Koskie Die Zauberflöte

I finally had a chance to catch this production at Lincoln Center and was delighted to be able at attend and see Aaron Blake’s Tamino. This production is hugely successful and has been around the globe, so I was excited to finally see what all the fuss was about. I had seen many photographs, so had a good idea of the aesthetic and the basic idea. It did not disappoint. It is very ambitious technically and was beautifully executed, well sung and played by the orchestra with Louis Langree conducting.

As with most productions of Die Zauberflöte, I was largely unmoved and it got me thinking “Why?”. In this production, the visual flamboyance pretty much dwarfed the performers and, not surprisingly, the emotion on the part of the performers was pretty much non-existent. I was more focused on their (impressive) discipline in coordinating their movements with the projected imagery.

Maybe it’s the piece. Except for “Ach, ich fühl’s” I rarely find myself feeling for any of the characters. Maybe it’s me. I don’t know, but I suspect it has something to do with the dramaturgical complexity, stylistic schizophrenia and episodic structure of the piece itself. There doesn’t seem to be time to sink into a feeling state with any of the characters.

In a sense, this production reflected (or depicted) the shortcomings I feel exist with the piece itself. I might even say it capitalized on these shortcomings. The production matched the brilliance of the piece. Though I did not feel much, I was hardly ever bored–and that is saying something for this piece. There were many witty moments and I even laughed at one point–which also never happens to me when I attend this opera.

Die Zauberflöte is like Aïda: you know both are great operas, but there is a hard-to-admit feeling that neither are good operas. One is impressed, but left feeling there is something missing, a slight emptiness remains.

That’s how I felt about this production–and in that sense I felt it addressed the opera very successfully.

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