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And so, back to Salzburg 'Felsenreitschule' (1982) where the kids wait excitedly.

To begin with Levine and Ponelle appear on-stage, Boesch introduces himself with Papageno's captivating 'Der Vogelfänger bin ich ja', and after some preliminary banter they enact the scene with Tamino and the serpent [watch and listen -- chapter 4, 10:28-11:36], first with and then without music. Whenever storyteller Boesch jokingly exaggerates or fibs the lights dim and thunder sounds.

Most of all this is an overwhemingly joyful production with Boesch, Ponelle, Levine, Cotrubas [watch and listen -- chapter 14, 42:53-43:55], Schreier and others of the cast taking conspicuous delight in performing for attentive youngsters.

Though Salzburg signed these top vocalists, Ileana Cotrubas, 43 (Pamina), Peter Schreier, 47 (Tamino) and Zdzislawa Donat, 46 (Queen of the Night); energetic baritone Christian Boesch, 41, effectively carries the performance with irresistible naturalness in his three-part role of genial anchorman, persuasive storyteller and Papageno. (Note that In 1986, deeply affected by the Chernobyl (Ukraine) nuclear disaster -- Boesch emigrated to Chile where he began biological farming, and also taught children music.)

Proof of the pudding -- the Austrian children display unwavering concentration from 'Der Vogelfänger ...' to the final highlights; 'Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen' and Mozart's playful 'Pa-Papagena' -- 'Pa-Papageno', 106 minutes later [watch and listen -- chapter 36, 97:54-98:54].

Children in the audience at 'Die Zauberflöte für Kinder'. Screenshot © 1982 ORF
Children in the audience at 'Die Zauberflöte für Kinder'. Screenshot © 1982 ORF

While there's a touch of pantomime in this approach, the Salzburg children appear to be wholly absorbed by the story and music.

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Copyright © 25 December 2007 Howard Smith, Masterton, New Zealand


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