Singing speaks most eloquently for itself in real time and doesn't fall into words on paper very easily," writes a former voice teacher of mine. "It is either beautiful or it isn't. If it's beautiful, words aren't adequate. If it isn't, words about it have to be either false or cruel." Why, then, would I offer the following dissection of what I believe to be the greatest recording of arguably the greatest opera? And how, with a glut of Magic Flute recordings on the market (I aborted my tally at over forty casts on dozens of labels), can I presume to identify one particular recording as the greatest among them? After all, if you believe my teacher's claim above, would not even the most rapturous hyperbole prove inadequate?