A.C. Douglas weighs in on the Met Die Zauberflöte broadcast on PBS. He was, shall we say, far less critical than I. To a certain point, I think we agree on Taymor's staging: fantastic and faithful to the spirit of Mozart's Konzept (the only one that matters).
However, he had this to say about the "adaptation":
Surprisingly, the new English-language text for this version (by J.D. McClatchy who created an entirely new text, not a translation of the original German) was absolutely first-rate, and after a quick recovery from the initial jolt of hearing English spoken and sung rather than German, the words came across as a quite natural part of the musical and dramatic fabric of the piece. A most impressive accomplishment, indeed.
I still can't get over that. Mozart didn't write his transcendent music for English. Was Schikaneder's libretto perfect? Maybe; maybe not. However, I must be simply reactionary on this point. To dare to put new words to Mozart's music is, in A.C. Douglas' own words, prole-pandering of the worst sort. If the audience can't sit through even a truncated version of Die Zauberflöte auf Deutsch, then they should go watch Dreamgirls. It will be cheaper, more entertaining, and it won't throw mud on a tower of Western culture.
Everyone's happy. Especially people who care about, you know, culture.
Now, I expect that I will be told - in no uncertain terms - why I am not only wrong, but dead wrong. Fair enough. In Tom Petty's words, "I won't back down" on this one. If the Met is engaging in this sort of egregious restructuring of genius (though Frau Mozart thought Tito his best), then there is no hope for civilization. I could quote Cicero, and his comment the times and the mores. However, I want to quote Cato the Elder,
Karthago delenda est.