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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Die Zauberflöte
Daniel Behle (Tamino), Marlis Petersen (Pamina), Daniel Schmutzhard (Papageno), Sunhae Im (Papagena), Anna-Kristiina Kaappola (Königin der Nacht), Marcos Fink (Sarastro), Kurt Azesberger (Monostatos), Inga Kalna (Erste Dame), Anna Grevelius (Zweite Dame), Isabelle Druet (Dritte Dame), Konstantin Wolff (Sprecher), Joachim Buhrmann, Konstantin Wolff (2 Priester), Magnus Staveland, Konstantin Wolff (2 Geharnischte), Alois Mühlbacher, Christoph Schlögl, Philipp Pötzlberger (3 Knaben), René Möller, Clemens-Maria Nuszbaumer, Christian Koch (3 Sklaven)
Rias Kammerchor, Akademie Für Alte Musik Berlin, René Jacobs (Conductor)
Recording: Teldex Studio Berlin – 167’13
harmonia mundi #902068.70 – Booklet in French with English and German translations

Even though a recording studio gravitates towards more popular works for varying reasons, it is the interpretation reflecting the conductor’s perception that is key. Here we find Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s penultimate opera, Die Zauberflöte (1791), preserved with its own colorful distinction on this harmonia mundi label.

Belgian native René Jacobs excels beyond his milestone two hundred plus recordings by presenting the flavored fairy tale/mystic work as a Hörspiel in this extravagant Mozart score. harmonia mundi presents an erudite perspective of Die Zauberflöte by approaching the opera with a historical point-of-view. The copious booklet places heavy emphasis on explaining Die Zauberflöte as an opera duplex with its Masonic rituals interwoven into text and musical fabric. This academic reading is a welcome addition to the carefully laid out album. From the opening bars to the closing notes of Die Zauberflöte we’re drawn into the psychological, metaphorical and allegorical aspects of multi characters which keeps the listener absorbed and fulfilled with boundless weight.

The musical artists are carefully selected, many whom have collaborated with Monsieur Jacobs in other works of the Austrian composer. Most singers hail from European origin which adds a touch of innate substance to the venture. The cohesive interpretation of Die Zauberflöte is filled with dramatic leniency, and one will notice the extensive dialogue bridging the arias, duets and choral interludes. Verbal precision is alarmingly real, creating the impression one is watching a theatrical presentation; hence, Mr. Jacob’s ultimate objective.

Tenor Daniel Behle sings Tamino gliding in luscious lyricism while his treasure-to-be, Pamina, is sung by fellow compatriot Marlis Petersen featuring a highly fluid and exactable quality. Anna-Kristiina Kaappola reigns supreme as she delivers her notes effortlessly as The Queen of the Night. Of special note, she tackles the difficult coloratura sections with incredible nimbleness and unabashed ire during her famous aria, “Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen.” Daniel Schmutzhard does a wonderful job turning Papageno into a lustful and loquacious bird catcher. He’s highly entertaining. Papageno’s betrothed Papagena is assigned to Sunhae Im with a pleasing vocal display. Marcos Fink’s Sarastro exudes a priestly grit with his bountiful bass voice. Likewise, Kurt Azesberger has an edge of fire in the singing role of Monostatos.

Recorded at the Teldex Studio of Berlin, harmonia mundi incorporates pictures and graphics from the 2009 Aix-en-Provence Festival production. Supplementing these visual displays are many historic scenes archived from antiquarian productions, bridging old and new. The colored renderings are marvelous. The libretto is outlined in exacting detail, but emphasis is placed primarily (and understandably) on a European audience since the track summaries on this three CD compendium are only written in German. The biographical outlines are informative, but it would have been more coherent had they printed the actual role sung just beneath the profile.

René Jacobs is a preeminent leader in interpreting both sacred and secular music found within the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. One can sense the driving meticulousness he delivers in this recording. In addition to the unabridged libretto, an additional booklet is included which highlights the composer’s venerable discography.

This new harmonia mundi release encompasses many facets that would otherwise be overlooked in Die Zauberflöte, and thoughtfully rendered with respectful tradition. Those seeking a higher level of understanding will want to immerse themselves in this exhilarating recording.

Christie Grimstad




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