A Salzburg Festival performance of The Magic Flute in Mozart's native city is always a special event, and when it is the first performance on period instruments, conducted by the Mozart specialist Nikolaus Harnoncourt with "his" Concentus Musicus ensemble, then it is the sort of event which attracts a great degree of international attention and anticipation in advance. Anticipation which is then rewarded: "Harnoncourt conducts with precision and finesse", wrote the Financial Times. According to the Kurier newspaper, there was "much that is new, most of it fascinating, some of it astounding in its musical interpretation", while Concentus Musicus "produces a surprisingly powerful sound", to quote the Financial Times again.
The strong ensemble of singers added the required vocal thrill, with Georg Zeppenfeld especially impressive as a splendid Sarastro, "… slim and black, and so noble", as the Süddeutsche Zeitung put it. Bernard Richter gives a dynamic Tamino with an impressively clear vocal line that is "uncommonly strong" according to the New York Times. Julia Kleiter, meanwhile, as "a Pamina to fall in love with" (according to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung) demonstrated flawless phrasing in her role, while Markus Werba, "with his robust baritone", shone once again in his best role as Papageno, according to Die Presse. In Mandy Fredrich we had a fabulous Queen of the Night with her heady and peerless coloraturas.
In his Salzburg debut, the renowned German theatre director Jens-Daniel Herzog succeeds in producing a dramatic reinterpretation of the opera which fits perfectly into the historic ambience of the Felsenreitschule. "Herzog is master of his craft, creating an elegant … and … gutsy" reading, according to the Süddeutsche Zeitung.