Thursday, October 01, 2009

Met: Die Zauberflöte

The met
Die Zauberflöte
Metropolitan Opera

Wednesday, September 30, 2009, 8:00 pm

Conductor: Bernard Labadie

Pamina: Susanna Phillips
Queen of the Night: Erika Miklósa
Tamino: Matthias Klink
Papageno: Christopher Maltman
Speaker: David Pittsinger
Sarastro: Georg Zeppenfeld
Monostatos: Greg Fedderly
Speaker: David Pittsinger
Papagena: Kathleen Kim

Production: Julie Taymor
Set Designer: George Tsypin
Costume Designer: Julie Taymor
Lighting Designer: Donald Holder
Puppet Designers: Julie Taymor, Michael Curry
Choreographer: Mark Dendy

I totally see why this production is so popular. I didn't see an empty seat anywhere in the family circle, & was happy to settle for standing room. While there were pyramids & Egyptian motifs, the costumes looked Asian, perhaps reflecting the setting of the source fairy tale. The Queen of Night had a great costume with Peking Opera banners sprouting from her back. I was delighted with all the spectacle, especially the giant dancing bears that Tamino conjures with his flute. They more than made up for missing Siegfried's bear on a previous visit. I was highly entertained by Papageno's floating banquet, & the way that Sarastro's enemies disappear under a giant gold fabric at the end was also very effective.

The cast was uniformly fine. Christopher Maltman's Papageno is as comfortable acting as singing, & the same goes for his Papagena, Kathleen Kim, who surprised me when she finally started singing in her strong, clear voice. Erika Miklósa has an unexpectedly pleasant, almost fluffy, voice even on the highest notes. She startled me with her subito piano during a high passage in O zittre nicht. There is nothing ferocious or scary about her interpretation. Instead it's strain-free beauty impressed. Her Der Hölle Rache got the most sustained applause of the evening. Susanna Phillips as Pamina acted with her singing, & her Bie Männern duet with Papageno & Ach, Ich fühl's were musical highlights. Greg Fedderly was obviously having great fun as Monostatos, costumed as a cross between a bat & an over-weight beetle. Even the small role of the Speaker was impressively delivered by David Pittsinger.

The only thing I couldn't get excited about was Bernard Labadie's conducting, which seemed to lack structure. The singers sometimes pushed or pulled at the tempos, but to no avail. I continue to be impressed by the orchestral sound way up at the top of the house. It just takes a really long time to egress after it's all over!

No comments: