Seven years ago (2006), and with a 27 million budget, Kenneth Branagh made a film version of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's The Magic Flute (read the film synopsis here.) The Peter Moores Foundation, who do amazing work translating opera into English, commissioned Stephen Fry to make this adaptation, and it remains witty, sexy, funny, passionate, and silly as the original libretto!
Set in World War I, from the very start the film is gripping, gorgeous, and stunning. I appreciated the military band (full orchestra really) playing the overture (which also plays in its entirety at the end for the film credits) on the battlefield. Small substitutions, such as mustard gas representing the dragon, are made to fit the situations.
Film buffs might make the connection to Harry Potter as a picture comes to life, to Fred Astaire with a black and white dance scene, and even to the Muppets as a chicken joins a duet towards the end for Pa … pa … pa ...
Gripping scenes such as the Queen of the Night's Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen get silver screen treatment with fiery windmills and flying rage, and in the trials of water, Tamino mein, o welch ein Glück!, conductor James Conlon makes a cameo as a reassuring officer.
The studio recording is delightful and with the likes of René Pape as Sarastro, Silvia Moi as Papagena, Joseph Kaiser as Tamino, and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, it is a lot to love.