This is the fourth instalment in Deutsche Grammophon’s new Mozart cycle. In the end this will encompass the seven great operas, from Idomeneo forwards. I haven’t heard the previous three, but from the reviews I have seen the reception has been rather mixed. Concerning this latest issue I am also in two minds. The problem, as I see it, is that Nézet-Séguin hasn’t quite decided what he is up to. He has the excellent Chamber Orchestra of Europe at his disposal.
Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro is an unforgettable opera about love, desire and the primal force of uncontrollable passion. Concluding the Salzburg Festival’s highly successful Mozart / Da Ponte cycle, director Sven-Eric Bechtolf sets this emotional tour de force in a stately English country house during the 1920s. The renowned Vienna Philharmonic ensures an exceptional evening of music from Mozart’s birthplace. “Everything about the show exuded immediacy and naturalness: the intriguingly updated production by the director Sven-Eric Bechtolf; the winning performances of a compelling cast; and the supple, glowing playing that the conductor Dan Ettinger drew from the Vienna Philharmonic…”. (The New York Times)
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.
It is an oft-repeated saw, about life in the heavenly spheres, that the angels revere Bach but listen to Mozart. If they have DVD players, you can bet they're now watching this stunning production of Le Nozze di Figaro ("The Marriage of Figaro"), which comes about as close to Mozartian perfection as one could possibly hope to get. The faultlessly cast youthful performers bubble with infectious energy. Alison Hagley is a sprightly Susanna with a voice as clear as a bell, and brilliantly matched by a 28-year-old Bryn Terfel both acting and sounding in fine form. Hillevi Martinpelto demonstrates why she is one of the world's favourite Mozart singers with her melting tones, richly coloured voice and generous stage presence, and Rodney Gilfry gives a muscular, wonderfully controlled performance as the Count.
"Barenboim continues to favour a forceful, big-scale reading with often deliberate speeds for the slower numbers, a musically accomplished, thought-through account of the crucial finales to Acts 2 and 4, lively treatment of the recitative, finely-honed playing of the wind, alert rhythms and an avoidance for the most part of appoggiaturas…John Tomlinson is much better suited by Figaro than he was by Alfonso, but still wants in tonal focus…but he does at all times create a lively personality, a force to be reckoned with…" (Gramophone)
David McVicar’s spellbinding production of Le nozze di Figaro is set in 1830s post-revolution France, where the inexorable unravelling of an old order has produced acute feelings of loss. In the relationship between Finley’s suave, dashingly self-absorbed Count and Röschmann’s passionately dignified Countess, which lies at the tragic heart of the opera, the sexy ease between a feisty Figaro (Erwin Schrott) and a sassy Susanna (Miah Persson) is starkly absent, the tenacious spark between Marcellina (Graciela Araya) and Bartolo (Jonathan Veira) suggesting what might be rekindled.
From the opening notes of the overture to the final curtain, Emilio Sagi’s classic, triumphant production fully brings to life all the elegant wit and theatricality of Mozart’s comic masterpiece.
Leading baritone Ludovic Tézier shines as the lustful Count Almaviva who attempts to obtain the favours of Figaro’s bride-to-be, Susanna (Isabel Rey), while Luca Pisaroni gives a feisty performance as Figaro. Conductor Jesús López Cobos masterfully captures the enchanting score. A witty yet profound tale of love, betrayal, and forgiveness.
Perhaps no opera is closely and affectionately associated with a single house as Le nozze di Figaro is with Glyndebourne. Effortlessly witty yet shot through with pain and sadness, this deeply ambivalent life in the day of masters and servants as they scheme and outwit one another was Glyndebourne's opening production in 1934. Michael Grandage's staging is the seventh, set in a louche Sixties ambience. Marshalled by the 'ideal pacing of Robin Ticciati, a youthful cast of principals has 'no weak link' and 'looks gorgeous' (The Sunday Times) in a production that continues Glyndebourne's rewarding history of engagement with Mozart's and da Ponte's 'day of madness'.
Recorded at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in June 2004, le Nozze de Figaro was unanimously acclaimed by public and critics alike as a Mozart opera landmark. Director Jean-Louis Martinoty brings an elegantly intelligent narrative sense to an interpretation in which the protagonists, against a backdrop of magnificent canvases of 18th- century inspiration, are dressed by Sylvie de Segonzac in a palette in which every shade is perfect.
On this 3-CD album Claudio Abbado brings to Figaro, Mozart's "sublime mixture of wit and melancholy" (Stendhal), "a keen sense of rhythm and texture and a very keen ear for orchestral detail" (Gramophone), with Cecilia Bartoli "ideally cast", an "enchanting" Sylvia McNair, and Cheryl Studer giving a "totally radiant performance"(The Penguin Guide).