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Die Zauberflöte- René Jacobs

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For anyone who loves Mozart's operas the recent series of recordings by Rene Jacobs are an absolute must. These historically informed performances bring a muscularity and a clarity to the music that is often obfuscated by performances employing large romantic-scale orchestras. Rene Jacobs' recordings have absolutely shaken up the world of Mozart's operas. Earlier operas that were once largely ignored such as La Clemenza di Titto, and Idomeneo Re de Creta are put forth which such clarity of thought and intensity that they are at last recognized for what they are, some of the greatest operas of the time... excepting only Mozart's own later efforts.

Currently I'm listening to the long awaited Jacobs recording of Die Zaubertflote (The Magic Flute), perhaps the most beloved... certainly the most magical and most tuneful of Mozart's operas. The deluxe packaging alone with a beautiful cardboard box with hidden storage panels and a 300+ page book with the full libretto are enough alone to seduce the Mozartian or general opera or classical music lover.

Jacobs takes the work at a brisk pace... perfectly capturing the humor and unabashed joy of this work.

The sound quality... as should be expected of most Harmonia Mundi recordings... is spectacular. The stripped-down orchestrations allows one to hear all of the layers of Mozart's musical composition... even the piano forte continuo. The use of the piano forte continuo lends the music a music hall-like atmosphere... perfectly suited to this great "singspiel"The singers are splendid, if not quite of the caliber of Otto Klemperers recording with Christa Ludwig, Elizabeth Schwarzkopf, Nicolai Gedda, Walter Berry, and Gundula Janowitz, which is the standard by which all others are measured. Jacobs' singers, however are perfectly suited to their roles... and to his manner of performance. Daniel Behle's Tamino has a beautiful, aristocratic tenor. Daniel Schmutzhard has the ideal humorous intonation (and the perfect name ) needed to play Papageno. Marlis Peterson is a sweet and lovely voice to play Pamina... the love interest of the opera.

Of course the ultimate measure of any Magic Flute are the notoriously difficult arias of the Queen of the Night. Lucia Popp may forever own these as unrivaled in her lightness and fluidity:

Although much must be said for Patricia Petibon's recent emotion-laden recording of the Queen of the Night's arias:

The Magic Flute remains one of my most beloved operas... it is quite likely my first choice for as my personal favorite. It was the first opera I ever watched ... in a production from the Vienna State Opera broadcast a good many years ago. It was the first opera I ever took my wife to... with the spectacular and truly magical set and costume designs by Maurice Sendak:

Otto Klemperer's version has long been one of my favorite opera recordings... with perhaps the greatest collection of singers ever amassed for a single production... And now Rene Jacobs new recording stands as the crowning jewel to his historically informed performances of Mozart.

Highly Recommended!