The cast of Georg Solti's 1990 recording of Die Zauberflöte is not packed with stars, but the soloists are consistently excellent, so the lack of international fame of most of the singers shouldn't scare off listeners. One standout performance comes from Kurt Moll, a hugely impressive, grave but sympathetic Sarastro, and his resonant voice is ideally situated for the part. Sumi Jo as the Queen of the Night has a large, sumptuous voice that is capable of frightening power as well as the necessary coloratura pyrotechnics, which she tosses off with abandon. Uwe Heilmann as Tamino and Ruth Ziesak as Pamina make a sweet-voiced, ardent, and appealing couple. Michael Kraus has a voice that's heavier than is usual for Papageno, but he playfully deploys it and with lots of character, and he is well matched by Lotte Leitner's Papagena. Heinz Zednik makes an especially vivid and menacing Monostatos. The Three Boys are exceptionally strong, singing with a musicality beyond their years. (Max Cencic, the First Boy, went on to an illustrious career as a countertenor in the early 21st century.) The dialogue is handled gracefully and expeditiously. There is plenty of vocal humor in the singing and the dialogue, but Solti's conducting tends toward the deliberate and earnest side, even when his tempos are quick, so the music rarely soars into the realm of the magical. The Vienna Philharmonic delivers a polished, responsive performance. As is typical of Decca's studio recordings, the engineers are generous in providing appropriate sound effects. The disc of highlights include about half of the music of the opera.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins
|Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), opera, K. 620|