I have multiple versions of the great operatic works and I thought that it might be helpful if I posted my thoughts on my favourite recordings.
I've already written about my enthusiasm for the Chandos Opera in English series and although I would not trade it for one of my favourite versions in Italian, this English "Marriage of Figaro" is a winner and no mistake!
For me, Mozart works rather better in English than, say, Verdi or Puccini and the cast of singing actors enunciate the excellent English translation with crystal clarity both in aria and in recitative.
Christopher Purves, whose career has really blossomed in the years since this recording, is a splendidly sung, forthright Figaro and he is well partnered by that excellent soprano Rebecca Evans. Yvonne Kenny and Diana Montague sing well as the Countess and Cherubino, but both have been caught a little late in their careers; Montague might have been better deployed as Marcellina, here performed unconvincingly by Frances McCafferty, normally one of one of my favourite singers and a memorable presence on stage. William Dazeley sings well as the Count, although a little more weight of tone would have given his characterization an extra ounce of menace. Sarah Tynan is a delightful Barbarina, while the comic supporting roles are in the capable hands of John Graham-Hall (a wickedly funny Basilio, who, like Marcellina, is denied his aria), Jonathon Veira (a bombastic Bartolo), Graeme Danby (a hilarious Geordie Antonio) and Stuart Kale (an unexaggerated Curzio).
David Parry's conducting is "correct", no more, but the recorded sound is excellent and although I would buy this in preference to a version in Italian, this is a fine recording in its own right which I recommend enthusiastically, especially to those who like their opera in English.