[Met Performance] CID:171000

New Production

Die Zauberflöte
Metropolitan Opera House, Thu, February 23, 1956

Debut : Madelaine Chambers, Henry Arthur, John Frydel, Hal Roberts, Leo Kerz

In English

Die Zauberflöte (121)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart | Emanuel Schikaneder
Lucine Amara

Brian Sullivan

Queen of the Night
Roberta Peters

Jerome Hines

Theodor Uppman

Laurel Hurley

Paul Franke

George London

First Lady
Heidi Krall

Second Lady
Madelaine Chambers [Debut]

Third Lady
Sandra Warfield

Emilia Cundari

Rosalind Elias

Margaret Roggero

James McCracken

Osie Hawkins

Albert Da Costa

Louis Sgarro

Henry Arthur [Debut]

John Frydel [Debut]

Hal Roberts [Debut]

Bruno Walter

Herbert Graf

Harry Horner

Lighting Designer
Leo Kerz [Debut]

Translation by Ruth and Thomas Martin
Die Zauberflöte received eight performances this season.

Review 1:

Review of Irving Kolodin in The Saturday

After almost as many tribulations as beset the hero of the opera itself Bruno Walter finally brought forth a "Magic Flute" at the Metropolitan which will be remembered--musically-as one of the notable happenings of the composer's bicentennial celebration.

Obviously picked to provide as harmonious a blend of sounds as the theatre affords (keeping in mind the requirement of the English text), the cast ended up by being not merely all-American but predominantly Californian...Among those born or reared there musically, were Theodore Uppman, Jerome Hines, George London, Lucine Amara, and Brian Sullivan.

The pride of place to Uppman is no accident, for he handled the vocal requirements of his role with practiced assurance, while offering a dramatic impersonation alternately foolish and touching, but always appealing. Since Papageno is very much the humane heart of this sometimes unduly symbolic affair, it is a matter of some moment that he be convincing. This Uppman was, whether as braggart or craven, the romantic one longing for a Papagena or the prosaic one primarily interested in his next meal. His voice and the music are eminently compatible, and with a few more performances under his feathered belt he is apt to be a comic delight.

Hines used his voice and bearing to effective ends as Sarastro, London gave weight to the vital if limited part of the High Priest, and Roberta Peters worked diligently at the requirements of the Queen of the Night. It was done within the dynamic limitations of her voice, further limited, no doubt, by the indisposition which caused her to miss the dress rehearsal. But at best it is not likely she would be more than a rhinestone kind of gem in this diadem. One could hear an effort to broaden some effects for more dramatic emphasis, but it is not hers to give. Whose it is, other than Maria Callas's, I couldn't say. Given such a Queen of the Night, Peters might have been a historically fine Papagena; in this cast Laurel Hurley was a pert, assured, and not particularly consequential one.

As a well-wisher for Lucine Amara, I have no hesitation in recognizing the serious effort she applied to her Pamina, the amount of thought and musical care evident in her singing of the part. But Pamina is one of those roles in which a performer, for real believability, must make an impression even before she sings a note. This Miss Amara did not do. What followed was in every way commendable, if neither distinguished nor absorbing. As for Brian Sullivan's Tamino, it had the regal bearing of a lifeguard. Most of the time he sang with too much voice, of not the right texture; when he restrained it to charm the picturesque animals with his voicing of the music of the magical flute all was well-but not for long.

What worked best was the magic of Mozart, artfully willed into existence by Walter. Among the varied treatments possible, Walter's tended to the evocative and "emotional," with a good deal of vigor mingled with a real reluctance to let even one phrase get away from the caressing hand. Others might emphasize the solemnity of the offstage brass or the supernatural overtones. Walter gave discreet weight to thes

Review 2:


Last night's revival of Mozart's "The Magic Flute" at the Metropolitan was as much

a tribute to Bruno Walter as it was to the composer, whose 200th birthday the house was celebrating.

Now in his 80th year, Mr.Walter was invited out of operatic retirement for this new production. Composer and conductor served each other sublimely last night.

If the opera is a hymn to love and brotherhood, Mr. Walter's reading was no less a hymn of affection and veneration to Mozart. The care and thoroughness that went into the music were those of a loving friend.

The production as a whole reflected credit on the Metropolitan. Nothing was spared to capture the wonder and fantasy of the opera. Scenery and costumes caught the note of enchantment, and backdrop projections heightened the mood.

Crocodiles, lions and monkeys heeded the call of Tamino's flute. Enormous dragons glowered. Weird figures floated in the air. A giant lock was clamped tight on windbag Papageno's mouth.

So it went, from magic to magic, from ritual to ritual in a clever, if sometimes static, unfolding of the strange symbolism of this opera that Mozart meant as a glamorized manual of Freemasonry.

This is a unique medley of fantasy and music; at times exalted, at others capricious; farce, romance, and, at least, the threat of tragedy. Mozart put his heart and soul into it. So did Mr. Walter last night.

The singing varied - not the most ravishing of the season, but certainly the most willing. Best of all for comedy, diction, and gusto was Theodor Uppman as the irrepressible Papageno.

Lucine Amara put romantic warmth into Pamina's line, and Laurel Hurley did almost as much for Pagagena. Roberta Peters, looking regal, supplied all the twinkling staccati of the queen of the night, along with a faint trace of cold.

Others who helped the Mozart cause along were Brian Sullivan as Tamino, Jerome Hines as Sarastro, and George London as the high priest. Nobody, however, was exactly dazzling; but then nobody was really bad.

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