This is a musically compelling version with no obvious weak links. Deon Van Der Walt gives us a brilliant Tamino and his magnificent tone is apparent from the very first entry. He is the star of this production and I recommend this DVD for his performance alone—both musically and dramatically—that’s how good he is. Second in the…order…is the Papageno of Thomas Mohr. He is likeable, funny without going way over the top, enthusiastic and his arias are beautifully judged, especially Ein Madchen oder Weibchen where there is a tangible personal interplay between soloist and conductor. This is a key point about the production as a whole—it is small-scale and intensely intimate. Gönnenwein can virtually reach out from the pit to the singers on the small stage of this tiny opera house. A major benefit of this physical scale is the immaculate ensemble work. Everything is tight and secure with Gönnenwein and his superb orchestra giving fine support with sensible tempi allowing his singers to articulate properly without being rushed. The use of cameras in the pit brings the orchestra straight into the living room and makes the viewer feel part of a live experience right from the off.
Cornelius Hauptmann is a good Sarastro…Ulrike Sonntag is excellent in her Act 2 arias and she has real rapport with Deon Van Der Walt throughout. The two Queen of the Night arias are admirable…and finally I have to praise the three boys. They really sing their hearts out and are an integral part of the production rather than mere bit players.