Tuesday, March 11, 2003

[3/11/2011] Special: Remembering Margaret Price, Part 4 -- in search of Pamina in "The Magic Flute" (continued)



Okay, this is a little weird, but it's the only professional-quality performance I could find on YouTube of the Act I quintet from The Magic Flute, and it's musically a quite satisfactory performance, with Sandra Trattnig, Katharina Peetz, and Irene Friedli as the Three Ladies of the Queen of the Night sending off Jonas Kaufmann as Prince Tamino and Michael Volle as the bird-catcher Papageno on their mission to rescue the Queen's daughter, Pamina, from the supposedly evil Sarastro. (We heard the last part of the quintet in last Sunday night's post.)

MOZART: The Magic Flute, K. 620: Act I, Quintet, "Hm, hm, hm, hm. hm, hm, hm, hm!" . . . "Lebet wohl! Wir wollen gehn!" . . . "Drei Knäbchen, jung, schön, hold und weise" . . . "So lebet wohl!"
PAPAGENO [steps in front of Tamino and points ruefully at the lock on his mouth]: Hm, hm, hm, hm. hm, hm, hm, hm!
TAMINO: The poor man can talk about punishment,
for he has lost his speech.
PAPAGENO: Hm, hm, hm, hm, hm, hm, hm, hm!
TAMINO: I can only pity you,
because I have no power to help.
PAPAGENO: Hm, hm, hm, hm, hm, hm, hm, hm!
FIRST LADY [to Papageno]: The Queen pardons you,
remits your punishment through me.
[She takes the lock off his mouth.]
PAPAGENO: Now Papageno can chatter again.
SECOND LADY: Yes, chatter! Only do not tell any more lies!
PAPAGENO: I'll never tell another lie. No, no!
THE THREE LADIES: Let this lock be a warning to you!
PAPAGENO: This lock shall be a warning to me!
ALL: For if all liars received
a lock like this on their mouths,
instead of hatred, calumny, and black gall,
love and brotherhood would flourish.
FIRST LADY [giving Tamino a golden flute]: O Prince, take this gift from me!
Our sovereign sends it to you.
The magic flute will protect you,
and sustain you in the greatest misfortune.
THE THREE LADIES: By it you may act with all power,
change the passions of men:
the sorrower will be joyful,
the old bachelor fall in love.
ALL: Oh, such a flute is worth more
than gold and crowns,
for through it human happiness
and contentment will be increased.
PAPAGENO: Now, fair wenches,
if I may - I'll take my leave.
THE THREE LADIES: You can certainly take your leave,
but our sovereign intends you
to accompany the Prince without delay
and hasten to Sarastro's fortress.
PAPAGENO: No, thank you very much!
I have heard from you yourselves
that he is like a tiger.
Certainly, with no mercy,
Sarastro would have me plucked and roasted
and fed to the dogs.
THE THREE LADIES: The Prince will protect you, only trust in him!
In return you shall be his servant.
PAPAGENO: (The Prince can go to the devil!
My life is dear to me.
In the end, I'll swear,
he'll steal away from me like a thief.)
FIRST LADY [giving Papageno a glockenspiel]: Here, take this treasure, it is for you.
PAPAGENO: Well, now! What might be in there?
THE THREE LADIES: In there you'll hear little bells ringing.
PAPAGENO: And can I play them as well?
THE THREE LADIES: Oh, quite certainly! Yes, yes, certainly!
ALL: Silver chimes, magic flutes
are needed for your/our protection.
Farewell, we are going.
Farewell, until we see you again!
[All are about to go.]
TAMINO: Yet, fair ladies, tell us . . .
PAPAGENO: How the castle may be found.
TAMINO and PAPAGENO: How the castle may be found.
THE THREE LADIES: Three boys, young, beautiful, gracious, and wise,
will accompany you on your journey.
They will be your guides,
follow nothing but their advice.
TAMINO and PAPAGENO: Three boys, young, beautiful, gracious, and wise,
will accompany us on our journey.
THE THREE LADIES: They will be your guides,
follow nothing but their advice.
ALL: So farewell, we are going;
farewell, farewell, until we see you again!


As I indicated in the caption for our lead-in video performance of the Magic Flute Overture, I like that performance -- musically, at least, paying no attention to the nonsensical production -- than the one we're about to hear, from Sir Colin's Dresden-made complete recording. As in the case of the Muti recording of The Marriage of Figaro from which we heard excerpts last week, and of a number of other recordings we'll be sampling in this remembrance, we're kind of forced, in order to hear Price, to resort to recordings I'm not all that fond of, with conductors who didn't even necessarily her best work. (The Klemperer-conducted Così would be a notable exception.)

This isn't a bad performance, certainly, but I've always found it generally disappointing, since there was a plausible cast on hand, and the Staatskapelle Dresden in top form could be as good an orchestra for The Magic Flute as you might wish. Unfortunately, Sir Colin Davis's reputation as a Mozart conductor has generally seemed to me wildly overblown, and this is recording strikes me as kind of an aimless shuffle.


MOZART: The Magic Flute, K. 620
Margaret Price (s), Pamina; Peter Schreier (t), Tamino; Robert Tear (t), Monstatos; Mikael Melbye (b), Papageno; Kurt Moll (bs), Sarastro; Leipzig Radio Chorus, Staatskapelle Dresden, Sir Colin Davis, cond. Philips, recorded January 1984


Prince Tamino, teamed up with the humble bird-catcher Papageno, has been dispatched by the star-flaming Queen of the Night to rescue her daughter Pamina from the clutches of the evil priest Sarastro. Tamino and Papageno are separated, and it's Papageno who actually finds Pamina. He tells her of his terrible loneliness being still without a mate, and she assures him that he will find love.

Act I, Duet, Pamina and Papageno,
"Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen"

PAMINA: In men who feel love,
a good heart, too, is never lacking.
PAPAGENO: Sharing these sweet urges
is then women's first duty.
PAMINA and PAPAGENO: We want to enjoy love;
it is through love alone that we live.
PAMINA: Love sweetens every sorrow;
every creature pays homage to it.
PAPAGENO: It gives relish to the days of our life,
it acts in the cycle of nature.
PAMINA and PAPAGENO: Its high purpose clearly proclaims:
there is nothing nobler than woman and man.
Man and woman, and woman and man,
reach towards the deity.

Margaret Price (s), Mikael Melbye (b)

Papageno hears a call from the magic flute that the Queen of the Night's Three Ladies have given him to safeguard him, and answers with the magic bells given to him. He and Pamina set off in search of the prince, but are soon apprehended by Monostatos and his posse.

from Act I finale, Pamina and Papageno,
"Schelle Füsse, rascher Mut"

PAMINA and PAPAGENO: Swift steps, ready courage,
guard against the enemy's cunning and fury.
If only we could find Tamino!
Otherwise they will catch us yet.
PAMINA: Dear young man!
PAPAGENO: Quiet, quiet, I can do better!
He plays the pipes, Tamino answers from within on his flute.
PAMINA and PAPAGENO: What greater joy could there be?
Our friend Tamino can hear us already.
The sound of the flute has reached here.
What happiness if I find him!
Just hurry! Just hurry!
[They try to leave. Enter MONOSTATOS.]
MONOSTATOS: Just hurry! Just hurry!

Margaret Price (s), Mikael Melbye (b)

Papageno screws up his courage and deploys the magic bells against Monostatos and his men, with magical results. Unfortunately, before Papageno and Pamina can make their escape, the run into Sarastro and his full retinue. To their surprise, he seems not evil, but benevolent.

from Act I finale, Papageno, "Wer viel wagt" . . .
Pamina, "Herr, ich bin zwar Verbrecherin"

PAPAGENO: Nothing ventured, nothing gained!
Come, you pretty chimes,
make the little bells ring, ring,
till their ears are singing.
[He plays on his glockenspiel. Immediately MONOSTATOS and the slaves dance and sing.]
MONOSTATOS and SLAVES: That sounds so splendid,
that sounds so pretty!
Lalala la la lalala!
I've never heard or seen the like!
Lalala la la lalala!
[They dance off.]
PAMINA and PAPAGENO: If every honest man
could find little bells like that,
his enemies would then
vanish without trouble,
and without them he would live
in perfect harmony!
Only the harmony of friendship
relieves hardships;
without this sympathy
there is no happiness on earth!
CHORUS [from within]:
Long live Sarastro! May Sarastro live long!
PAPAGENO: What does this mean? I'm trembling, I'm shaking!
PAMINA: Oh, my friend, now it's all up with us.
This heralds Sarastro's arrival.
PAPAGENO: Oh, if I were a mouse
how I would hide!
If I were as little as a snail,
I would crawl into my house!
My child, what shall we say now?
PAMINA: The truth, even if it were a crime!
[SARASTRO, in a triumphal carriage drawn by six lions, makes his entrance with his retinue.]
CHORUS: Long live Sarastro, Sarastro shall have long life!
It is he to whom we gladly submit!
In his wisdom may he always enjoy life.
He is our idol, to whom all are devoted.
PAMINA [kneels down before Sarastro]:
My lord, it is true that I have transgressed,
I wanted to escape from your power.
But the fault is not mine:
the wicked Moor desired my love;
that is why, o lord, I ran away from you!
SARASTRO: Stand up, beloved, be of good cheer!
For even without pressing you,
I know more of your heart;
you love another very dearly.
I do not want to compel you to love,
yet I shall not give you your freedom.
PAMINA: But filial duty calls me,
for my mother . . .
SARASTRO: . . . is in my power.
You would lose your happiness
if I left you in her hands.
PAMINA: My mother's name sounds sweet to me.
She is . . .
SARASTRO: . . . a proud woman!
A man must guide your hearts,
for without him all women tend
to step outside their own sphere of activity.
MONOSTATOS: Now, proud youth, just come here,
here is Sarastro, our lord.
PAMINA: It is he!
TAMINO: It is she!
PAMINA: I can't believe it!
TAMINO: It is she!
PAMINA: It is he!
TAMINO: It's not a dream!
PAMINA: I'll put my arms around him!
TAMINO: I'll put my arms around her!
PAMINA and TAMINO: Even if it were the end of me!
[They embrace.]

Mikael Melbye (b), Margaret Price (s), Robert Tear (t), Kurt Moll (bs), Peter Schreier (t)

In Act II, as Tamino and Papageno undergo the trials of Sarastro's Temple of Wisdom, Pamina finds them, but when Tamino -- unknown to her, under an order of silence -- refuses to talk to her, she assumes the worst.

Act II, Aria, Pamina, "Ach, ich fühl's"
Ah, I sense it has vanished!
The joy of love gone forever!
Hours of delight, you will never come
back to my heart again!
See, Tamino, these tears
are flowing for you alone, beloved.
If you do not feel love's longing
then there will be rest in death!

Margaret Price (s)


We move on to two other German roles: Agathe in Weber's Der Freischütz and the title role in Richard Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos.


Career beginnings (plus the Act I Love Duet from Verdi's Otello)

Part 1: From Handel's Messiah to Wagner's Tristan, emerging in Mozart

Part 2: The Countess in Mozart's Marriage of Figaro (plus "Or sai chi l'onore" from Don Giovanni)

Part 3: Fiordiligi in Mozart's Così fan tutte
[Plus postscript: more of "Soave sia il vento" in the later post Sunday, Bloody Sunday and the depths of Mozart's humanity]


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