MOZART: Die Zauberflöte (Salzburg Festival 1964)
Opera lovers rejoice! Courtesy of VAI we have these three Mozart performances from the Salzburg Festival, memorable interpretations by some of the finest singers of the time, captured in their prime, with a scattering of American singers in leading roles: Roberta Peters' stunning Queen of the Night, Evelyn Lear's Cherubino, and Reri Grist's Blonde. Of particular interest is are the conductors. Ferenc Fricsay was to conduct Figaro but he died and at the last minute the thirty-three year old Lorin Maazel was chosen; although he had conducted in Bayreuth in 1960, he had little other opera experience, but led a dynamic performance of Figaro. Fricsay also was to conduct The Magic Flute; he was replaced by a young István Kertész, a favorite in German opera houses, who drowned a decade later. It is a pleasure to watch him conduct. Zubin Mehta (b. 1936) also was quite young, but already recognized as a Mozart specialist in Vienna. No far-out shenanigans in these productions: Giorgio Strehler directed Seraglio, Otto Schenk the others. Sometimes staging looks rather bare, but it's the music and singing that count, and obviously everyone is having a great time. The black and white photography is OK for the time, as is the mono sound. Mozart opera lovers won't want to miss these important documents.
R.E.B. (June 2010)