Tag: opera

Die Zauberflöte

Tuesday, November 6th, 2007 | All Things, Arts, Music

At the Metropolitan Opera House tonight with HYB for Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute). Mozart’s final opera is the tenth most frequently performed opera in North America. I’d seen a fairy-tale-like production (with Andrew Porter’s English translation) at the New York City Opera across the plaza a few years ago; this season, the Met brought back Broadway and film director Julie Taymor’s 2004 production.

Set in an imaginary Egypt, the action revolves around a prince and princess overcoming adversity to unite. Along the way, there is a bird-catcher, a high priest, a moor, serpents, beasts, assorted royal attendants and genii and perfunctory ordeals by water and fire. No ninjas, though. It’s all fairly ridiculous, but the music remains sublime. Taymor’s staging features an incredible variety of figures swirling the stage; I especially liked the flying birds, giant kite-like dancing bears and the magnificent star-shimmering Königin der Nacht (Queen of the Night). The puppet animals were created with the input of Michael Curry, who also designed the award-winning creatures for The Lion King on Broadway, adding to the feel of spectacle on the kaleidoscopic, mirror-lined stage.

Not everyone’s a fan, though. Three years ago, New York Times critic Anthony Tommasini found Taymor’s production to be a mishmash of imagery, so cluttered with puppets, flying objects and fire-breathing statues that it overwhelmed Mozart’s music. His review this year focused on 36-year old German soprano Diana Damrau‘s impressive turns in her dual roles as the Queen of the Night and Pamina during the Met’s Die Zauberflöte run–a feat never before attempted at the opera house in a single season. This night Damrau inhabited the ingénue role; after this season, she will be retiring her Queen, one of the most difficult roles in the standard coloratura repertoire, with its two relatively short, but flashy arias O zittre nicht, mein lieber Sohn” (Oh, tremble not, my beloved son) and the famously treacherous Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen” (The vengeance of Hell boils within my heart). The role, which amounts to just about twelve minutes of stage time, demands five staggeringly high F6’s–a fourth above “Soprano C,” and the highest note in the standard operatic range.

The Magic Flute

Intermission in the Eleanor Belmont Room, a club used by members of the Metropolitan Opera Guild. We were there courtesy of SYB’s guest passes; the private lounge is otherwise only made available for pre-performance dining and intermission coffee and cocktail service for Contributing Level (or higher) Met Guild donors.

Belmont Room

On the Plaza, “it’s sew time”: the launch party for Season 4 of Bravo’s Project Runway. Ever since Top Chef ended its run last month, Project Runway has become my favorite reality show on television right now. The Daily News breaks down the reasons for Runway’s superiority, including “Contestants actually have to do things that take – gasp! – talent,” (the “talent” being something other than, say, “knowing how to snag a man” or “losing 80 pounds“), “It’s just so incredibly gay,” and finally “Who are we kidding? Can there ever really be a full explanation for love?

Project Runway tent

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