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Opera In English - Mozart: The Magic Flute / Mackerras


Release Date: 04/26/2005 
Label:  Chandos   Catalog #: 3121   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Barry BanksDiana MontagueMajella CullaghSarah Fox,   ... 
Conductor:  Sir Charles Mackerras
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic OrchestraGeoffrey Mitchell ChoirNew London Children's Choir
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 17 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

"Here, in his 80th-birthday year, is confirmation of Sir Charles Mackerras’s credentials as one of the leading Mozart interpreters of our time. With an outstanding, hand-picked cast, he breathes fresh magic into this most magical of operas, inspiring singing and playing of fabulous lightness and poise. Another feather in Opera in English’s cap." - GRAMOPHONE

Needless to say, if it's Magic Flute in English you're looking for, this will be your recording of choice. But even if it's just another recording of this opera you want, this one has plenty to offer. Charles Mackerras' leadership is simply ideal: he prefers quick tempos, but there's never a sense of being rushed (save in Pamina's second-act aria, although after
Read more less than a minute into it, it seems right), and I like the way the Three Ladies don't linger and swoon over Tamino. They're always businesslike, and a fine trio they are: Sarah Fox, Majella Cullagh, and Diana Montague. Mackerras works the finales particularly well, with an organic sense of build-up. There are brief embellishments added for the soloists, and they fit perfectly. The London Philharmonic and Geoffrey Mitchell Choir play and sing naturally, and overall the opera comes across as a grand popular entertainment, just as it was meant to, with only enough spoken dialogue to keep the plot clear.

The individual singers are a mixed lot. John Tomlinson is sounding quite long-in-the-tooth as Sarastro, with a wobble that is uncomfortable; but the dark, resonant tone is still something to hear and he fills each (understandable) phrase with meaning. As his problem soprano, Elizabeth Vidal is a good, weighty Queen, but she sings too cautiously at times to be truly effective. On the other hand, Rebecca Evans is a shining Pamina, with several gradations between pianissimo and forte, and she also phrases elegantly. Barry Banks' Tamino is ardent and clear, with dignified, princely delivery and tone. Not enough good things can be said about Simon Keenlyside's Papageno: from his delightful entrance aria, through his trials and blunders, to his scenes with the lovely, colorful Lesley Garrett as Papagena, he's soulful and warm, and he sings beautifully. The Three (unnamed) Boys are wonderfully otherworldly, John Graham-Hall is a funny, menacing Monastatos, and Christopher Purves is an imposing Speaker. This is a fine performance, in excellent sound, with nice stage effects.

--Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1.
Die Zauberflöte, K 620 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Barry Banks (Tenor), Diana Montague (Mezzo Soprano), Majella Cullagh (Soprano),
Sarah Fox (Soprano), Lesley Garrett (Soprano), Peter Bronder (Tenor),
Simon Keenlyside (Baritone), John Graham-Hall (Tenor), Rebecca Evans (Soprano),
Christopher Purves (Bass), John Tomlinson (Bass), Elisabeth Vidal (Soprano)
Conductor:  Sir Charles Mackerras
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Geoffrey Mitchell Choir,  New London Children's Choir
Period: Classical 
Written: 1791; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  Blackheath Halls, London, England 
Language: English 
Notes: Blackheath Halls, London, England (11/04/2004 - 11/10/2004) 

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