This review is from: Mozart: Die Zauberflote (Audio CD)
From the the brassy overture you get the feeling Harnoncourt's Zauberflote is different. He emphasizes some score markings that take you by surprise when you're used to the Bohm or Klemperer recordings. There is an earthiness that makes you feel you are listening to a piece of 18th Century theatre (and not just the obvious mechanical thunder effects) which adds life and vitality.
Scharinger as Papageno enjoys the theatricality, even if his voice could not be described as particularly unique. Blochwitz has a beautiful voice, though to be picky there are slight strains on the A naturals. He has grace and refinement in abundance. I've never gone out of my way to listen to Barbara Bonney, until now - her Pamina is confident and her tone always bright and pleasing. Gruberova is a magnificent Queen of the Night and her vocal acrobatics, as you would expect, are shrugged off. The supporting cast are all fine though my one dissatisfaction was Salminen's Sarastro - a light-weight voice that lacks the presence you need to measure up to the Queen of the Night.
A final note about spoken dialogue - if, like me, you want to get through it asap then this is the set to have. A close-mic narrator offers a few words together with one or two sentences from the relevant cast member and away we go - just what's needed.