MOVIE: Kenneth Branagh’s the Magic Flute

PArt 1

The magic flute isn’t my favourite opera by Mozart – I love the Marriage of Figaro MORE – but it is lovely and I wasn’t at all kidding when I said I could (COULD, but don’t) sing along to almost every number – and it feels appropriate to talk about this opera as having ‘numbers’ as it’s all aria and duet and it is after all a Singspiel (which looks, sounds, and feels a lot like a musical). The music is so familiar and I don’t think there is an opera that I have heard more often – it’s performed everywhere, all the time and when I was in Berlin 2 years ago over Christmas ALL three of the big opera houses were doing it at once. I suppose it’s like the Nutcracker of opera – so popular, so familiar, and so typical of the form for there is NOTHING more ‘opera’ than the queen of the night’s aria.

I guess it appeals to opera companies trying to bring in more people into the fold as it’s more ‘accessible’ as it has some spoken bits in the vernacular, and there are lots of funny bits. And everybody loves Mozart.  For the WA Opera it certainly was a sensible move to show it, for inspite of their production being nothing new at all, all 6 shows were well attended, and a few sold out – a bankable production if ever there was one, I suppose.

Anyway, this is a film production by Kenneth Branagh that was made in 2006, and is apparently the first motion picture version of the opera specifically intended for cinemas – it’s a very slick production, though I find it a bit costumey and it’s worth noting that of the $27 000 000 budget, it grossed just shy of $2 000 000. Not a bankable production.

edit: Unfortunately the previous video linked which had English subtiles has been removed, but as the opera is sung in english, hopefully this version will suffice – but Let me know if there are any problems with this video. This video is in 2 parts – part 1 is above, part two is at the bottom of the page.
Music – Mozart//Libretto – Emanuel Schikaneder
Director – Kenneth Branagh//Conductor – James Conlon//Translation – Stephen Fry//Producers – Pierre-Olivier Bardet and Simon Moseley//orchestra – Chamber Orchestra of Europe
Joseph Kaiser – Tamino//Benjamin Jay Davis – Papageno//Amy Carson – Pamina//René Pape – Sarastro//Lyubov Petrova – Queen of the Night//Tom Randle – Monostatos//Silvia Moi – Papagena//Liz Smith – Old Papagena//Teuta Koco, Louise Callinan, Kim-Marie Woodhouse – The Three Ladies//William Dutton, Luke Lampard and Jamie Manton – The Three Boys
“Branagh brings a new life to Mozart”
 Part 2