Diana Damrau first made her mark as a sensational Queen of the Night – a part she has just relinquished – and has garnered rave reviews in roles such as Konstanze, Zerbinetta and Rossini’s Rosina. One or two other coloratura sopranos today can match her diamantine brilliance and agility, but few, if any, command such fullness in the middle and lower ranges.
The Amadeus Quartet developed a reputation as one of the finest string quartets from the second half of the twentieth century. Its tradition and style were Viennese and its repertory was largely Austro-German: Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and Brahms were at the core, though it performed works by Smetana, Franck, Bruckner, Bartók, Britten, Tippett, and other twentieth century composers. They also regularly performed quintets and sextets (Mozart, Brahms, Schubert, etc.), usually adding cellist William Pleeth and/or violist Cecil Aronowitz. The Amadeus was one of the longest-lived quartets, performing for 40 years without a personnel change, and it was also among the most popular string quartets in England, Germany, the United States, and parts of Europe. It made numerous recordings – many still available – for several labels, including DG, Decca, and EMI.
“One of Böhm's last operatic assignments, he accompanies his fine cast with huge wisdom. Gruberova and Talvela are outstanding. August Everding's production, adventurous for 1980, is now a delight to look at” (BBC Music Magazine). “the performance has a winning glow, with an excellent cast of soloists. Edita Gruberova as Konstanze is at her freshest…[Grist's Blonde] is a charming and characterful assumption, most of all when confronting the powerful Osmin of Martii Tavela” (Penguin Guide).
Critical acclaim for this superb co-production of Vienna's Staatsoper, the Wiener Festwochen and Brussels' Théâtre de la Monnaie (Das Opernglas): "Directors Ursel and Karl-Ernst Herrmann, working with Nikolaus Harnoncourt, demonstrate that the 'Entführung' is fully on the level of Mozart's Da Ponte operas and 'Zauberflöte'. In the harmony of staging and music, this is one of the most impressive Mozart performances Vienna has offered in a long time… Breaking with tradition, it seeks to fulfil his intentions as closely as possible."
Set in the exotic seraglio of the Pasha Selim, the story revolves around the rescue of the lovely Constanze by her lover Belmonte – a tale of love, bravery and forgiveness. In this work, Mozart breaks new ground in introducing dramatically rounded characters with recognisably human feelings and weaknesses. The work influenced and changed the nature of opera throughout Europe. This charming production from Drottningholm does full justice to Mozart’s score. Arnold Östman’s deliberate conducting combined with Carl Friedrich Oberle’s design demonstrates that this really is “an eternal masterpiece of music drama by a youthful, exuberant composer who suddenly found his individual voice and style in the field of opera with this particular work” (Opera now)
Die Zauberflöte is the artistic and philosophical testament of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who died a few weeks after the work’s première in Vienna. Intertwining music of awesome purity and beauty with the conventions of the singspiel - a popular form of musical comedy – Mozart’s final operatic legacy to the world explores Man’s search for the truth and his confusion between the forces of dark and light and the final utopian resolution of seemingly irreconcilable elements. Because of the opera’s relationship to freemasonry, commentators have identified Tamino with the Emperor Joseph II, Pamina with the Austrian people, Sarastro with Ignaz von Born, Monostatos with the clergy and the Queen of the Night with the Empress Maria Theresa. Whichever level one approaches Die Zauberflöte on, it remains a great work in the spirit of the Enlightenment as well as a delightful fairy-tale. Nothing is so simple as to be absolutely clear-cut. In life, the serious and the comic often intermingle in a way that is disconcerting. In Die Zauberflöte, Mozart succeeds in combining these two elements in a way which has never been surpassed. The light and vibrant presentation of the Scandinavian cast - internationally renowned bass Lászlo Polgár is the only non-Scandinavian soloists – the authentic staging and the lean orchestra sound conducted by the illustrious Arnold Östman makes this performance definitely one of the best Zauberflöte-performances of the 20th century.