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For one thing Ponelle remains onstage throughout and he occasionally intervenes; enabling himself and Boesch to explain operatic terms and requirements -- why use music, the conductor's purpose, a 'coloratura aria' and the like. At one point Ponelle interrupts (wearing a false nose) prompting an exchange that illustrates the director's role.

Among Ponelle's several deft touches the 'drei knaben' -- boys from Gerhard Schmidt-Gaden's (Munich-based) 'Tölzer Knabenchor' -- turn up as three little lookalike Mozarts [watch and listen -- chapter 30, 75:29-76:37].

The multi-function 'Felsenreitschule' stage enabled Ponelle the freedom to manouvre his characters freely, to introduce sets with ease, and to employ effects as required.

Those expecting an uninterrupted Magic Flute with children as spectators should look elsewhere -- that was never the intention. Those hoping to engage the interest of very small English-speaking children should proceed with caution for while the visual interest is strong, an ability to read the subtitles is -- for practical purposes -- mandatory.

The Ponelle-Boesch production may also serve as a primer for interested adults who've little more than a nodding acquaintance with opera and/or The Magic Flute.

Christian Boesch as Papageno. Screenshot © 1982 ORF
Christian Boesch as Papageno. Screenshot © 1982 ORF

Unquestionably a very special production for very special audiences.

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

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Mozart: Die Zauberflöte für Kinder

DVWW-OPMFC DVD9 4:3 NTSC Region 0 LPCM Stereo NEW RELEASE 106' 1982 ORF, 2007 TDK Marketing Europe GmbH

Kurt Rydl, Sarastro; Peter Schreier, Tamino; Zdzislawa Donat,Königin der Nacht; Ileana Cotrubas, Pamina; Edda Moser, Erste Dame; Ann Murray, Zweite Dame; Ingrid Mayr, Dritte Dame; Christian Boesch, Papageno; Gudrun Sieber, Papagena; Horst Hiestermann, Monostatos; Peter Weber, Erster Priester; Horst Nitsche, Zweiter Priester; Christian Spatzek, Sklave; Soloisten des Tölzer Knabenchores; Konzertvereinigung Wiener Staatsopernchor; Walter Hagen-Groll, chorus master; James Levine, conductor; Christian Boesch, concept and script; Jean-Pierre Ponnelle, producer; Brian Large, video and TV director

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791): Die Zauberflöte für Kinder

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