Thomson Smillie's series of Opera Explained audiobooks on individual operatic works is the perfect introduction for the would-be opera fan. Each title in the series runs about an hour, features plenty of recorded clips, and is narrated with pluck and good humor by David Timson. Your opera education starts here.
There is little question that Mozart was the greatest musical genius who has ever lived. In The Magic Flute, his final opera before his untimely death, Mozart gives full voice to the philosophic underpinnings of his profound work. With magical and courtly elements, The Magic Flute is also an apology for Enlightenment thinking, and is one of the most-performed operas worldwide every year. There is no better introduction than this audiobook performance.
The Magic Flute almost defines a masterpiece, because it can be enjoyed on every level. It is a superb fairy story, complete with dragons, demons, a handsome prince, and a lovely maiden seriously in need of rescue; it is a political satire, social commentary, and psychological drama; it is full of tunes from the playful to the heart-stopping, jolly songs, and deeply spiritual outpourings. It is, in short, "Mozart" - and there is no greater compliment than that.
This production gives us a wonderful insight into possibly the most remarkable work ever written for the stage. Beginning with an enticing overview of Mozart's astonishing output, David Timson then takes us through The Magic Flute with infectious pleasure at every turn of genius. From the delightfully comic Papageno "rudely trying to sing with his mouth full of padlock" to the Queen of the Night's "Vengeance" aria, we enjoy the full spectrum of dramatic situations.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.
©2002 Naxos AudioBooks (P)2002 Naxos AudioBooks
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"The sublime and the ridiculous"
Die Zauberflöte is an intriguing work of art on so many levels. One can speculate about symbols, revel in virtuoso displays, delight in the costumes, and laugh at the absurd. It's a great first opera for children: they love Papageno's silly antics as much as his feathers. For all that, this might have been a great presentation, but it's terribly disappointing.
Once again there is entirely too much introduction: 23 minutes pass before Tamino enters, stage left. There's simply not enough time to waste on this, and most listeners will not need a pop culture rehash of "Mozart is a genius and here's why."
There is entirely too much digression into the irrelevant. For example, instead of letting the Queen of the Night's coloratura stand on its own, an irrelevant example of coloratura from Bellini is played.
There's no rhyme or reason to the way in which the characters and plot are introduced.
It's all over the place, and even David Timson's usual wonderful narration can't save it.
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