CONCERT REVIEW: Jerusalem Opera

Mozart: The Magic Flute

Mozart’s ‘The Magic Flute’ will be on show for Jerusalem opera lovers on December 28 and 30 (photo credit: GAYA SA’ADON)
Mozart’s ‘The Magic Flute’ will be on show for Jerusalem opera lovers on December 28 and 30
(photo credit: GAYA SA’ADON)
Jerusalem Theater December 28 - The establishment of the Jerusalem Opera was certainly a praiseworthy initiative. After all, Jerusalem having been declared the capital of Israel, it now deserves an opera of its own.
Its performance of Mozart’s Magic Flute, one of the most demanding works in terms of staging, was on the whole faithful to Mozart’s supposed intentions. Monica Waitzfelder’s direction and Anna Ziv’s stage designs were tastefully minimalist, leaving much to the audience’s imagination, and abstaining from artificial modernism, except for a naive use of roller skates.
Naturally, the four-year-old opera demonstrated some growing pains.
The action proceeded at a rather slow movement tempo that was fatiguing and lacked tension. Actors frequently moved purposelessly around the stage.
The fire and water trial scenes, admittedly difficult to perform, were utterly incomprehensible. On the other hand, the snake and the animals ballets were mildly amusing, and the final sudden lighting effect, symbolizing the victory of the sun and light over darkness and evil, made a forceful impression on the audience before leaving the hall.
Most of the singers, still not wellknown on local shores, were up to their roles. Outstanding was Swiss Semjon Bulinsky as Tamino, whose soft, caressing tenor enchanted right from his first aria “Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schoen” (“This picture is fascinatingly beautiful”), despite being indisposed at the time of performance.
Samuel Berlad’s sonorous baritone, as Papageno, the work’s comic character, made his humor sometime sound too forced, lacking Viennese nonchalance.
As Pamina, Na’ama Sulman has yet to learn how to make her appealing soprano sound gentle, delicate and unaassertive, as this role requires.
Hungarian soprano Viktoria Varga, as the Queen of the Night, performed excitingly virtuoso coloraturas. The performance’s disappointment was Denis Sedov, as Sarastro, whose bass was hollering more than majestic, and whose intonation sounded tentative.
Conducted by Omer Arieli, the Ashdod Symphony Orchestra contributed instrumental support expertly and flexibly, sensitive to the singers’ intentions.
As a still-young ensemble, the Jerusalem Opera might advisably perform less ambitious but not less impressive operas.