Metropolitan Opera 2016-17 Preview: Mozart’s ‘The Magic Flute’ Returns For Holiday Run

By David Salazar

Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” returns to the stage of the Metropolitan Opera on Tuesday at 7:30 for a run of seven performances.

The Opera

Mozart’s last opera premiered on Sept. 30, 1791 at Schikaneder’s theatre, two months before the composer’s untimely death. Originally titled “Die Zauberflote” and sung in German, the work has been a popular fixture among younger audiences for its imaginative setting and music. The music most famous numbers center on the Queen of the Night and Papageno.

The Met’s popular abridged version of the classic fantasy opera will be sung in English in a celebrated production by Julie Taymor. As part of the holiday festivities, the Met will offer two performances at noon on Dec. 29 and 30 with families being offered the opportunity to meet with Met artists and craftspeople. According to the Met’s website, activities include a “‘dress-up’ station featuring child-friendly costume pieces; an instrument show-and-tell with members of the orchestra; a live demonstration by the Met scenic artists who create props and set elements for all of the company’s productions; and a lighting display by the Met’s electrics department.”

The performance is estimated to run approximate 102 minutes with no intermission.

The Performers

The role of Pamina will be shared by Janai Brugger and Caitlyn Lynch. The former gets six performances on Dec. 20, 23, 26, 30 and Jan. 2 and 5. Lynch gets the performance on Dec. 29.

Famed coloratura soprano Jessica Pratt takes on the role of the Queen of the Night for four performances on Dec. 20, 23, 29 and Jan. 5 while Kathryn Lewek takes on the antagonistic role on Dec. 26, 30 and Jan. 2.

Tenor Ben Bliss plays Tamino throughout the run. The same goes for Christopher Maltman, who previously sang Puccini’s “Manon Lescaut” at the Met with Anna Netrebko in November.

Shenyang takes on the role of the speaker while Morris Robinson plays Sarastro.

Notable Recordings 

The Metropolitan Opera released a DVD in 2011 of this very production starring Nathan Gunn, Matthew Polanzi and Rene Pape.

Aside from that it is difficult to find any other version in English with the vast majority of the work’s historical renditions in the original German.

Among those are a legendary recording under the baton of Otto Klemperer that features an all-star cast comprised of Nicolai Gedda, Gundula Janowitz, Walter Berry, Lucia Popp, Elizabeth Schwarzkopf and Christa Ludwig.

Karl Bohm’s famed version includes Evelyn Lear, Roberta Peters, Lisa Otto, Fritz Wunderlich and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau.

A recent version by Claudio Abbado has also achieved solid reviews. That rendition includes Rene Pape, Erika Miklosa, Dorothea Roschmann and Christopher Strehl.

For those interested, there are also two prominent film versions from major filmmakers. Ingmar Bergman adapted arguably the most famous opera adaptation of all time while Kenneth Branagh also provided his own vision to the legendary opera with a cast that includes Joseph Kaiser and Rene Pape.