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Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus: Magic Flute Cartoon (DVD) 1994/2005 OperaVox

Mozart: Operavox – The Magic Flute cartoon (DVD)

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One of six 30 minute adaptations of operas set to animation

Composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
English translation by Jeremy Sams
Conductor Director
Voices of
Tamino: Neil Archer
Pamino: Alwyn Mellor
Sarastro: John Connell
Queen of the Night: Jennifer Rhys-Davies
Papageno: Simon Keenlyside
Papagena: Rebecca Evans
(Actors voice the spoken dialogue)
The Orchestra and Chorus of Welsh National Opera
Recording details Recorded by SC4 and BBC Bristol, 1994
Label Image Entertainment / Metrodome Distribution Ltd
Released 4 April 2000. Re-released 25 April 2005
Technical details The original DVD can be played in all Regions; the re-release is Region 2 and so may not be viewable outside Europe.
ASIN B00004S89D (original) / B00070G73M (re-release)

What the critics say

Excerpts from DVD Times (Anthony Nield)

Two years after the success of their well-respected Shakespeare :  the Animated Tales series, S4C and BBC Bristol attempted to repeat the formula with Operavox. As with those various takes on Julius Caesar, et al, an individual opera is truncated to a running time of approximately 28 minutes and rendered in animated form, the remit being that such an approach should gain the interests of a wider audience not versed in the nuances of the opera form, specifically those of school age. It’s an admirable concept especially as opera rarely makes its way out of the opera house save for the occasional TV broadcast or big screen adaptation (though in the past decade only versions of Madame Butterfly and Tosca have reached British cinemas). That said, the manner in which the makers of this series (many of whom are veterans of Shakespeare : The Animated Tales) have gone about their adaptations is not always a successful one.

Understandably when editing down a full-length opera to a running time that just escapes the 30-minute mark, the full intentions of the original composer are never going to be completely met. And certainly, the versions which make up Operavox – Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, Bizet’s Carmen, Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Wagner’s The Rhinegold, Verdi’s Rigoletto and Puccini’s Turandot – could never consider themselves to be definitive…

…As each piece cannot be expected to replicate their sources’ intended dramatic weight, it is the quality of the animation which proves more important to their overall successes. Again, as with the previous Shakespeare adaptations, a number of differing styles are employed with each opera being served by a different crew and director. The stylistic choices are largely agreeable and, generally speaking, go well with their respective tales: the claymation of The Barber of Seville works well in relation to its comedic aspects, for example; Carmen’s use of rotoscoping enhances the human drama; the 2D animation of The Magic Flute and The Rhinegold recalls such 80s TV series as Dungeons and Dragons and Thundercats and as such emphasises the underpinning fantastical elements. Indeed, the television connection is important as, of course, Operavox started out as a TV series and therefore brings with it certain, less than favourable qualities. Firstly, it is obvious that the filmmakers have been working to a time limit, meaning that the level of detail in the animation is not perhaps as it could have been. And secondly, the voice cast employed for the speaking parts (the Welsh National Opera provide the main vocal talent without complaint) have the blandness of their kids’ cartoon equivalents in as much as they demonstrate little in the way of true character, have voice that rarely suit their on-screen counterparts and have a tendency to over-enunciate every single word in a manner that proves more than a little patronising…

Excerpts from reel.com (Marc Fortier)

Three out of four stars

At first, blending opera and animation seems like a winning approach to reinvent “high art.” The BBC-produced Operavox largely succeeds in this endeavor, bringing a unique accessibility to traditional opera, if occasionally snubbing purists with its unconventional handling of the classics.

Operavox compiles six, animated films set to half-hour adaptations of famed operas. Featured are Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” Wagner’s “Das Rheingold,” Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville,” Bizet’s “Carmen,” Puccini’s “Turandot,” and Verdi’s “Rogoletto.” All episodes are performed by the Welsh National Opera.

Styles vary from piece to piece, as all but two were created by different production studios. The character designs rarely cater to a younger audience, prioritizing aesthetics rather than defaulting to bright colors and cutesy woodland creatures. And despite the obtrusive warning sticker on the cover, none of the episodes are shamelessly graphic. The sumptuously produced, “stop-motion” animated “Rigoletto” is the least kid-appropriate, with its occasionally risque depictions of assorted debauchery.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Kynjara February 15, 2012 at 12:50 pm

I would like to purchase this DVD. Is there anywhere you know of in Australia that I may buy one?

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