I found Bergman's film of Mozart's opera neither the unalloyed masterpiece of some critics,
nor the failure of others. To me it represented a perfectly enjoyable attempt to bring opera
to the masses (remember this was made for TV), while not quite being a masterwork.
There are a lot of moments of just plain fun; in the story, the singing, the costumes, the images.
But there are failed ideas as well.
Operating on a small budget, Bergman tries to walk a fine line of keeping the opera set in a theater,
while 'opening it up' with camera angles, and sets that would never work in a real theater. Not
a bad concept, but the constant cuts to audience reactions (especially those of his own daughter)
becomes increasingly distracting, and there are times where some of the theatrical artifice, seen
up close, just seems clunky, not magical.
As a result, you never can 'believe in' the story, but you also don't get the grandeur and magic of
a great stage production. You DO get an intimacy with the characters and their feelings, which is great
where those are interesting, not so good in those moments where the story itself (as opposed to
Mozart's sublime music) is a bit silly, contradictory and shallow.
NB: The film has a big note that it is "full screen' on the listing, but that doesn't
mean it was ever meant to be seen widescreen. Bergman made it for TV, long before
today's wide screen televisions. So "full screen" was how it was meant to be.