Rupert Christiansen, that interesting grouch, thinks that Simon Keenlyside -- aka that big hulking juicy slab of baritonal USDA prime beef (OK he's English, whatevs) -- is getting too old for Zauberfloete and should hurry up and join his 60something and 70something colleagues who sing Rigoletto instead.
Do Opera Chic readers agree with Il Ruperto?
OC sez, hails naw! Do not take our Papageno away!
Interestingly, this is what another critic had to say of the same singer in the same performance. Instead of somebody who'd better be thinking about retiring the role, actually, Keenlyside is
The joy, and the reason to go, is Simon Keenlyside's Papageno. This most generous of artists pours head, heart and magnificent voice into each note, each gesture.
Mozart's librettist and director, Schikaneder, created the part for himself, giving himself the best music and the best gags. Keenlyside likewise relishes every moment, with endless tumbles, somersaults, skids, even a cartwheel, delivered with bendy rag-doll ease.
He looks suitably terrified when his good-time girl Papagena (Kishani Jayasinghe) thunders into view and pounces. In big baggy suit, with braces hanging and crumpled expression on his face, Keenlyside manages to be Chaliapin and Chaplin rolled into one. This is a feat worth experiencing.
Team Keenlyside ftw lulz
And anyway, this is SK's Papageno in 2003. He didn't look or sound too old then