef Selig as Sarastro; he has the cavernous bass required for the part but there is an incipient wobble that distracts. In the 'wonderful' category are some singers previously unknown to me. Tamino is sung by a young German tenor, Will Hartmann, whose voice reminds me of that star German tenor of yesteryear, Rudolf Schock; it is not innately beautiful but it is solid, masculine and has a ringing top. His acting is basic but more than adequate; Tamino is not a role that calls for great acting. The Queen of the Night, Diana Damrau, is not one of those coloratura canaries so often assigned to the role; she is a dramatic coloratura and not only does she sing the role well, her acting is believable. Her makeup and costume make her look, appropriately, like a cross between Morticia Addams and Cruella de Vil. A scary lady. Pamina is sung, and acted believably, by German soprano Dorothea Röschmann. Her 'Ach, ich fuhl's' is moving and utterly gorgeous. She has floated high notes that cause gooseflesh.
The lesser roles are also taken well. Papagena is humorous, physical and well-sung by Ailish Tynan. Monastatos is properly repellantly lecherous and sung with impeccable diction by Adrian Thompson. It was particularly heart-warming to see well-loved veteran basso, Richard Van Allen, as the First Priest; the voice is still there and his acting, as always, is spot on. Thomas Allen's Speaker is a bit less effective but still quite good. The three Ladies, the three Boys and the two Armed Men are all effective sung and acted.
My highest praise, though, goes to Simon Keenlyside who is quite simply the best Papageno I've ever seen. His is an extremely athletic performance; he takes some tumbles and makes some leaps that have you gasping in surprise. At one point he slides across the stage--trying to catch a bird at the end of his entrance aria--as well as any short-stop you've ever seen. His comic acting--aided by lots of close-ups--has you laughing out loud, and yet he portrays the longing for 'eine Weibchen' in a way that puts a lump in your throat. His sturdy baritone is one of the best around these days. A real triumph for him. The audience gave him, deservedly, the loudest and longest applause during the curtain calls.
Overall, this is the best staged production of 'Zauberflöte' I've ever seen. I was riveted and didn't even take a break between the two acts I was so drawn into it. Extras on the DVD inlude brief interviews with McVicar and Macfarlane, and a long interview--quite informative and utterly charming--with Sir Colin. There is also a spoken synopsis that is quite well done, and I'd suggest you view it before you view the opera if you're not very familiar with the plot.
I give this DVD my very highest recommendation.
Scott Morrison
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on 20 July 2011
Die Zauberflote is an opera that all ages should be able to enjoy and this production is enjoyable from beginning to end. Despite not indulging in Deus ex Machina type theatricals such as with the Queen's "O zittre nicht" entrance this is a dramatic and engaging performance from everyone in the cast and the pit.

Some opera need not be taken too seriously and this is one of them. Keenlyside's Papageno is animated and fun throughout and together with Roschmann's Pamina provide the two most sympathetic characters. Tamino's twittish uselessness is evident too, revealing the director (McVicar) understands the libretto as well as Sir Colin Davies understands the score.

I think one would have to go back to the 1970's and Edda Moser to find a more furious Konigen der nacht than Diana Damrau who acts up a storm to boot. Monostatos is no longer a Moor, for PC reasons no doubt, but well played by Thompson. Papagena (Tynan) is hilarious and the fact that in the excitement of the scene she can't keep up with Keenlyside in "Pa-Pa-Papagena" is just charming.

I can't think of anything negative to say (unusualy), even the sound quality is good, so I must reluctantly award 5 stars. A great introduction to Opera for noobs or a thoroughly enjoyable production for seasoned luvvies.
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on 16 May 2008
... but with a disappointing Queen of the Night. Diane Damrau has one task in this role, and one only - to walk onto the stage and command it, to fill the stage with her presence and her voice so that you forget anyone else is there, to be the QUEEN OF THE NIGHT, for God's sake!

And yet when she appears in Act one you end up thinking "is that it?" She commands less than any one of her three ladies, a strangely insignificant and powerless figure who with great effort achieves little. In her, supposedly huge, second act aria "Der Holle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen" she again expends great effort to produce little authority or menace or presence.

Other than Diane Damrau, a fascinating and excellent production that would have been worthy of five stars but for her.
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