Friday, November 09, 2007

The Magic Flute at SF Opera

Tamino: Piotr Beczala
Pamina: Dina Kuznetsova
Papageno: Christopher Maltman
The Queen of the Night: Erika Miklósa
Sarastro: Georg Zeppenfeld

Conductor: Donald Runnicles
Original Production: Sr Peter Hall
Director: Stanley M Garner
Designer: Gerald Scarfe

I was at the last performance of this opera last Saturday evening, in one of the best seats in the house: front row, grand tier. Musically I was very satisfied. Runnicles's tempos tend to be fast, though I never felt that he was rushing through things. I heard great flute & oboe solos from the pit. The cast was uniformly strong & consistent. The stand-out of the evening was Erika Miklósa as the Queen of Night. Her voice is lighter than one would expect for her character, but her coloratura sounded effortless, nuanced & even lovely. No shrieking to get out those high notes here! She got the biggest ovation of the evening after her 2nd act aria.

The production itself turns out to be a bit old. It's a revival of a 1993 production by Peter Hall. The setting is a clearly fairy tale Egypt, & the costumes are fanciful & bright. We got the clever & cute animals costumes, ala The Lion King. Actually, I totally enjoyed the little penguin in red tennis shoes that was obviously played by a child. I was creeped out by the chorus who all wore identical gowns & masks. It made Sarastro's court look like a totalitarian nightmare state.

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