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An out of sync Die Zauberflöte at the Royal Opera

There seemed to be some sort of battle between what was being played in the pit and what was being sung on stage at the Royal Opera last night. The 6'4" Joseph Kaiser as Tamino started well in the opening aria with a strong tenorial ring in his voice. But when the three ladies turned up things started to change - the ensemble of the singing was good, but somehow it went out slightly with the orchestra. Christopher Maltman's Papageno also got off to a good start - but there was tension in the tempo. It all came to a head when the three ladies and the Queen of the Night (Jessica Pratt) returned - it was touch and go at times whether they will reach the end of the bar together. Sadly it went on like that for the remaining first act. 

The second act started well, and Jessica Pratt sang the famous Queen of the Night aria with accuracy and conviction. But the ensemble problem came back - the chorus wasn't together with the orchestra, the tempo of the three brave boys rocked, and so on. In the solo arias, the singers wanted to take more time with the lines but the pit didn't go with the flow. Luckily the final scenes were more or less together and everyone stopped at the same fermata.
To me, the whole performance sounded like a rehearsal. Except it couldn't have been as it was the second performance of this revival production by David McVicar. Based on my personal observation, I think Sir Colin Davis was unwell - his walk to the rostrum was slow and timid, he didn't look up to the singers much nor give them the leads when expected, and he seemed to have focused more on the orchestral players than on stage. At the end of the performance, Sir Colin took his curtain call in the pit rather than on stage. So perhaps he was unwell. Or perhaps it was something else ...


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