When I look at the face of conductor James Levine, while he conducts the overture to, say, “The Marriage of Figaro”, “The Magic Flute”, or a Mozart symphony, I see a face filled with Joy. No matter how many dozens of times this man must have directed these masterpieces, I can still see the smile and the wonder in his face, as he undoubtedly contemplates the genius of Mozart.
I have previously listened to many well-known impressive performances of “Zauberfloete”, as conducted by Mr. Levine. And he usually did so with a whole collection of amazing singers.
On December 30, 2006, he directed a live performance of “Zauberfloete”, and it was Julie Taymor’s excellent English-language production which brought one of Mozart’s greatest works to life as never before.
James Levine led a cast that included Ying Huang as Pamina in her Met debut, as well as Nathan Gunn, Matthew Polenzani, Erika Miklosa and Rene Papa. This is a recording of that performance, and the DVD Release Date was August 16, 2011
James Levine was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, to a musical family. His father was a violinist, who led a dance band, and his mother was an actress. He began to play the piano as a small child. At the age of 10, he made his concert debut as soloist in Felix Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 2 at a youth concert of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.
Levine subsequently studied music with Walter Levin, first violinist in the LaSalle Quartet. In 1956 he took piano lessons with Rudolf Serkin at the Marlboro Music School, Vermont. In the following year he began studies with Rosina Lhévinne at the Aspen Music School. After graduating from High School, he entered the Juilliard School of Music in New York City in 1961, and took courses in conducting with Jean Morel. He graduated from the Juilliard School in 1964.
Here’s a section of the overture to the Magic Flute and the cast preparation: (Just listen to that terrific energy in the orchestra)
Here is a video of the famous aria from The Magic Flute – Papagena! Papagena! Papagena!
And here’s another scene from the same opera:
Tags: Mozart, Magic Flute, Zauberfloete, James Levine, Julie Taymor