The Magic Flute

It’s a trifle sad when the most praise a critic can muster after seeing a performance of Mozart’s sublime masterpiece, The Magic Flute, is for the sets and costumes

BY Charlie Richards

January 16 2009 12:00 AM ET

 LA OPERA MAGIC FLUTE BUFFO X390 (PUBLICITY) | ADVOCATE.COM

L’ubica
Vargicova’s Queen of the Night was far worse.
Although she navigated the role’s daunting
coloratura passages without much trouble, much of her
singing was a bit squally and hard on the ear, with almost
no personalization of the role. Her curtain call,
however, elicited much cheering from the crowd -- I
wondered if my comrades in the stalls had heard the
same performance I had.

One of the
established stars of the cast was Nathan Gunn, and he
didn’t disappoint. In the past few years he has
made the role of Papageno something of a calling card,
and he certainly knows how to pull out all the stops
as far as charm. Besides that, Gunn is one of those rarities
in the opera world -- a real sex symbol, and he was
definitely sexy this evening, even through all the
Papageno feathers and makeup. But we expect Gunn to be
wonderful and thus are not surprised when he is. Love those
dimples, though.

Another star in
the cast was Mathias Goerne (also a famous Papageno) in
the relatively small role of the Speaker. As usual, Goerne
sounded sublime, making the most of the few minutes he
had onstage.

But the real
surprise of the evening was Austrian bass Gunther
Groissbock’s Sarastro. Although he seemed to hold
back a bit in the first act finale, his performance
grew in strength after the intermission, and his
“In Diese Heilgen Hallen” was one of the most
beautiful this critic has ever heard. Rich, poignant,
steady in tone, it provided one moment where the magic
of Mozart hit home, a moment to be savored. Groissbock is
one to watch.

Tags: Theater

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