If this opera features in everyone's top ten favourites, then the respective merits of some likely candidates for purchase should be discussed and shared on the internet.
I have never felt that this forty-year-old set shows its age in any way. It boasts the best recording producer (Walter Legge) and the best recording venue (Kingsway Hall, London) of their day. Conductor Giulini is scrupulously loyal to the score. Listen carefully, and you'll hear that distinctions between mezzo forte and forte are observed. There is, moreover, no playing for laughs here. Mozart's music and Da Ponte's libretto are allowed to speak for themselves. Access to the libretto is made even easier by the inclusion of a nice fat booklet with this 2 CD set, providing the original text with an English translation, and a synopsis in English, German and French. Access to the music is enhanced by excellent recording sound quality. The potential of stereophonic recording is successfully exploited also, helping us to hear, as it were, characters moving around on a stage - being locked in wardrobes, jumping out of windows, etc.
Enshrined in this recording are at least two immortal performances. Elisabeth Schwarzkopf's countess is vocally and histrionically ideal. Giuseppe Taddei's Figaro is the other stand out performance here - even if he opts for a higher alternative C at the end of his Act 1 aria, instead of the one Mozart wrote. Anna Moffo provides a lovely "Deh vieni non tardar" in the last act, singing with even legato without too much portamento. It seems unwise to nominate stand out performances here, however. Rarely has an opera recording been so well cast.
All of which, I hope, suggests that this is a "Figaro" that will provide unconditional and repeated enjoyment. It is also a bargain "Figaro". By omitting 2 of the 29 numbers Mozart provided for the original Vienna production - unimportant Act 4 arias for Bartolo and Marcellina - everything else fits perfectly onto just 2 CDs.