Notes and Editorial Reviews
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Historical Studio Production from the Hamburg State Opera, 1971
Sung in German
Sarastro: Hans Sotin
Tamino: Nicolai Gedda
Speaker: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau
Queen Of The Night: Christina Deutekom
Pamina: Edith Mathis
Papageno: William Workman
Papagena: Carol Malone
Monostatos: Franz Grundheber
Two Men In Armour: Kurt Moll / Bernd Rüter
Chorus of the Hamburg State Opera
The Philharmonic State Orchestra Hamburg
Horst Stein, conductor
Sir Peter Ustinov, director
(arranged for TV by Joachim Hess)
Picture format: NTSC 4:3
format: Dolby Digital Mono
Region code: 0 (all)
Subtitle Languages: German, English, French, Spanish, Italian
Menu Languages: German, English, French, Spanish
Running time: 156 mins
No. of DVDs: 1
* This 1971 film version of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Magic Flute is based on a production at Hamburg State Opera staged by the multi-talented stage, television and film author, director and actor Sir Peter Ustinov, with decor and costumes by Jens-Denis Malclès.
* The cast brought together by Rolf Liebermann for this film version of The Magic Flute consists of stars with established international careers, including the likes of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, but also of singers who were just on the point of breaking through to international fame at the time.
This splendid monaural, colorful-if-a-bit-grainy film of Mozart's Die Zauberflöte was made at the Hamburg State Opera in 1971 and I believe this is the first time it has been made available. Rolf Liebermann was the company's intendant at the time and he was brilliant, gathering casts, designers, and directors that were the world's best. This Flute is directed by Peter Ustinov, and while not revolutionary in any way, it is charming, honest, and invariably true to the music. In addition, it makes the singers seem like relatively good actors.
Joachim Hess directed for TV and the camera is used as part of the action--it's never too busy but keeps us in touch with the characters--although there is an over-abundance of close-ups. The performance is lip-synched but it's only occasionally noticeable. Jean-Denis Malcles' sets and costumes are colorful and witty, with Papageno's feathers and the Queen of the Night's blazing headdress expected but good, the entrance of the Three Boys in a hot air balloon a delight, and the tamable beasts splendidly Sesame-Streetish. Dancers in green hold branches to imitate trees. And with Horst Stein's solid musical direction of the whole event, we have a fine traditional outlook for this opera.
Where it shines brilliantly is in the singing. Nicolai Gedda recorded Tamino under Klemperer several years previously, but it was nowhere near as ardent or well sung as this performance: He caresses Pamina's portrait, and his breath control and legato are models of Mozartian singing. And his acting is more credible than I recall from him on stage. Edith Mathis' Pamina is simply lovely. No shrinking violet, she seems about to maul Monastatos in their first appearance; and her desire for the truth--"Die Wahrheit"--is strong and firm. "Ach ich fühls" is graceful and sad and her phrasing is masterly.
Baritone William Workman may not have possessed a particularly distinctive tone, but his Papageno is just about ideal--he's boyish-looking and seems thoroughly naive--and everything he does sparkles with spontaneity. Hans Sotin's younger-than-usual Sarastro is like a rock, and his legato singing is a rare, welcome treat in this part. He rarely exclaims, and his sincerity and warmth come across vividly. On the other hand, Christina Deutekom's Queen of the Night is a mess. Yes, she's got all the notes, and once you get accustomed to her gargley delivery it becomes a fact of life rather than a burden; but she's utterly impassive and seems to be in another opera, coming across as a hausfrau who sings spectacularly. Was she always such a lousy actress?
The role of Monastatos is taken, oddly but very convincingly, by a baritone, no less than Franz Grundheber, near the start of his career. Another oddity is Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau as the Speaker, intoning with authority. Carol Malone's Papagena is pert and feathery. And please note a young Kurt Moll as one of the men in armor. Subtitles are provided in four languages. A fine addition to any collection!
--Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com
Works on This Recording
Die Zauberflöte, K 620 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Baritone),
Hans Sotin (Bass),
Nicolai Gedda (Tenor),
Cristina Deutekom (Soprano),
Edith Mathis (Soprano),
William Workman (Baritone),
Kurt Moll (Bass),
Franz Grundheber (Baritone),
Carol Malone (Soprano)
Hamburg State Opera Chorus,
Hamburg State Philharmonic Orchestra
Written: 1791; Vienna, Austria
Date of Recording: 1971
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