Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Magical 'Flute'

The Magic Flute (Metropolitan Opera HD Live)


High among Peter Gelb’s major accomplishments since taking over the Met Opera two seasons ago: 1) beginning HD transmissions of live productions and 2) starting family-friendly holiday programming. The latest Met DVD release, The Magic Flute, brings both together: this abridged version of Mozart’s masterpiece–in the fanciful, riotously colorful Julie Taymor staging–was shown as part of the Met HD Live series during Christmas week, 2006.

Starring a cast of first-rate singers–including Matthew Polenzani, Nathan Gunn, Rene Pape and Ying Huang–and conducted by James Levine, this one-act Flute distills the essence of Mozart into 110 blissful minutes, and the HD cameras show off Taymor’s singular visual stylings to their full advantage, including her remarkable masks and eye-popping puppets. The quibbles are minor: no backstage interviews and no inclusion of the full-length Taymor Flute. At least we have this new seasonal favorite on DVD.

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