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2002, Salzburg Felsenreitschule, Zauberflöte

Die Zauberflöte

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Composer : Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Librettist : Emanuel Schikaneder
Venue and Dates : Felsenreitschule in Salzburg
29 July, 1, 3, 5, 9, 11, 13, 17, 21, 25, 27 August 2002
Conductor : Bertrand de Billy
Production and designs : Achim Freyer
Performers :
Sarastro : Alfred Reiter (29 July – 9 August)
René Pape (11- 27 August)
Tamino : Rainer Trost
Speaker : Wolfgang Schöne
Priests : Markus Eiche and Dietmar Kerschbaum
Queen of the Night : Diana Damrau
Pamina : Barbara Bonney
First Lady : Anja Harteros
Second Lady : Katharina Kammerloher (29 July – 21 August)
Heidi Brunner (25, 27 August)
Third Lady : Katharine Goeldner
Papagena : Martina Janková
Britta Stallmeister (5th August)
Papageno : Simon Keenlysidepapageno-salzburg10_1_
Monostatos : Robert Wörle
First Armed Man : Torsten Kerl
Second Armed Man : Dan Dumitrescu
First Slave : Henryk Antoni Opiela
Second Slave : Lajos Kovacs
Third Slave : Pavel El-Hamalawi
Three Boys : Soloists of the Toelzer Knabenchor
Chorus of the Vienna State Opera
Vienna Philharmonic

Notes :

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Soundbites

Extract from Silvia Luraghi’s “Letter from Salzburg 2002” for Opera Japonica

Seen on August 17, the performance was dominated by Simon Keenlyside, a cheerful and lively Papageno, who ran and jumped around the stage dressed as a clown, and was vocally perfect. Also very convincing was the young Diana Damrau as the Queen of the Night, who delivered her two arias apparently without any effort at the top. René Pape was an authoritative Sarastro, and Rainer Trost a very effective Tamino. As Pamina, Barbara Bonney conveyed a deep feeling of dreamy melancholy, while Martina Janková was a delicious Papagena. The orchestra of the Vienna State Opera was securely conducted by Bertrand de Billy. “

The Times, August 2002

“… The Magic Flute came as a relief. It’s good to be reminded of the other things opera is good for: its life-affirming qualities, its occasional insistence that love conquers all and the world is OK. Achim Freyer’s Big Top setting was a roaring success, indulging the opera’s childlike naivety without damaging its profundities.

The show was stolen by Simon Keenlyside’s Papageno, an all-singing, all-dancing, all-tumbling dynamo in PapagenoSalz440-gallon trousers: comic timing, stagecraft and vocal class in spades. Despite haring around the ring, riding an amazing bike contraption and fooling about with his magic bells, only he (and Barbara Bonney’s Pamina) managed to keep up with Bertrand de Billy’s frantic tempi seem remotely possible.

He took the score at such a lick that it blew away many of the opera’s most poignant moments. Still, the boundless charm of the performance and production was irresistible: Bonney’s wonderfully limpid Pamina and Tamino (a rather pinched Rainer Trost) as a vulnerable Pierrot and Pierrette, dancing monsters and panto Turks, Monostatos receiving his 77 stripes from Sarastro’s lions, Diana Damrau’s monstrous Queen of the Night. A glorious evening.

The New York Times, 21st August 2002

The Berlin-based director Achim Freyer conceived, staged and designed the sets and costumes for “Die Zauberflöte.” Presented in the spacious Felsenreitschule, which once housed a riding academy, the production turns Mozart’s fairy tale of young Prince’s Tamino’s quest for wisdom into a circus of the bizarre. It’s the Salzburg Festival’s operatic one-upping of “The Lion King.”

PapagenoSalz2 A troupe of actors from the Freyer Ensemble portray a wondrous menagerie of exotic animals and otherworldly creatures. Tamino and his beloved Pamina are Pierrot-like figures in whiteface. Papageno is a circus clown with a pointy red nose and puffy pants. As the Queen of the Night’s temper rises in her aria of rage over the capture of Pamina, her daughter, the Queen rises, too, until she nearly reaches the roof of the theater, a surreal figure with an elongated red dress. Singers descend from on high; objects fly by and get sucked into the wings; when Tamino and Pamina endure their trial by fire, they walk a real flaming plank.

It’s all quite amazing. Still, the simple humanity of the characters gets covered over by face paint and stage tricks. For example, when Sarastro sings his aria of comfort to Pamina, he appears as a huge inflated torso with gargantuan hands that reach on to the stage from the wings to caress the distraught girl. Protruding from the gaping neck of this distant vision is the head of the singer, René Pape. Though Mr. Pape is a stupendous bass, he is also an arresting performer when allowed to be. Here, placed far back onstage, he seems a puny-headed adornment to a parade float.

Despite the acrobatic demands placed on them, the excellent cast members sang impressively: the sweet-toned soprano Barbara Bonney as Pamina, the dazzling coloratura soprano Diana Damrau as the Queen of the Night and the bright tenor Rainer Trost as Tamino. The rich-voiced, engaging baritone Simon Keenlyside was the bird-catcher Papageno. Mr. Keenlyside sang with incredible stamina, considering that he spent the night turning pratfalls, climbing poles, racing down the thick rim of the orchestra pit and finally leaping into a pool. The conductor, Bertrand de Billy, drew a lithe, crisp and supple performance from the Vienna Philharmonic.

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Extracts from Der Tagesspiegel, 7th August 2002  (Sybill Mahlke)

Metamorphosis !

Salzburg Festival: After five years Achim Freyer still restores innocence to Mozart’s “Magic Flute”
”… A new Papageno enters: Simon Keenlyside, flexible baritone and acrobat at that. On his magical bike he leaves together with the mother of his numerous children…”

“… No lover will listen more dearly to his Pamina than this Tamino imitating her movements, no gourmet will press two glasses of red wine of the Gods to his chest more merrily than this Papageno…”

Extract from El Pais, 31st July 2002 (Juan Ángel Vela del Campo)

Freyer builds bridges with “The Magic Flute”

“…Simon Keenlyside who performs both vocally and theatrically an absolutely extraordinary Papageno reaches the “Salzburg level” straight away…”

Extracts from the Kurier, 30th July 2002 (Gert Korentschnig)

There are new dreams, laughter and wonder

“Magic Flute” is back to town

“…And Papageno with his Papagena are still hilarious. Even if parts of the production that was premiered in 1997 are worn out a little already…”
”… Whereas Simon Keenlyside’s comedian and vocally entrancing Papageno who jumps into a paddling pool with his Papagena (Martina Jankova) is excellent…”

Extracts from Salzburger Nachrichten, 31st July 2002 (Laszlo Molnar)

Circus games for the emotions

“…Simon Keenlyside as Papageno is fully on the credit side of this production. Actually he has the lead. How agile, in every moment a charming and amiable chap, the sensitive clown in a melancholy manner and yet the ray of hope in this magical play…”

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