Die Zauberflöte at the Met
March 02, 2007
* Notes *
Last Saturday's evening performance of Die Zauberflöte at the Metropolitan Opera was remarkable, though not for the singing. Julie Taymor's untraditional production was elaborate and whimsical, her costumes seemed to have Persian and Japanese influences. The production made ample use of puppetry to good effect. The kite-like fabric puppets were manipulated with rods by people dressed in black, reminiscent of both Wayang and Bunraku. It was entrancing, but the magical atmosphere was not sustained as well in the second half of the opera, which was more subdued.
The sets, designed by George Tsypin, looked space-age Egyptian. The stage moved in a circle, making for easy scene changes. At times it was slightly loud, but the most disruptive part of the set was when curtains were torn from a doorway, the velcro sound was unmistakable. Donald Holder's lighting had some problems against the shiny surfaces, at times I was blinded by reflections.
James Levine was simply amazing, the orchestra sounded perfect and the singers were never off from the music. Unfortunately, the Queen of the Night was ill, poor Cornelia Götz gasped through her two gloriously difficult arias. Her voice sounded stuck somewhere inside her head and she was, at times, flat. Lisa Milne was better as Pamina, her voice was warm and pleasant. Michael Schade was an earnest Tamino and Rodion Pogossov a charming Papageno. Both had perfectly nice voices, but neither was incredible. Bass Vitalij Kowaljow did not have consistent tone for the range of Sarastro, it was difficult to hear his low and high notes. Jennifer Aylmer sang reasonably well as Papagena, but her movements were just perfect as she pretended to be an old hag and when she revealed her true self.
* Tattling *
It seems that no one in the standing room line was there for Die Zauberflöte, so we didn't see any familiar faces from Eugene Onegin. The audience was badly-behaved. People behind us and in front of us spoke aloud during much of the performance. Some standees tried to sit during the middle of the last scene and were reprimanded. The person at standing room place 5 might have had Tourette's Syndrome, for he kept quietly swearing and humming during much of the performance, only stopping to eat candies. The unwrapping of said candies was loud, as was some of the crunching involved. When we did not get out of this fellow's way during the final round of applause, he pushed his way behind us without excusing himself.