Barcelona’s Reasonably Magical Flute

SpainSpain Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Die Zauberflöte: Soloists, Symphony Orchestra and Chorus Gran Teatre del Liceu, Pablo González (conductor), Liceu, Barcelona, 26.4.2012 (JMI)

Coproduction Barcelona’s Liceu and Coruña’s Mozart Festival

Direction: Joan Font
Sets and Costumes: Joan Guillén
Lighting: Albert Faura


Pamina: Susanna Phillips
Tamino: Pavol Breslik
Papageno: Joan Martín-Royo
Queen of the Night: Erika Miklósa
Sarastro: Georg Zeppenfeld
Monostatos: Vicenç Esteve Madrid
Papagena: Ruth Rosique
Three Ladies: María Hinojosa, Anna Tobella, Inés Moraleda
Speaker: Tobias Schabel

Picture courtesy Barcelona’s Liceu, © Antonio Bofill

Barcelona’s Liceu put Mozart’s Magic Flute on stage again, in a small run of three performances and at lower than usual prices. It is a revival of Joan Font’s (of the Spanish theater company Els Comediants) production which premiered at the Liceu in the 1998-99 season and was repeated the following two seasons. In a few weeks it will be travelling to Pamplona with a slightly different cast.

The production is halfway between the Masonic aspects of the plot and pure comedy, driven by Papageno’s character. The sets are attractive and efficient, allowing rapid scene changes, which is very important in this opera. Costumes are well suited, traditional for the priests, imaginative for the world of the Queen of the Night, colorful for the ‘Papageni’, and rather too simple for Herr Tamino. The direction works fine, albeit not very convincingly for the fire and water trials. With the exception of Papageno the singers were static on stage, as if rehearsals had been scarce. The audience enjoyed it.

available at Amazon
W. A. Mozart, Die Zauberflöte,
C. Abbado / Mahler Chamber Orchestra
D.Röschmann, C.Strehl, H.Müller-Brachmann, J.Kleiter, R.Pape, E.Miklósa

Pablo Gonzalez conducted his orchestra and disappointed to some extent: he was long on control, but short on inspiration. A particularly flat, boring first act was improved upon with a second act with several fine moments, especially the accompaniment of Pamina’s aria. The orchestra was not better than what we usually get from Liceu’s pit.

American soprano Susanna Phillips was an excellent Pamina. Her voice is attractive and she knows how to use it, as she proved in an outstanding, exquisitely tasteful rendering of “Ach, ich fühl’s”. The only quibble: her high notes do not have the quality of her middle range.

Pavol Breslik was a good Tamino, but more can – and should – be expected from him. His acting was routine and his voice did not reach the level that we are used from this excellent tenor. I was expecting a reference Tamino, and merely got above average.

Joan Martin-Royo stole the show as Papageno, as any good interpreter of this role should. He was excellent both singing and acting. Georg Zeppenfeld was a pleasing Sarastro, singing with gusto and interpretative authority. His voice is not huge, but remarkable.

Albina Shagimuratova had to cancel her Queen of the Night and was replaced by Erika Miklósa – sadly our loss. Ms. Miklosa’s voice is significantly lighter than her colleague’s and her top notes are much tighter than they were just a few years back when she was Claudio Abbado’s Queen of the Night for DG.

Vicenç Esteve Madrid’s Monostatos andRuth Rosique’s Papagena were fine additions to the cast, while Tobias Schabel was at least a serviceable Speaker. The three ladies convince me neither with their singing nor acting.

Jose Mª Irurzun