(...) Unlike the directors of some recent Metropolitan Opera stagings, Julie Taymor received an enthusiastic ovation when her production of Mozart’s “Zauberflöte” had its debut at the house in 2004. In her staging, the path to enlightenment is a yellow-brick road of marvelous puppetry and whimsical creatures. Dancing bears, fanciful flamingos and writhing serpents illustrate the magic of Mozart’s fairy-tale allusion to Freemasonry.
“The Magic Flute” returned to the Met on Wednesday for its first performance of the season, with Bernard Labadie, a Baroque specialist who founded the chamber orchestra Les Violons du Roy, making a commendable house debut in the pit.
Mr. Labadie, who has been music director of opera companies in Canada, sensitively accompanied the singers and elicited crisp, lithe playing, carefully shaped phrases and measured tempos from the orchestra.
There is much talk at the Met these days about the importance of recruiting “singing actors” instead of “park and bark” performers. “The Magic Flute,” a singspiel with plenty of spoken dialogue, has always required singers with convincing theatrical abilities. As Papageno, Christopher Maltman sang with an appealing, lyrical baritone, and his apt comic timing boosted a compelling performance.
As Tamino, the tenor Matthias Klink, in his house debut, sang expressively but was sometimes vocally uneven. His interpretation was more passionate and less stiff than previous Taminos in this production. He wore the same Kabuki-style makeup, but the stylized poses choreographed for this role were minimized on Wednesday, allowing him to more freely (and effectively) inhabit it.
Susanna Phillips offered a charming portrayal of Pamina, singing with a clear, bright and elegant soprano and affecting sadness in the aria “Ach, ich fühl’s” when she worries that Tamino doesn’t love her.
Enveloped by gargantuan wings, Erika Miklosa made an arresting spectacle as Queen of the Night, sweeping through the rotating plexiglass sets decorated with Masonic symbols and elements of Buddhism and Indonesian puppetry. She nimbly scaled the heights of her daunting arias, casting menacing glances and brandishing her long talons.
Greg Fedderly elicited much laughter for his lively portrayal of Monostatos, who along with his slaves offers an outrageously campy dance. Dressed in bright yellow robes, Georg Zeppenfeld was a dignified Sarastro, singing with a rich, mellifluous voice. The smaller roles included effective performances by Kathleen Kim as Papagena and Wendy Bryn Harmer, Jamie Barton and Tamara Mumford as the Three Ladies. (...)
Via New York Times