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Mozart: Die Zauberflote (The Magic Flute) Box set

4.2 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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This live Magic Flute is delightfully, lightly led by Claudio Abbado. Even the opera's darker moments---the scenes at the Temple, etc.---are treated nimbly; there's no hint of Otto Klemperer's approach to be found here. The Papageno is somewhat faceless, and while the Queen of the Night sings accurately and delivers her recitatives with real drama, she, too, is not up to the best on discs. But the recording sports the finest Tamino since Stuart Burrows and Fritz Wunderlich in Christophe Strehl, a tenor with both lyricism and plangency built in to his voice. Dorothea Röschmann is a simply glorious Pamina, strong of voice but sensitive and girlish as well, and René Pape's Sarastro sets a new standard. The Three Ladies don't always sing on key. Orchestra and Chorus are superb. Despite these criticisms, the three leads and Abbado are enough to make this a fine recommendation. --Robert Levine
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Product Details

  • Performer: Rene Papé, Erika Miklosa, Dorothea Roschmann, Christoph Strehl, Hanno Muller-Brachmann, et al.
  • Orchestra: Mahler Chamber Orchestra
  • Conductor: Claudio Abbado
  • Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Audio CD (June 13, 2006)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Box set
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • ASIN: B000EGFV2C
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #152,186 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Santa Fe Listener HALL OF FAME on June 13, 2006
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Claudio Abbado may be aging, but he has devoted his new 'Magic Flute' to youth--the leads are mostly rising opera stars, and the pit orchestra is the Mahler Chamber Orch., which is for up-and-coming orchestral players. The fact that Abbado favors period practices makes the score sound fresh and light--there is a marked absence of vibrato in the strings, a prominence of woodwinds, and faster-than-usual tempos (often near the speeds that real period recordings from Norrington, Gardiner, and Christie employ). However, the singers use the same amount of expressive vibrato that we are used to in the opera house. You'll hear some stage noises from these live (and lively) performances from Modena, Italy in Sept. 2005.

For me, the most exciting discovery here is the Tamino, tenor Christoph Strehl, who sounds as ardent as Fritz Wunderlich. Like Wunderlich, Strehl has a melting tone, robust delivery, and an elegant line. His 'Die Bildnis' aria comes off with ease--you'd never guess how treacherous it is for other tenors. Frankly, I haven't heard as good a Tamino since Wunderlich's death in the late Sixties.

The Three Ladies aren't always perfectly in tune, but this is a live performance, and one has to make allowances for how difficult Mozart's vocal writing is. Most German productions treat Papageno as a caricature, but Abbado is rather a sober sides, and Hanno Müller-Brachmann (a standout in Haydn's Creation on Naxos) doesn't go for laughs. I wish he had--Papageno is a fantastic character, after all--and not every aria goes as smoothly as it could, but Müller-Brachmann is certainly quite good.

The two best-known singers in the cast are Dorothea Roschmann as Pamina and Rene Pape as Sarastro.
Read more ›
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The classical recording of The Magic Flute dated back to Boehm/Wunderlich's time. That was almost half a century ago.

Some treacherously difficult arias in this opera made first-rate performance of it difficult.

Claudio Abbado, on the other hand, used a batch of relatively young soloists in this production, and to very good end judging from the overall performance.

I don't want to compare Strehl with Wunderlich, or Mueller-Brachmann with his teacher Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. That's not being fair.

Despite this, the evenness of the soloists' performance outshined that even of Boehm's star-studded cast, especially in the two leading female roles of Pamina and the Queen of Night. Roeschmann and Miklosa are both more secure in tone and more pleasing to the ears.

Rene Pape's Sarastro also shines.

If ever you want to pick some weaknesses in this recording, they come in a couple of ensembles, mainly between the Three Ladies and the Two Armoured Men. However, the quartet between Pamina and the Three Boys are very effective, and Roeschmann gave a very outstanding account with the three youngsters in that ensemble.

I have heard some Taminos since Wunderlich's time, and would not go to the length of comparing Christoph Strehl with Fritz, suffice it that among contemporary Taminos, Strehl's portrayal really stands out. He may not be as lyrical as Fritz, but he does handle the role with apparent vocal ease, some thing clearly could not be taken for granted.

I do not find Roeschmann's tone too mature. This soprano is really coming of age vocally. It is time she consider taking on some even more taxing roles for operatic sopranos. Miklosa hasn't recorded much apart from this role of Queen of Night. I hope she is not those 'one-role' singers.
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I live in Modena, Italy, and I was lucky to see this "Zauberflote" live, at the Teatro Comunale, when it was on stage, last september. During those evenings, the album was recorded. It was an extraordinary experience, really a big show, and I'm happy to re-live again and again, in this album. Don't miss it, especially if you love Claudio Abbado and his magical touch.
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This is a stellar Zauberflote in essentially all respects. The recorded sound is immediate, live and convincing. The orchestral playing is superb, and the vocalists in the aggregate are first rate, with momentary exception. The only recent, competetive Zauberflote of modern instrument variety is Solti's with Sumi Jo as the Queen of the Night. That performance also has a special place in my heart, but this newcomer sits on the shelf next to the Solti recording. There are many other great Zauberflotes, but this one is for the 21st Century.
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For its outstanding popularity over more than two hundred years of having been played by the world's great opera theaters, it is quite puzzling that Die Zauberflöte has not yet received a recording that achieves perfection. Yet, in this 2006 recording from Modena, Claudio Abbado may have achieved just that. While Klemperer, Böhm, and other great Mozart conductors have brought great insight into Mozart's highly philosophical opera, Abbado adds something special that makes listening to this recording all the more a delight compared with several predecessors. It's not just the lean textures that Abbado provides to the score that delineates his work from other conductors. It isn't his wonderfully thought out tempi either, nor is it his keen sense of theatricality that makes his "period" orchestra sound more alive than many "historically correct" recordings of this opera. Abbado is a high priest of music, one who can probe into the intricacies of Mahler, Verdi, Mussorgsky, Beethoven, and Mozart and bring a sense of spirituality that eludes many of today's best conductors. For a score that incorporates Mozart's quasi-spiritual beliefs, it goes to say that no other conductors is perhaps more fit to the job than Claudio Abbado. All the other elements of his conducting style just fall naturally into place and make an experience that is otherwordly and unique. Listen to the overture alone...those clean textures are only supported by his ability to make the many triplet/Masonic themes jump out of the page. His invocation of the different characteristics of the principals like Pamina's nobility, Tamino's heroism, the Queen's spiteful vehemence, Papageno's carefree spirit, and Sarastro's benevolence and wisdom is clearly laid out for the listener.Read more ›
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