SFO’s ‘Visually Stunning’ Magic Flute
by Christie Connolley
San Francisco is cranking out the hits. Last week we featured a great review on their production of Nixon in China and today there are more raves for the Magic Flute. Check out this review by Richard Scheinin of Mercury News in the Operagasm Review Rundown!
A la Seinfeld: “There is no denying the imaginative power of this high-tech “Magic Flute,” sung in English to a new translation by David Gockley, the company’s general director. Fanciful and bursting with color — a perfect candidate for 3-D streaming to movie theaters — it is a grand confection, but with mixed results, leaning toward the cutesy and clever; Mozart as sit-com.”
Magic Flute on acid: “Mozart’s opera is many things: bawdy, whimsical, magical — but delving, too, into death and darkness. This “Flute” does best with whimsy and magic. Kaneko’s design — encompassing sets, projections, costumes, lighting and many dancing animals — creates a delightful magical landscape. It’s like entering “Alice in Wonderland” through the keyhole of a Mondrian painting, with side trips to a Japanese temple. (The sinister priest Sarastro, who abducts Pamina, resembles a Lewis J. Carroll tyrant, transported to a mythic Kyoto palace).”
Propers: “It boasts some appealing singing, but only one marvelous performance, that of soprano Heidi Stober as the princess Pamina. Her voice is more than beautiful; she penetrates Mozart’s depths.”
And my beloved?: “I wish Gockley hadn’t fed baritone Nathan Gunn (as Papageno) lines like these: “I’m more of a lover than a fighter” and “Brotherhood shmotherhood; I didn’t ask for these tests.” In the midst of his quest, Gunn — full-voiced, but blandly chipper — seemed to impersonate witless Steve Martin in “The Jerk.”