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Mozart - Die Zauberflote (2001)

Dorothea Roschmann , Piotr Beczala , Benno Besson  |  NR |  DVD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Dorothea Roschmann, Piotr Beczala, Matti Salminen, Desiree Rancatore, Uwe Peper
  • Directors: Benno Besson
  • Format: NTSC, Dolby, Surround Sound, Widescreen, Subtitled
  • Language: German
  • Subtitles: German, English, French, Italian
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Alliance
  • DVD Release Date: November 20, 2007
  • Run Time: 158 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000WXR4X6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #196,064 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews


This is Benno Besson's Die Zauberflöte. The late Swiss-born director and disciple of Brecht here created a historically informed production in the best sense of the term. It is meticulously researched, and that shows in many obvious and subtle ways: everything from the frequent and striking visual use of Masonic symbolism to the class differentiation in clothing among the forest beasts charmed by Tamino's flute. (That's right: like some child's 18th-century fable book, the animals are human below the neck. Praise to Marc Stehlé for the costumes.) Besson is willing to let the opera play out on many levels, instead of trying to reduce it to the lowest common denominator.

It's also a Die Zauberflöte with touches of magic integrated throughout. Papageno performs his five note rising motto theme on the pipes, a flash of white proceeds swiftly from the top left of the stage to his cage on the floor, and a pigeon appears in it. Shouldn't a bird catcher who is part bird himself also have a bit of magic clinging to him? On a more artistic plane, a turbulent blue sky backdrop in cloth is later draped across the floor, imitating an unsettled sea; it then rises slowly in the center to human dimensions, ultimately revealing the head and shoulders of the Queen of the Night, who sings her act I aria. Besson finds the right moments to do these kinds of thing, so they don't seem imposed from the outside.

There's more attention paid to some details of the libretto and music than is usually the case, as well. For example, Sarastro and his people are portrayed in the text as potentially threatening presences to Tamino and Pamina before the end of act I. Why cushion the menace, when it adds tension? Besson's Sarastro seems almost the stereotype of an Oriental despot in appearance, while his chorus members, dressed in drab early-Victorian attire, frown with distaste at Tamino and Pamina as they chant hymns in praise of the master. It works well, and feels right.

François Roussillon's camerawork ably abets the efforts of Besson and Stehlé. There are a number of establishing shots from a distant perspective, and a focus on grouped shots of all the relevant figures at the center of stage attention, rather than the usual quick jumps from one person to another as singers switch off their lines. The Overture's filming concentrates on instrumental soloists as appropriate and on Fischer's unspectacular but precise technique at other times, instead of providing the usual slow scan of all the musicians from artistic angles.

The cast is good to excellent, with the best performances coming from Rancatore and Röschmann. The former delivers a dramatically interpreted "O zittre nicht," but also produces a beautifully sung "Du, du, du wirst sie zu befreien gehen," every note given full value (if not taken at a brilliant pace). The latter has a rich lyrical voice ("Ach, ich fühl's" is magnificently poised yet despairing) and great warmth of phrasing. These qualities are shown to advantage in "Bei Männern," though Roth sadly doesn't take the hint. He has a distinctively dark baritone, but uses few dynamics, and phrases with a restraint more appropriate to some Schubert songs than to Papageno. This amiable bird catcher comes across coldly, as a result. (The final verse of "Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen" achieves the easy charm he should have had all along.) Beczala's not at his best in his act I aria, where he shows all the right instincts but sings dully. By the scene between Tamino and the Speaker, however, he is in fine form, moving easily between a forthright, ringing tone and a finely modulated softer voice. Salminen, too, has a slightly rough start, but his two solos (in particular, "O Isis und Osiris") are delivered with that sumptuous majesty that comes so easily to him. Of the Three Ladies, Perrin and Schneiderman sing well, but Perraguin has some moderate difficulty making the upper part of her voice sound. Peper sounds tired and worn as Monostatos. Fischer leaders his Parisian forces in a reading that emphasizes clarity, point, and the strengths of his singers.

The acting in general is good, and much in the Singspiel tradition, divided between characters playing to one another and to the audience. The only exception comes from Peper, who almost never displays any facial expressions, and gestures vaguely. If this is owed to directorial intervention, I've no idea what it is meant to convey.

Audio is available in LPCM stereo, and DD 5.1. Picture format is 16:9, and subtitles are in English, German, French, Italian, and Spanish. There are, of course, many DVD versions of Die Zauberflöte out there, and quite a few excellent ones. Some can surpass this on the grounds of one performer or another, but none I've encountered gets so close to the libretto while bringing a childlike sense of enchantment to the proceedings. This is a production to see and to treasure. -- Fanfare, Barry Brenesal, January 2010

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A TRULY SPECTACULAR AND MAGICAL FLUTE January 20, 2008
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This DVD instantly goes to the the top of the list of great DVD MAGIC FLUTES. This is going to be an easy review because everyone and everything is just right:
1) Tamino-Piotr Beczala is a new tenor to me. He has a sound that has a little bit of Fritz Wunderlich in him; not always consistent, but it is there none the less. I cannot imagine anyone singing it any better today.
2) Pamina-Dorothea Roschmann even outdoes her earlier DVD performance with Colin Davis. She is more involved in this magnificent production.
3) Queen of the Night-Desiree Rancatore is up there with all my favorite Konigins; and I mean Damrau on DVD and Berger, Moser, Deutekom, Popp on CD. She is just as dramatic as Diana Damrau.
4) Papageno-Detlef Roth has a little of Herman Prey in his vocal color. Great singing and acting.
5) Sarastro-Matti Salminen is just perfect.
6) Conductor-Ivan Fischer one of the great interpretations!
7) Sets & Costumes-truly magical. A traditional Magic Flute with tons of high tech special effects. The stage director-Benno Besson and the set designer and costume designer-Jean-Marc Stehle truly get it ABSOLUTELY RIGHT. There is true magic in the costumes, sets, staging, and ALL SPECIAL EFFECTS!!! There are so many magical effects it is hard to single them out but , here is one: watch the transformation of the Old Hag into Papagena.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely wonderful April 1, 2008
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I was intrigued about the references to special effects in the two reviews already posted and, as these are features I like to see in movies as well as opera I decided to go ahead and get this version of The Magic Flute. I have had the version from The Metropolitan Opera House for many years and acquired the Covent Garden version as soon as it became available. It immediately became a great favorite of mine and I was impressed by the performances of Simon Keenlyside, Dorothea Roschmann and none more so that Diana Damrau as the Queen of the Night.
I have had the opportunity to view this latest version several times and think that in almost all respects it is a more interesting and enjoyable interpretation to see. I love the clarity of the orchestra, the clever and artistic stage-sets, the special effects, the fantastic (in the true sense of the word) costumes and agree with one of the other reviews that almost all of the singers give truly outstanding performances. I would beg to differ about only one of the singers and that is Desiree Rancatore who, while giving a perfectly adequate performance, is nowhere near as impressive and completely in charge of her role as Diana Damrau. It was also good to see Dorothea Roschmann advance from the smaller part of Papagena (which she did with great comical flair) at Covent Garden to the more substantial role of Pamina in this one.
This is a wonderful DVD which I imagine will be of great appeal to young and old, novices and opera devotees, alike.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best traditional Zauberflote December 7, 2008
The best traditional staging of Die Zauberflöte I've seen, that captures both the high-minded Freemasonry and magic/mysticism of the play: I recommend this above the Met with Battle/Araiza Mozart - Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) / Levine, Battle, Serra, Metropolitan Opera or Bayerische Staatsoper (Popp/Araiza) Mozart - Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute)

The scene of Tamino/Pamina going through the tests almost makes it dramatically convincing--although it takes the energy and joy on Roschmann's (Pamina) face to add the final touch. (A director can only do so much with the limited time the music gives.)

No superlatives are too great for Roschmann as Pamina; the 3 boys are also outstanding--as good as actors as the adults. Beczala as Tamino is new to me; not a great actor, but a clear tone.

Detlef Roth as Papageno is not the funniest I've seen, but that's not a detriment here; the final scene where he meets and plans a family with Le Roi as Papagena is not as erotically charged as some other productions; however, Le Roi is excellent, gazing up at him with love and erotic desire.

Salminen is of course excellent as Sarastro, although I don't know why they put him in that fake enlarged brain.

Désirée Rancatore as the Queen of the Night is young for the role (relative to her "daughter" Roschmann), but sings superbly and acts with vigor (especially when limited by a robe that enwraps her arms. The special effects accompanying her appearances are excellent.

Monostatos' body suit is well-designed; he acts well, but seems to run out of energy at the end.

The animals are exceptionally cute, considering their dramatically limited role.

In sum, if you want a traditional staging, this is it.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Enchanting Flute December 19, 2008
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is indeed an enchanting Magic Flute. Does it trump the Colin Davis ROH performance? No, but it is a matter of swings and roundabouts. A major weakness in the Davis set is the Tamino. It is simply not an attractive voice when compared to other Taminos. The Paris Opera boasts a young tenor from Poland, Piotr Bezcala who not only sings well, but is attractive and musical. They both share the same Pamina, Dorothea Roschmann. She is clearly the Pamina that trumps all other contenders. If the voice is not idiosyncratic, it has that wonderful creamy sound that only seems to come from Central Europe. The Papagano is Detief Roth; perfectly satisfactory but Davis has Simon Keenlyside, one of the most charismatic baritones currently singing. Roth doesn't sings badly, it is just that Keenlyside has the voice the looks, the physicality and panache that make for a really great singer; in short he is incomparable. The Queen in the David set is also superior, Diana Damrau. The role is essentially thankless. Mozart provided two of the most difficult arias for a high soprano, a miniscule amount of dialogue and no involvemnt with the other characters. This is not to say Rantore doesn't sing well, but Damrau is clearly the superior technician and being German provides her with an edge. To be frank I would never base my decision to buy a Magid flute on the QofN, but it does end up in the plus column at the end of the day.

The production for thie set is wonderful and quite imaginative and totally traaditional. Which brings me to a comment made by a previous reviewer of this set, mainly that it succeeds because it is French. I have no idea what was meant by this comment. The director (regie) is Swiss, and trained under Felsenstein in East Berlin. the cast is from central Europe.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Best available version
This is a beautifully-sung, well-conducted, and well-conceived version. The opera is not simple to bring off completely, as it is a utopian fantasy where the enlightenment dream of... Read more
Published 2 months ago by liketoplay
5.0 out of 5 stars great production -- some strange costumes
The performance was excellent and exciting. They took full use of the stage elevators and moved sets and people in and out with alacrity. Read more
Published 11 months ago by David Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully staged Flute, with two outstanding leads.
Finally, a Die Zauberfloete with a real touch of magic!
The staging is imaginative and thoughtful, with good masonic imagery and sumptuous sets, and even with hi-tech effects... Read more
Published 22 months ago by Abert
5.0 out of 5 stars A Tamino I can live with anytime!
I recently purchased this DVD having never watched this opera before. To my surprise I enjoyed it tremendously. Read more
Published on May 12, 2011 by V.J. Williams
3.0 out of 5 stars Well performed, but...
This is an excellent traditional performance. It is traditional in staging as well as singing, but it isn't a patch on the marvellous Colin Davis interpretation, where Simon... Read more
Published on April 26, 2009 by Teacup
5.0 out of 5 stars Die Zauberflote: a Magical Production
Why do we purchase a DVD copy of an opera? Because opera cannot be fully enjoyed by just listening to the music; we must also delight the eyes, hence the importance of the sets,... Read more
Published on March 14, 2009 by Cy Reese
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best Productions Ever
Why is it so good? Well, it's French for one. Americans tend to detest the French, but...gah, when you see things like this, you can't help but understand why they are so snooty. Read more
Published on December 18, 2007 by Ernest Alba
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