A longtime pet project of Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's opera The Magic Flute was finally brought to the screen in 1973. While the opera itself is offered in a highly stylized and theatrical fashion, the fluidity of the camerawork turns the affair into a purely cinematic experience. Sung in Swedish, the libretto remains as ever a gentle parody of the initiation ceremonies of the Masons, offered as an other-worldly fantasy involving a kidnapped princess (Irma Urrila), a vengeful Queen of the Night (Birgit Nordin), and a carefree wanderer who periodically plays the titular flute. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
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Leave it to Ingmar Bergman to focus the first 10 mins or so (which seemed like an eternity) filming the audience for their reacton to what the Magic Flute performance they were watching on stage. While the lead performers were pleasant enough to listen to and the Mozart libretto pleasing to the ear even in Swedish, the stage design and scenery was third rate -- seemingly right out of a high school play. The youngsters who played the three spirits while cute seemed conflicted on which emotion to project while guiding the lead performers thru the trials & tribulations brought to bear by the evil sorcerer who kidnapped the princess. Luckily, the ending makes this long tale all worth while.
I found Bergmanâs film of Mozartâs opera neither the masterpiece of some critics, nor the failure of others. A perfectly enjoyable attempt to bring opera to the masses, made for TV. A lot of fun; in the story, the singing, the costumes, the images. But some failed ideas as well. Bergman sets the opera in a theater, while opening it up with camera angles, and sets that would never work in a real theater. But the constant cuts to audience reactions (especially those of his own daughter) becomes increasingly distracting, and there are times where some of the theatrical artifice, seen up close, seems clunky, not magical. You never can believe in the story, but you also donât get the grandeur and magic of a great stage production. You DO get an intimacy with the characters and their feelings, which is good where those are interesting, not so good in those moments where the story itself (as opposed to Mozartâs sublime music) is a bit silly, contradictory and shallow.
Filmed in the Stockholm opera house as a stage version with stage sets, audience, etc.; not as a cinematic treatment. Best part is Pagageno getting ready to go on stage. Starts slow as Bergman sets the atmosphere by focusing on the audience. Singers sound great. Bergman has fun with it and makes it human-sized. I'm buying my own copy.