The Sunday Times
'This set is the best argument I have heard in ages for the Royal Opera to perform Mozart’s great vernacular Singspiel in English.
Rebecca Evans (Pamina) and Simon Keenlyside (Papageno) sang in Covent Garden’s recent revival, as did John Graham-Hall (Monostatos), and they are even better here in their own language, particularly in Jeremy Sam's witty dialogue...
Singspiel in two acts
Libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder
English translation by Jeremy Sans
Barry Banks, tenor (PMF Scholar) - Tamino
Elizabeth Vidal, soprano - Queen of the Night
Rebecca Evans, soprano - Pamina
Majella Cullagh, soprano - First Lady
Sarah Fox, soprano - Second Lady
Diana Montague, mezzo-soprano - Third Lady
Simon Keenlyside, baritone (PMF Scholar)
Lesley Garrett, soprano - Papagena
John Tomlinson, bass - Sarastro
John Graham-Hall, tenor - Monostatos
Christopher Purves, bass
- Speaker, Armed Man, First Priest
Peter Bronder, tenor - Armed Man, Second Priest
Geoffrey Mitchell Choir
London Philharmonic Orchestra
Sir Charles Mackerras - conductor
Recorded in Leeds Town Hall 5-6 June 2005
Producer - Brian Couzens,
Sound engineer - Ralph Couzens,
Assistant engineer - Michael Common
Mackerras, who conducted, is perhaps the world’s wisest and most inquiring Mozartian, and here he gets playing of magical transparency from the LPO, highlighting the wind solos and bringing a sense of wonder to the music now rarely experienced in the theatre. As at Covent Garden tempi seem on the whole ideally judged, but his brisk “walking pace” for Pamina’s great G minor lament makes you sit up with a jolt. He justifies it in the booklet, and Evans sings it ravishingly.
It is good to have Keenlyside’s wonderfully human Papageno preserved on disc, and John Tomlinson’s authoritative Sarastro and Barry Banks’s lyrical Tamino are superior to their German-language RO counterparts. Elisabeth Vidal is a fiery Queen of the Night, only betraying her French nationality in her slightly accented dialogue.'
hn Tomlinson is in such fine voice, his basso profundo notes properly resonant, that one wonders why he wasn’t preferred by Covent Garden to any of their recent German Sarastros.'
‘This is one of the most desirable sets in Chandos's admirable series, worthy to stand comparison with some of the classic accounts in the original German. Mackerras is relatively rare among senior conductors in that he has flirted with the period instrument movement in Mozart, and his conducting combines the best of that world - fleet, athletic tempos, transparent textures, wonderfully explosive drumstrokes in the overture - with the wisdom of an old-stager who knows that not all of the so-called 'Viennese' Mozart tradition is ripe for the scrapheap...
(Rebecca Evans’s) Pamina is even better in English than it was in German at Covent Garden. The same goes for Simon Keenlyside’s world-class Papageno, a vernacular performance sure in the Schikaneder tradition of clownishness and pathos. Of all the other principals, John Tomlinson is in such fine voice, his basso profundo notes properly resonant, that one wonders why he wasn’t preferred by Covent Garden to any of their recent German Sarastros.'
‘No work seems to me to make better sense in the vernacular than Mozart’s concluding masterpiece... As ever, Mackerras proves himself a loving and perceptive Mozartian. Throughout he wonderfully contrasts the warmth and sensuousness of the music for the good characters with the fire and fury of the baddies, and he persuades the LPO strings – indeed, the whole orchestra – to play with a lightness and promptness that is wholly enchanting, quite the equal of most bands on the other available versions... Rebecca Evans gives her most enjoyable performance on disc to date. Her voice has taken on a new richness without losing any of its focus or delicacy of utterance. Everything she does has sincerity and poise...’