Die Zauberflote is not a perfect opera, but for me it is still one of Mozart's best. This concert performance is very good, excellent even in a number of places. A couple of the costumes are rather drab, and Harry Peeters' Sarastro is rather underpowered, complete with a pronounced vibrato and a tendency to aspirate on runs, and even for a firm and noble character is too understated so he comes across as stolid in the end. Much compensates though, while a concert performance I did like how the singers did treat their surroundings as a stage and instead of standing there they do delve into their characters. The staging itself is very thoughtfully done. The performance is sharply photographed and is captured well on sound as well. The orchestral playing is powerful(Overture, Der Halle Roche) and beautiful(Ach Ich Fuhls, Dies Bildnis Ist Bezaubernd Schön), while John Elliot Gardiner's conducting successfully keeps everything moving without ever feeling too broad. The chorus singing manages to be both robust for their first chorus and sensitive for the Isis Und Osiris chorale. Michael Schade immediately appeals as Tamino with a handsome presence, pianissimo singing that takes your breath away and beautiful voice. Gerald Finley steals the show as Papagaeno, charming and hilarious without descending into farce and he has a great voice and style. Cristiane Oelze's Pamino is very moving and radiant-looking, while Cyndia Seiden handles the Queen of the Night's colouratura more than acceptably and evokes chills. Constanze Backes is witty as Papagaena, and Uwe Peper is a well characterised Monostatos. The Three Ladies are perfectly blended and rhythmically incisive, while the boys are charming and Detlof Roth is good as the Speaker. All in all, very good, though for me the 1971 Peter Ustinov-directed production with Gedda, Mathis, Sotin and Workman is the Magic Flute to watch. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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