"You are right, Natalie Dessay sings the Queen of the Nights aria a semi-tone lower. In fact, the whole opera is a tone lower. It is recorded on Authentic instruments, which were tuned a semi tone lower in mozarts day than they are now. Therefore almost all pieces recorded on baroque instruments are a semi-tone lower.
I think the recording is masterful. Semi tone lower or not..."
Crystal clear recording and my favorite opera disc
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This performance is very involving; the period instruments have an unusually warm sound, but retain their clarity. The sopranos do not shriek excessively, as is the case with many larger-scale performances. I never liked opera until I heard performances like this; the singing is sweet, pure, enthusiastic. The sound quality is excellent; warm, detailed, somewhat dry--but it suits this performance perfectly."
The Magic Flute as Mozart would have heard it?
G. Camara | Sao Jose dos Campos, SP Brazil | 11/06/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Coming from a highly successful carrer in Baroque choral music (Rameau, Mondonville, Charpentier, Monteverdi) William Christie and his talented Les Arts Florissants give us what is arguably the most challenging Zauberflote around. We think we know it all: the "Queen of the Night" aria, Tamino & Pamina, Papageno & Papagena... Christie challenges our convictions: why should Mozart sound like Verdi when his background is closer to Bach and Monteverdi? Why should Mozart's chamber and piano music sound so subdued and our modern versions of Zauberflote be sung forte or mezzo-forte? In this recording (as other reviewers have pointed out) all instruments are toned as they would have been in Mozart's time, and the conductor does not force the singers to do bravura arias all the time. The result is a unique recording that will give much satisfaction to all listerners. Even if you own other recordings of Zauberflote, try this one. It will be a pleasant and welcome choc."
A winning, theatrical Zauberflote in period style
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 07/03/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It's odd that this older period-style Magic Flute sounds so close to Claudio Abbado's new version released just last month. A decade ago, in 1996, William Christie was at the leading edge of authenticity, yet now we have a mainstream conductor adopting the same gesutres: strings playing without vibrato, reduced orchestra, and 'unforced singing,' as Christie calls it. The good news for him is that his recording easily keeps up with the new one in almost every way.
Despite the period flavor, tempos are not rushed--Christie is actually slower than usual in the Queen of the Night's music. He does that to give the excellent Natalie Dessay room for more expression. In general Christie is aiming at a natural theatricality that is neither pompous nor archly fairy tale--just as Abbado does, too. The Tamino of Hans Peter Blochwitz is vocally more beautiful than any on disc since Fritz Wunderlich, though Blochwitz is more lyrical than ardent. His Pamina is unknown to me, the modest, sweet-voiced Rosa Mannion. I'm also unaware of the Papageno, Anton Scharinger, who is genial and lively but with no attempt at humor--Christie clearly didn't want a Papageno who clowns around.
It's in several leading roles that Abbado goes ahead of Christie, because Mannion and Scharinger are unimaginative and sometimes only pleasant. Even Dessay, gifted with such a brilliant technique, doesn't sound threatening or particularly angry as the villainess of the piece. Rene Pape is such a commanding Sarastro for Abbado that Reinhard Hagen, doing a serviceable job, sounds disappointing when he tunrs out to have weak, gravelly low notes.
I've owned period Die Zaubeflotes from Norrington and Gardiner as well, and Christie's is the best of the lot, a vital, engaging, natural account."