photo: Beatriz Schiller
Julie Taymor's spectacular production of Mozart's most popular opera leaves you almost giddy with happiness: it's a carnival of theatrical delights to captivate both young and old. The jaw-dropping puppets, the dazzling visual effects, the eye-popping sets: I've never seen a production of The Magic Flute as dynamic and as boundlessly inventive as this one which manages to make so much of the opera's potential for both grand spectacle and intimate fairy-tale charm. But I'm coming late to that bit of news: the production was such a success when it premiered a few years ago that the Met has promised to bring it back (albeit, sometimes as a heavily abbreviated English language one-act) every other season. This particular performance marked one of German soprano Diana Damrau's last-ever-anywhere appearances as The Queen Of The Night: she's chosen to retire the famously difficult role from her rep after triumphing with it all over the globe. If the demands of the arias ever lost her a night of sleep you would never have known it, as her ringing coloratura was precise and exciting, each note thrillingly delineated and shaded with feeling.