This review will concentrate on the Polish soprano portraying the Queen of Night, rather than the introductory concept of this 1982 performance.
Zdzis³awa Donat was born in 1936, and the Queen of Night is certainly her most celebrated role. It was the opera of her debuts at the San Francisco Opera, Covent Garden, and the Metropolitan Opera. She also recorded the complete role for RCA, in 1980, under the baton of this same conductor, James Levine. On this DVD, we have only her famous "Vengeance Aria," and it is a triumph.
Costumed in glittering black, with a white wig, Mme Donat hurls her fiorature like shards of ice, to breath-taking effect. Jean-Pierre Ponnelle has her seemingly suspended in air, surrounded by stars. Unfortunately, when this brilliant Ponnelle production was filmed the same year, in toto, it was another soprano who assumed the Queen. At least we have this souvenir of an astonishing portrayal.
Interestingly, the previous generation's great Queen of Night, Edda Moser, is the First Lady in this performance!