Polenzani adds his outstanding vocalism to Lyric’s “Magic Flute”

Thu Jan 12, 2017 at 8:04 pm

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Matthew Polenzani is singing the role of Tamino in Lyric Opera's remaining performances of Mozart's "The Magic Flute." Photo: Fay Fox
Matthew Polenzani is singing the role of Tamino in Lyric Opera’s remaining performances of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute.” Photo: Fay Fox

Lyric Opera unveiled its new Magic Flute last month, replacing the beloved yet musty August Everding production that had been a company evergreen for a quarter-century. While the new staging received less-than-adulatory notices, the musical values were largely unassailable with a superb cast.

Matthew Polenzani has joined Lyric’s Magic Flute to sing the role of Tamino for the final two weeks of the run. And with Polenzani bringing his customary stellar artistry to a favored role at Thursday’s matinee, the addition makes an already strong cast into an outstanding one without a single weak link.

Is there a better Mozart tenor before the public than Matthew Polenzani? Unlikely. The Evanston native brought a fresh element to the show, singing with rich, vibrant tone as well as a dramatic urgency that elevated the entire production. His “Dies Bildnis” was a model of supreme Mozart style–elegant yet impassioned with a fluent, seamless line.

The rest of the cast is equally inspired, with Christiane Karg a vocally luminous Pamina and Adam Plachetka a wry and characterful Papageno. Kathryn Lewek remains a Queen of the Night for the ages–the soprano blazed through her stratospheric arias in even more fearless and remarkable fashion than on opening night.

The early 1960s suburban setting, with its “hey kids, let’s put on an opera in my backyard” conceit, was less off-putting the second time around. The mundane visuals short both the fanciful and serious elements of Mozart’s tale, and the Masonic inspiration is nowhere in sight.

Still, the unit set of a huge, revolving Cape Cod house and the retro-nerdy costumes have an undeniable goofy charm. And hearing Mozart’s glorious music performed on this level can make one overlook almost anything.

The Magic Flute runs through January 27. lyricopera.org

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One Response to “Polenzani adds his outstanding vocalism to Lyric’s “Magic Flute””

  1. Posted Jan 15, 2017 at 1:34 pm by Leslie

    …and there is no recording…

    no money to go to Chicago, and no broadcast, snd no recording.How unfair…

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