, July 2011
This performance was previously issued on a TDK DVD, and was reviewed in Fanfare 29:4 by Barry Brenesal, who stated his admiration for the stage director, Jean-Pierre Ponnelle. In my opinion Ponnelle had a flair for comedy…
In this production the set, as Brenesal notes, is that of an exterior and interior of an ancient crumbling stone temple. The Queen of the Night and her ladies are dressed in Baroque gowns, while Sarastro and his followers are costumed as representatives of enlightenment. Ponnelle also designed the costumes.
Ponnelle’s flair for comedy is represented by Christian Boesch, who steals the show as Papageno. He sings well and acts superbly. Peter Schreier has the kind of lyric tenor that is suitable for the role of Tamino; Ileana Cotrubas is an acceptable Pamina. I have never been particularly fond of Edita Gruberova. As Brenesal notes, she is better in her first-act aria, but in “Der Hölle Rache” she exhibits a wide vibrato. Martti Talvela is an excellent Sarastro. The voice of Horst Hiestermann, the Monostatos, wobbles and is frequently off pitch. Walter Berry is a fine Speaker.
James Levine collaborates well with the soloists, and his tempos are fine. The sound is excellent and subtitles in English are available. Although I would not rate this Salzburg performance at the top of the list, I agree with Barry Brenesal, who said, “This is definitely a Die Zauberflöte to enjoy.”