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Mozart: The Magic Flute (Le Concert Spirituel/Niquet)

Mathias Vidal, Florie Valiquette, et al; Le Concert Spirituel; Hervé Niquet (Versailles)

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0
CD_CVS030_Mozart

Mozart
The Magic Flute
Mathias Vidal, Florie Valiquette, Marc Scoffoni, Lisa Mostin, Tomislav Lavoie, Pauline Ferraci; Le Concert Spirituel; Hervé Niquet
Château de Versailles Spectacles CVS 030   142:11 mins (2 discs)

This is a very Gallic Magic Flute. Recorded in Versailles’ theatre, Mozart’s ‘divine pantomime’ is sung in French with Hervé Niquet and Le Concert Spirituel offering those clean-limbed musical textures and attention to instrumental detail that we expect from French musicians on original instruments.

What is lost is any sense of the unfolding drama or even comedy, with Marc Scoffoni’s Papageno struggling to raise more than a polite giggle. The overture’s opening chords are hardly an arresting call to attention, and the tone throughout is often dry and marked by over deliberate tempos. The Queen of the Night’s arias lack that visceral sense of a woman hell bent on destruction, while for Tomislav Lavoie, Sarastro’s noble hymn ‘In diesen heil’gen Hallen’ (En cette auguste enceinte) is a slow march. And as for the Three Boys, prepare for a trio of women.

A mostly French cast sing this Magic Flute with light middle voices and extensive use of head tone. Mathias Vidal is an attractive Tamino who makes the most of the Portrait Aria. Alas, his Pamina (Florie Valiquette) seems to have left her feelings at the stage door in ‘Ach, ich fühl’s’, which ought to melt the stoniest heart. If Olivier Trommenschlager is a Monostatos straight from the pantomine, the Queen of the Night (Lisa Mostin) could borrow some glitter in Mozart’s gravity defying coloratura.

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Christopher Cook