It’s always a thrill to arrive at the Met and I never tire of it,
We had resolutely declined to see the cut-down version that the Met insisted on presenting as kid-friendly fare in the intervening years. They had once put a cut-down version of Barber of Seville on our subscription that so enraged us that we actually went to see it in protest…..They took out all the connective tissue and eliminated any repeats–it almost could pass–but if you do that with Flute, it would make the plot even more incomprehensible than it is.
(operanews.com) We had to exchange the date of our tickets and, as often happens at the Met, we lucked out with the alternate cast. An extraordinary Queen of the Night, Kathryn Lewek, sang the devilishly difficult arias lingering on the high F above high C;
(schleppynabuccos.blogspot.com) bass Tobias Kehrer sang a powerful Sarastro at the opposite end of the vocal range and, wonder of all, Toby Spence sang an effortless and brilliant Tamino–a very tough role to fill even without the bears.
(nytimes.com) Conductor Adam Fischer, whom we had heard in Vienna leading a great Figaro 15 years ago, kept the piece at a brisk tempo, resisting the temptation to slow down during its moving arias. He didn’t even wait for audience applause. Result–a crackling sumptuous Flute.
And it looks gorgeous too. We have seen many beautiful Flutes, beginning with the New York City Opera’s 1966 production designed by Beni Montresor
I have to say this production with crystal-like sets and Egyptian motifs designed by George Tsypin, and with costumes and puppets by Julie Taymor, ranks among the most magical. I especially loved Taymor’s bird costumes for the ballet with Papageno.
The problem is that Taymor tends to choreograph every note with flying draperies waved by the puppeteers, including the opening chords of the Queen of the Night’s aria. This was annoying the first time we saw this production and it still annoyed us last night. However.
Pretty much all the musical and production elements necessary to a good Flute are in place here and it never ceases to amaze me that it’s right at our front door. We saw seats available–I guess because there were no familiar names. Their loss–our gain. Late great Mozart; don’t miss it.