The Marriage of Figaro, as this elegant 1994 production brilliantly reminds us, was a French bedroom comedy before it became a Mozart opera. It is a classic of French literature, and it is still enjoyable as a spoken play after more than two centuries of existence. Its literary quality gives this production a special flavor. The music–some of Mozart's finest–is beautifully presented by a carefully chosen international cast (including Giovanni Furlanetto, Elzbieta Szymtka, Janice Watson, and Ludovic Tezier), but what sets this production apart is its theatrical flavor, cultivated by a director who is an expert on classic French theater. The standards of spoken theater are upheld in timing, body language, the inflection of punch lines. These qualities are more important here than in most operas; style is both crucial and elusive. Fortunately, the Opera de Lyon, one of most imaginative companies in Europe, shows an impressive sense of style. (Joe McLellan)
Unlike the late arrival of Mozart's Turkish opera, "Figaro" was much more of a constant in Solti's long career. Apart from being his debut opera, and a work he conducted at Covent Garden in a new staging in 1963-64, he also led editions in Chicago (1957), and with the Paris Opera in the highly visible Giorgio Strehler production that opened Intendant Rolf Liebermann's bold-new-start regime in March 1973; it was initially presented at the Palace of Versailles and in 1976 toured to the US. Frederica von Stade, the most admired Cherubino of the day, who had sung the role for Solti at Versailles, also appears on his subsequent recording. Made in 1981 with an exceptional cast, it won a Grammy award, perhaps unsurprisingly given that its other major assets include Kiri Te Kanawa's creamy-voiced Countess, Lucia Popp's sprightly Susanna, Thomas Allen's authoritative Count and Samuel Ramey's weighty Figaro. Smaller roles - Jane Berbié's Marcellina, Robert Tear's Basilio and Philip Langridge's Curzio among them - are also handled with tremendous care.
This luxuriously cast film of Mozart's beloved opera buffa features a host of legendary interpretations, including Kiri Te Kanawa's exquisite Countess Almaviva, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau as her philandering husband, Hermann Prey as the wily title character, Mirella Freni, a delight as his no less savvy bride Susanna, and Maria Ewing, hilarious as the lovesick page Cherubino. Director Jean-Pierre Ponnelle's imaginative camera-work tellingly emphasizes character and mood in this immortal story of love, intrigue and class struggle, set against the historical background of ancien regime Europe sliding inexorably towards revolution.
Giorgio Strehler was one of Europe’s most celebrated theatre directors. In his Piccolo Teatro in Milan he created outstanding interpretations of Bertolt Brecht and William Shakespeare. As an opera director he worked at all the major international opera houses, most notably the Teatro alla Scala, Milan, where he was responsible for productions of Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra (1971), Macbeth (1975) and in 1980 for Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro. This legendary production of Mozart’s masterpiece is now available as a 2006 recording, featuring the wonderful Diana Damrau as Susanna and Ildebrando D’Arcangelo as Figaro.
This memorable recording from the Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin was Arthaus Musik’s first official release in 2000. It features one of the most popular Mozart operas, „Le Nozze di Figaro“, a witty satire on the authority of the reigning noble class and infidelity in love relationships. Starring a great cast of singers with Dorothea Röschmann, René Pape, Emily Magee and Peter Schreier – to name but a few – this performance is conducted by Daniel Barenboim, chief conductor of the Berlin State Orchestra since 1992 named conductor for life by the orchestra in 2000.
The protagonist of the film, set in 1700, is Figaro, the barber of Seville, who risks being arrested for opening his shop on Sundays despite a ban. Figaro is a friend of a young Count who's in love with Rosina, the governor's daughter. But her father doesn't consent to their marriage.
This new, excitingly original production of Mozart's most popular opera was the sensation of the 2006 Salzburg Festival. "What young director Claus Guth has made of Figaro - with Harnoncourt's active collaboration - is genius … The stellar cast performed with power and precision …" (Le Monde). "…a fully rounded musical performance…By and large the opera could hardly be more strongly cast. Anna Netrebko is a dreamy, vulnerable and beautifully sung Susanna, and Ildebrando D'Arcangelo's smouldering Figaro is a really macho rival to the Count.” (Gramophone)