The Swiss director Benno Besson who died in 2006, was previous director of the Volksbühne Berlin and collaborator such notabilities as Bertold Brecht and Heiner Müller. However, these are obvious influences in this Magic Flute staging at the Palais Garnier (Paris), in which Besson quite simply created a fairytale for children.
This Magic Flute is an eclectic childrens world of Egyptian temples, Norse mythology, Oriental influences and African tribal arts. The opening scene almost exactly mimicks the Pierre Audi/Karel Appel production with grey mountains rolling in on a stage, wher also stuffed lions and birds appear. Tamino looks like Aladdin and costumes are generally very luxurious, not far from kitsch.
Personally, I find David McVicar´s production more charming and Audi´s more stunning. However, children may well like this one the best.
Musically, it is superb, mainly due to the both vivid and interesting reading of Ivan Fischer. I´d give one star for the ouverture alone.
Of the singers, Dorothea Röschmann was clearly the best in her second Pamina DVD and Desirée Rancatore was clearly the worst. The rest were fine, though unspectacular, though Matti Salminen does deserve special mention for his noble Sarastro.
Dorothea Röschmann: Ach, ich fühl´s :
The bottom line (scale of 1-5, 3=average):
Dorothea Röschmann: 5
Piotr Beczala: 4
Matti Salminen: 4
Detlef Roth: 4
Desiree Rancatore: 2
Besson´s staging: 3
Ivan Fischer: 4-5
Overall impression: 3