Who needs four Magic Flutes?

Berlin, apparently.

Each of the German capital’s opera houses has a signature production of the Mozart crowd-pleaser. Barenboim’s Staatsoper unter den Linden has just launched another version, to run in tandem with August Everding’s classic production in Schinkel’s original stage design.

First reviews slate Yuval Sharon’s new show as an unmitigated disaster, but it could have a good outcome. Questions are being asked – finally – about the degree of duplication and the lack of coordination between Berlin’s manifold musical institutions. It’s chaos out there.

They need to instal something like London’s clash system.

UPDATE: Shirley Apthorp in the FT:

Sharon’s idea is that the whole thing is a marionette show presented by children. The singers hang on strings, move jerkily, fly through the air; the dialogue is spoken by pre-recorded offstage children’s voices. It is technically complex, utterly incoherent and musically fatal. Even if the singers were not obviously terrified, suspended in mid-air, exhausted and apparently able to hear neither the orchestra nor each other, the conducting would have scuppered them….

There are a great many conductors out there with both experience and Mozart expertise who could have taken over for the ailing Franz Welser-Möst. De la Parra floundered from the very first chord. She has no ability to bring shape and tension to a phrase, no sense of which tempi might work for the singers, and no idea what to do when things fall apart — which they do, with appalling frequency.

Read on here.

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  • Who indeed? But German federal and regional governments seem happy to pour money down the drain. I have seen many Magic Flutes and if I don’t see another for 10 years it will be too soon.

    • It’s not only about you. New generations are born all the time who haven’t heard a single Magic Flute yet. (or any other magic music.)
      The connoisseurs always forget, that the majority of classical music consumers are not getting satisfied by only eating at gourmet restaurants anymore, just because the connoisseurs have overeaten on the mainstream ordinary food.
      As long as the more daring programs don’t sell as well, it remains a challenge to balance any season’s program between the uncharted and the well known.

  • To see a Magic Flute appears quite easy these days. To see it done well is exceedingly difficult due to the idiocies of the directors employed.

  • Is four of them enough of a saturation, enough of a distraction that they’ll leave Papageno alone so he can enjoy the simple things in life rather than having to chose, or be choosing sides? And how many Queens of the Night will it take? Four might not be enough to create the overload necessary?

  • Norman, for a link to an English language review detailing the catastrophe – both Yuval Sharon’s production and Alondra de la Parra’s conducting – see the Financial Times.

  • I used to have a book called The Encyclopedia of Graffiti. Some guy hitch-hiked across USA and copied lots of the graffiti he saw in bathrooms and on walls, organized the results, and published them. One entry was:

    “I’ll play the magic flute, and swallow the music”, followed by a telephone number.

  • “They need to instal something like London’s clash system.”

    It’s so great, it became UK’s motto.

    “Should I Stay Or Should I Go” 😀

  • All the reviews published so far are unanimous regarding the catastrophic performance of the instagram conductor Alondra de la Parra.
    I feel bad for the great musicians of the Staatskapelle.

    From the FT review :
    “Apart in from a recent music theatre project in Salzburg, de la Parra had never conducted an opera before. What great mind in the Staatsoper management considered it a fine idea to let a young newcomer make her first attempt in the genre at a much-hyped opera premiere in the national capital?

    There are a great many conductors out there with both experience and Mozart expertise who could have taken over for the ailing Franz Welser-Möst. De la Parra floundered from the very first chord. She has no ability to bring shape and tension to a phrase, no sense of which tempi might work for the singers, and no idea what to do when things fall apart — which they do, with appalling frequency.”

    • The agenda of the decision makers is obvious. It’s everywhere, also in classical music, obviously in conducting. This blog is an instrument for them. In such conditions, the level of the music making is the last priority.

    • we can all hazard a guess as to which ‘great mind’ and if so we probably all know why. Simone Young must have been busy.

  • In London even a small amount of duplication and lack of coordination between companies would be fatal. In Berlin it is not so bad. Attendances are quite decent in each institution. In spite of the chaos, Berlin is the cultural capital of Europe today.

  • Meanwhile, the concert that Alondra de la Parra spurned for taking this “dream gig” – her own orchestra’s Season Opening – received a 5-star review under the baton of Daniel Blendulf. A conductor with some actual technique. It is no secret she cannot conduct opera or ballet (see google).

    It is a shame that someone who cannot keep their technical integrity as a conductor also can’t keep their integrity as a professional with prior commitments. What orchestra is going to want to appoint someone as impulsive and ego-centric as Alondra?

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