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Papageno has chattered too much and had his mouth padlocked for fibbing. So he becomes incomprehensible to Will Hartmann's Tamino until the Three Ladies liberate him and proceeed to preach the sort of uplift once considered suitable for any girls' public school. They have moreover, as gift to Tamino from the Queen of Night, the magic flute that will aid him in any tight corner. So the search for Pamina begins, with most of the characters under a misapprehension, and the heroine herself victim of unwelcome and persistent addresses from a Monostatos got up to look like an excitable Louis XIV.

A scene from Die Zauberflöte. © Opus Arte
A scene from Die Zauberflöte. © Opus Arte

But the master of all situations is Franz-Josef Selig as Sarastro, wisely relying on the spiritual support of the ancient Egyptian Isis and Osiris, who probably never had such a good time musically as in the hands of Mozart. We know nothing about pharaonic temple music, except that Plato suggests Isis composed all the tunes. I am prepared to wager heavily she never approached the effortless solemnity of Mozart. Sarastro now devises the tests that will gradually bring a strengthened Pamina (Dorothea Röschmann) close to the Tamino who was enamoured of her the moment he saw her portrait and lumber Papageno with an apparent frump of a Papagena.

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Copyright © 10 April 2008 Robert Anderson, Cairo, Egypt


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