Die Zauberflöte, K620
David Portillo, Sofia Fomina, Bjorn Burger, Brindley Sherratt; Glyndebourne Chorus; Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment/Ryan Wigglesworth; dir. Barbe & Doucet (Glyndebourne, 2019)
Opus Arte DVD: OA1304D Blu-ray: OABD7268D 164 mins
Producer/designer duo Barbe and Doucet confront the racism and the sexism that contemporary audiences have detected in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte. Though whether Vienna’s Hotel Sacher at the beginning of the 20th century, where Sarastro as the head chef appears to have wrested ownership of the establishment from the widow Sacher, aka The Queen of the Night, a suffragette fighting for votes for women, was the best place to play out Tamino and Pamina’a journey to correct thinking is another matter. In the first half, André Barbe’s exquisitely drawn and then enlarged interiors magic the eye, and the cut-out guests that people the hotel are a delight. But when we reach the trials in the second half, comedy becomes Saturday Night TV with a cookery competition and a washing up tournament replacing the journeys through fire and water.
Many a wayward production of Mozart’s last masterpiece has been rescued by the singers, and Glyndebourne fields a decent cast for this production. David Portillo is a diffident Tamino, who discovers an inner steel and is well matched vocally by Sofia Fomina’s Pamina, though there is more to the role than simply singing beautifully. Björn Bürger’s cheeky chappie Papageno excels at broadbrush comedy, while Caroline Wettergreen’s Queen of the Night produces a top note in her opening aria that surely shattered every Glyndebourne champagne flute. And is there a more satisfying Sarastro around at present than the magnificent Brindley Sherratt? Ryan Wigglesworth keeps the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment on their Mozartian toes.