Magic Flute

Trivia Question:  The earliest performance of The Magic Flute listed in the Met’s Archives section was in 1900.  What language was it sung in?

I wondered when I saw the announced duration of the opera listed as 1 hr 55 min.  Sure enough, the MetHD Encore started about 7 and we were looking for our car in the parking lot at 9 pm.  There were no intermissions, but even so that seemed awfully short.

I’ve seen Magic Flute several times, but I don’t know it really well.  Even so, I thought as I watched that various scenes seemed shorter than I remembered them.  And granted that the plot is weird at best, it seemed to proceed more abruptly than I remembered it from previous productions.

Interestingly, the scenes of trial by fire and water which could have used some spectacular special effects were cut short and were very perfunctory.

As the three of us drove home afterwards, I opined that we had seen a cut version and that since I couldn’t imagine the Met performing such a thing Live, the Encore version we had just seen must have been edited from the original Live version.

I was right – the opera was abridged.

I was wrong – the ENCORE was not abridged from the LIVE; the live performance itself was abridged.

My source is an article in the New York Times.  Take a look at it.

I agree with Mr. Tommasini more than with his three more youthful companions about the excessive special effects.  Also, I have been spoiled here on the Peninsula by all the good youthful-looking singer-actors/actresses.  I found the appearance of Tamino, Pamina, and Papagena so much at variance with their roles that it was quite distracting.

I was not impressed by the translation.  Despite their varied nationalities (and presumably native languages), I had no complaint with their articulation when singing. But some of them didn’t do so well with the spoken English.   Sarastro sounded a little like a gangster from Brooklyn which was hardly appropriate.

I’ll sum up my reaction by saying, “Wow.  MetHD has sure come a long way in only 3 years!”.  I’m glad I saw it, but if they ever ENCORE it again, I’ll stay home.

Ciao – –


Answer to trivia question:

It was sung in Italian (translator unknown).

This entry was posted in Opera Review and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.