Conductor: Wolfgang Gonnenwein
Director: Axel Manthey
Recording Date: 1992
Place of recording: From the Ludwigsburger Schlossfestspielen
Running Time: 147 min
Picture Format: 4:3
Sound Format: PCM Stereo
Region Code: 2
Release Date: 2001
Menu Languages PAL: German, French, English, Castilian
Subtitle Languages PAL: German, French, English, Castilian
Deon van der Walt, Ulrike Sonntag, Cornelius Hauptmann, Andrea Frei, Thomas Mohr, Patricia Rozario
Chor und Orchester der Ludwigsburger Schlossfestspiele
It was certainly remarkable that only a year after all the Mozart anniversary performances (1991), the Ludwigsburg Castle festival decided on a Magic Flute production. (The premiere of the production recorded here took place on 26 August 1992.) This was no easy task for director Axel Manthey and conductor Wolfgang Gonnenwein. With clear, naïve images combining in a beautiful, dramatic play of colors, Manthey succeeds in teasing out the different aspects of this opera. The larger-than-life symbols (snake, lightning, tree) also help with this.
“This is visually enchanting, yet at the same time avoids overlooking the characters’ frailties; there are really moving moments, and sometimes one holds one’s breath in wonder ( . . . ) That particular Magic Flute note of marvel and surprise is rarely sounded so clearly as here in Ludwigsburg ( . . . ) The conductor Wolfgang Gönnenwein creates real suspense and excitement with music of effervescence and vitality. Avoiding all obsequiousness as well as sentimentality, leaving enough time for Mozart’s heart-tones to calmly unfold and resonate, Gonnenwein gives this Magic Flute an inner tempo, which leaves no place for portentousness.” (Horst Koegler in Opernwelt (“Opera world”))
"The Arthaus label is responsible for some of the best releases in opera DVDs today. Transfers are flawless and the use of optional subtitles a boon...Everybody's second favorite Mozart Opera is presented from the exquisite jewel-box of a theatre within the Ludwigsburg Castle. It is a joyous treat from the festival in 1992...I could not live without all that glorious music, and it sounds marvelous."
Phillip Campbell, Bay Area Reporter, 4 April 2002 (circ. 125,000)
"This is an utterly enchanting production of Mozart's 'The Magic Flute' - one that deserves to be brought to American opera houses for its cartoon-like directness and colorful humor. Despite the abstract nature of Axel Manthey's staging, the story and characters come vividly to life in every scene. Moreover, the musical performance, conducted by Wolfgang Gonnenwein, is exemplary. The soundtrack could indeed be competitive on its own merits if issued solely as an audio CD. I know of few Taminos-live or recorded-superior to that of Dion van der Welt, a strong-voiced Dutch tenor who sings with clarity and high expression and can act to boot. I wouldn't go that far in describing the remainder of the cast, but everyone involved is very good, functioning as a tightly knit ensemble in both musical and dramatic aspects."
Robert Croan, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, November 24, 2001
"In their fidelity to the text and heartwarming simplicity of approach, unforgettable."
Alan Blyth, Gramophone
"Watching this production is akin to finding that one has a free evening to spend in an unfamiliar European town, going to the opera house on spec, enjoying a local ensemble performance of Die Zauberflote, and returning to one's hotel with the feeling that a modest, unpretentious staging has somehow captured the work's essence in a way that eludes many more ambitious ones. Minimalism is the modus operandi, and whether this was prompted by budgetary constraints, it is applied with such imagination here that Mozart's miraculous vision emerges newly minted...everyone is totally inside their part and you can feel each singer living the drama as it unfolds...anyone who would like to see the opera restored to first principles will certainly enjoy this delightful interpretation."
Stephen Pruslin, International Record Review, November 2001