Review: 'Magic Flute' Welcomes Kids to the Met

It is always heartwarming to see many enthusiastic children in the audience when the Metropolitan Opera presents its family version of M...


It is always heartwarming to see many enthusiastic children in the audience when the Metropolitan Opera presents its family version of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” during the holidays.

But when the business reopened in September, their return was uncertain. The Met, which since the start of its season has required everyone who enters to be vaccinated, has de facto banned children under 12, who were not eligible for vaccines.

When eligibility widened at the end of October, the door was open for the kids to come back. And they did it on Friday, at Julie Taymor’s fantasy production – reduced to just under two hours without an intermission and performed in the catchy JD McClatchy film. English adaptation.

The performance benefited from a winning cast and brilliant orchestral playing, conducted with elegance and insight by Jane Glover. I have long been in the minority to find Taymor’s stylized and puppet-filled staging too busy – too inventive for its own good. But the audience applauded every stage touch and turn on the stage, including some of the kids near me, though there didn’t seem to be many of them overall. (The company also offers an abbreviated English version of “Cinderella” by Massenet which opens on Friday.)

From the melting love tune Prince Tamino sings at the start, tenor Matthew Polenzani – who sang the role when this production premiered in 2004 – was in a warm, fiery voice. When researcher Tamino trades questions with the Speaker (sturdy bass-baritone Patrick Carfizzi), who oversees the entrance to a Temple of Wisdom, Polenzani’s passionate earnestness gave the scene a somber intensity. And his English diction was a model of clarity.

Pamina, whom Tamino falls in love with, has been beautifully sung by the lavish-voiced soprano Hera Hyesang Park. Pamina’s mother, the Queen of the Night, was soprano Kathryn Lewek, who dispatched her flowery leaps and ultra-high notes with fearless brilliance. Mighty bass Morris Robinson made a towering but trustworthy Sarastro, the spiritual leader of the temple.

In a daring move, tenor Rolando Villazón sang Papageno, the hapless bird catcher – traditionally a baritone role. In one recent interview with the New York TimesVillazón, a star since the early 2000s, has been outspoken about the vocal disturbances and mental setbacks that have almost led to his retirement in recent years. He said in the interview that he believed his voice was fixed. But on Friday, its bass range was weak and uneven, and even its highest notes struggled to adjust at home.

Still, he sang honestly and vigorously, and brought a charming mix of comedic antics and nostalgia to his portrayal of this bumpy character who yearns for love – and finds him, ultimately, with Papagena, here the sun-kissed soprano Ashley Emerson. .

On the podium, Glover balanced warmth and light, breadth and good humor, and rightly received an enthusiastic ovation. When she made him Debut in 2013 in this “Magic Flute” party, she was just the third woman to lead the company. This current race is his first time back.

Glover has worked with the Royal Opera and the Glyndebourne Festival in England, the Berlin State Opera, the Royal Danish Opera and other major houses. Isn’t it time for the Met to use all of their abilities?

The magic flute

Until January 5 at the Metropolitan Opera in Manhattan; metopera.org.

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