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16
3.6 out of 5 stars
Mozart: Le Nozze di Figaro (Marriage of Figaro)
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on 25 December 2004
I resisted buying this recording because I have always felt the 1950s Gui Glyndebourne recording was my ideal. But my curiosity finally got the better of me and I have just listened to the complete opera. It is quite overwhelming, a stunning revelation and fully justified of all the praise accorded it.
I do not know what equipment some of the the amazon.com reviwers have been using and do not agree with their less than enthusiastic comments. Yes, the orchestral playing and direction are outstanding - and the continuo playing the freshest and finest I have ever heard, either 'live' or on disc. But the soloists are also excellent, wonderfully conveying all the different shades of the drama.
In my view, unquestionably one of the finest opera recordings on CD.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 13 May 2006
Right from the start of the introduction René Jacobs and the concerto Koln grab your attention, and continue to do so with the fantastic singers, exciting tempi and beautiful ornamentations. The voice that particularly struck me out of all of the cast was that of the Italian soprano Patrizia Ciofi playing Susanna on this recording. She captures all of the elements of this character with great humour and delicacy, patricularly the fantastic "Venite inginocchiatevi". Her use of ornamentation in her final aria "Deh vieni non tardar" is quite spectacular; seemingly effortless and breathtakingly beautiful.

In this recording there is this fantastic sense of the lives of the servants and of the true story of Figaro in this recording; the patter scenes are genuinely funny, there is a great rapport between characters and the Italian is clear and precise. The singers on this disc are all fantastic! Particularly Simon Keenlyside's magnificent Count and Marie McLaughlin's devious Marcellina.

Possibly the only slight disappointment is the interpretation of the Countess by Véronique Gens, abeit a very beautiful sounding voice but never the less I feel that she does not display the many colours of the Countess and, at times, seems rather monotonous in her interpretation.

All in all, this disc is fantastic and I would recommend it to anyone as it's winning feature is the bringing to life of Beaumarchais wonderful characters through Mozart's incredible music and Da Ponte's fantastic libretto!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 17 November 2007
This being an opera buffa, the relatively fast tempi chosen by Rene Jacobs, the conductor, seem like an appropriate choice. The selection of singers is excellent. I was especially impressed with Veronique Gens as the Countess, Patricia Ciofi as Susanna, Lorenzo Regazzo as Figaro, and Simon Keenlyside as the Count. Rene Jacobs paid a great attention to even smallest details.

The only aspect of this production that I did not like is the ornaments, even though they were added sparingly and judiciously. There is nothing wrong with ornamentation per se; it is just a question of taste.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 18 October 2004
this is truly a stunning recording from start to finish. i suspect the previous reviewers may require hearing examinations (and possibly some earwax removing fluid?). this is an essential purchase for all those who love Mozart and will convert his doubters. little wonder that this set won the Gramophone Record Of The Year award...
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 5 June 2009
This set renewed my appreciation for Mozart's great opera. It is rougher and less smooth than we're used to, with period instruments and tempi which suggest Mozart for the subversive he undoubtably was. The cast is brilliant - just listen to he solos, especially Susanna as she's dressing up Cherubino - utter magic. Strongly recommended to renew your love of the greatest master of opera.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 29 May 2011
I am surprised to see how sharply this recording divides ciritical opinion. I think that any recording of Figaro, one of the greatest human (if not the absolutely greatest) achievements in comic opera is likely to divide opinion, but I feel that some of the reviewers may be taking excessively positive or negative views on this. I would, if I may, redress some of the balance by arguing that this is a good, and at times very good interpretation, even if in my view it is not one for REPEATED hearings. Jacobs is undouybtedly an outstanding musician who has offered us some of the greatest Mozart recordings, including his Cosi and Clemenza. His re-invention of the continuo parts, his agile but not rushed ensemble pieces and hisexcellent recording quality is all to the good. I would hate to be without this Figaro - yet, I do not find it the recording that gives me consistent pleasure. Why? First - the apoggiaturas. Jacobs in his essay offers a sound account that singers in Mozart's time concluded musical phrases by either rising the penultimate note a tone above the written not or, occasionally, by dropping it half a tone below. I can accept this - but not as a routine practice that ends up disfiguring every musical phrase. In fact, I would use Jacobs' own argument against wall-to-wall rubato against this wall-to-wall apoggiatura practice that he encourages his singers to do.

Two - the decorations. Again, Jacobs offers excellent evidence that Mozart wanted his singers to decorate repeats of arias, that few did it well and the majority did it badly. In the theatre, the audience is perfectly happy to forgive an 'unsuccessful' decoration, but not so on repeated hearings of an opera on cd. I really find many of the decorations in this recording tiring and predictable and I, personally, prefer the undecorated repeats of traditional recordings. I am sure that other listeners disagree with me - this is just a personal taste.

Three - I am not happy with the excessive use of 'funny voices' indulged by Jacobs' singers. At times, these totally disfigure divine music as the absolutely divine sextet of recognition in the third act, which Mozart alledgedly asked his friends to sing at his deathbed, which in this rendering is totally spoiled by the ridiciculous voices adopted by the Don Curzio character. The same happens in the Act 2 glorious finale, spoiled by the ridiculous over-acting of the gardener and several other characters. I really do not like my recorded operas to have voices from the Ministry of Funny Talks, even if in the theatre I often delight in them.

Four - the recitatives. Jacobs in his accompanying essay offers some evidence that recitatives composed in 7- or 11- syllables require a pause at the end of each line. In my view, this simply does not work and makes them sound affected and unlike ordinary speech. In truth, I found many of the recitatives much less convincing than those sang by native Italians, as for example, in the Giulini recording.

Don't get me wrong - this is an interesting and even vibrant recording. It is just not one to which I will return as often as I do the the Giulini, Solti, Bohm and Kleiber recordings. The singers are good, but honestly, they are not in the league of the Schwarzkopffs, the Fischer Dieskaus, the Taddeis and the Janowitzs of the past. I simply cannot understand how anyone would compare the very competent and sincere Patrizia Cioffi (with her exaggerated voice-acting and irritating lithp) with the great Suzannas of the past.

Overall I am delighted that Jacobs has committed his interpretation to cd and I am sure that in 10 or 20 years' time it will be seen as an important recording landmark for the work. It just does not give me as much pleasure as many of the older recordings.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Well, what can I say, this is the best recording of this opera I've heard yet. Its funny, incredibly sexy, intelligent and entertaining - surely just how Mozart would have wanted it!
In my opinion the cast, especially Simon Keenlyside, are wonderful, as is the musicianship of the orchestra and its conductor. A fine interpretation of one of the greatest operas.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 3 April 2004
I would recommend this album strongly to the neophyte opera fan and the old soldier in the trenches of opera.
The orchestra and vocalists wonderful, the period instruments well played and pianoforte a joy to hear. The singers are, to a person, in perfect pitch, tone and enunciation. The later I especially appreciate due to a hearing problem. Please note the performances of Lorenzo Regazzo as Figaro, Veronique Gens as the Countess, Angelika Kirchschlager as Cherubino and, last, but certainly not least Simon Keenlyside as the Count.
If you like neo-classical recordings and exquisite singing (and vocal acting) this is the recording for you.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 3 June 2013
Thoroughly eccentric all round. If you already have a dozen recordings of this opera already, it's a genuine novelty, but often rather too clever for its own good. An interesting exercise in pushing boundaries, but without achieving anything truly great as a result.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 21 January 2005
Wonderful, energetic recording. I too think that Mozart himself would have liked this, it's sparkling and you really get into it the atmosphere! Very good sound quality. The only negative bit: the ouverture sounds to me as if the musicians were in a hurry to get it over with. Tempo too fast, and it even accelerates towards the end. Pity. Apart from that, lovely.
Dazzling singers.
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