For Mozart’s Magic Flute Diaries, many of the most popular selections from Mozart’s original score are performed on screen. Long before the cameras started rolling the vocalists made their way into the CBC studio to record their performances. Months earlier Peter Breiner, a composer who has worked on countless other Sullivan Entertainment productions, had traveled to Bratislava and recorded the orchestral arrangements for the songs. The singers had received CDs of these tracks in order to practice.
With the exception of Tom/Tamino, the rest of the vocals were performed by the actual actor who would portray the role in the film. Even the ‘chorus’ singers appeared on screen as townsfolk while Sarastro triumphantly marched into his kingdom.
After these tiring recording sessions, supervised by Peter Breiner, the tracks and mixed and the final music for the film was created.
While on set, a sound system would blast tracks from the CD and actors would lip-sync their voices. Since these were trained opera stars, many preferred to actually sing along with the recording to ensure the singing that was captured by the camera was authentic. As reshoots took place, and different angles shot, the CD track would be started again from the beginning, or an appropriate cue, so that the vocalists could continue their movement while mouthing the correct words.
I remember while watching Olivier Laquerre perform ‘My Pretty Little Wife‘ on set, his live vocals really did sound just as good as the vocals from the CD that were being heard.
A side note about Tom/Tamino, played by Warren Christie: He really did try his best to sync to the vocals of his character, provided by Colin Ainsworth. However, you can tell if you look closely that his performance simply isn’t as convincing as the others. Also, his flute playing has always bugged me. As a saxophonist, I am familiar with the flute fingering positions and offered to teach Warren some tips – but lack of time made that impossible. Also, his fingers tend to move as the note is played. While playing an actual wind instrument, his fingers would need to be set before the note is made and so he could blow at the correct moment. Anyways, it is a small complaint. Overall, I think all the musical numbers are well done.