Die Zauberflöte: Karajan

Die Zauberflöte, WA Mozart, 1980 Berlin Performance with H. von Karajan ★★★★★
Heavens to Mergetroyd! I’ve just reviewed a Zauberflöte by Karajan, so why another? Well, they are two totally different performances. The Zauberflöte report below was produced soon after the war, one of Karajan’s first recordings. It is very emotional, sung with greater contemplation and emotion. Conversely, the recording itself is not of today’s standards and sounds like a recording in a box. This recording, now performed by the Berliner Philharmoniker, has brilliance, as though you were sitting in the room with the orchestra and singers. It is performed to perfection, a flawless representation of Mozart at his best. The singers are the best of the best, and every solo or ensemble is impeccable, brilliant, and delightful to listen to. I once owned this performance years ago and got rid of it, giving it to Alan Segall, the kids’ piano teacher. There was something about the performance that somehow didn’t click with me. I’m not sure what I didn’t like about the piece, except that I was searching for a particular performance, one that was the first recording of the Magic Flute that I had ever heard and this one wasn’t it. Well, I have it back now as a cherished member of my record collection. Die Zauberflöte holds a special corner in my heart since it was the first opera that I had ever heard. I was living in Portland, going to college, and two girls from the mid-west, Deb and Amy, suggested we go to an outdoor performance of this opera, held up in Washington Park in Portland, Oregon. It was a beautiful setting, overlooking the city and Mt. Hood. Male hormones may have been a small factor in me enjoying the opera, but it was an unforgettable experience, and I’ve been into opera ever since. If you had to get just one recording of Die Zauberflöte, this would be it. Turn it up and let it rip. One little issue about this recording—I’m not sure why they needed to put it on 3 CDs. It doesn’t matter when you immediately rip it to mp3 like I do, and then listen to it on iTunes. True, they included all of the spoken dialogue, nice (for me) since I can understand the German.