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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite Figaro so far
I have three DVDs (Gardiner, Harnencourt and this Bohm) several CDs (including Gui, Davis) and I have seen many productions. This has long been my favourite production. I understand some people's irritation with Ponnelle's voice-over techniques, but they seem to me legitimate in a film. Hardly anywhere does the filming seem to interfere unnecessarily with the music...
Published on 27 Jun 2005 by Stephen Evans

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lip synched production lacking in humour
Maybe I have a different DVD to others, but my recording seemed to have two problems: the sound and action were not synched, or maybe they were miming - badly; and the sound was not located where the voices came from, an effect compounded by the lip synching problem. These two problems ruined a lavish and attractive production which was strangely lacking in humour. The...
Published 9 months ago by C. D. Vanderweele


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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite Figaro so far, 27 Jun 2005
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Stephen Evans (Shropshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mozart - Le Nozze Di Figaro (Bohm) [DVD] [2005] (DVD)
I have three DVDs (Gardiner, Harnencourt and this Bohm) several CDs (including Gui, Davis) and I have seen many productions. This has long been my favourite production. I understand some people's irritation with Ponnelle's voice-over techniques, but they seem to me legitimate in a film. Hardly anywhere does the filming seem to interfere unnecessarily with the music. Savour this for its performances, particularly Fischer-Dieskau and Prey, Te Kanewa, Freni and show-stealing Ewing. If you have any doubts about the quality of the production watch Act II and see the way the sub-texts, highlighted in the music, are made comically evident. I admit the last act is something of an anti climax to the middle acts - but then perhaps it is in actuality. This production convinced me once again that Figaro is perhaps the greatest opera ever written. Perhaps not my favourite - that would perhaps be Cosi - but by far the most densely figured and socially perceptive of operas, certainly the most perfect marriage of music, theatre and narrative. I know it is often said that Da Ponte softened Beaumarchais' social comment. There's plenty in Mozart's and Da Ponte's work if more subtly featured. None is missed in this DVD.
I love the rich, dark Harnencourt Figaro and have fallen in love with Alison Hagley's Susanna (a lighter and more mercurial Susanna that the measured calm of Freni) in the Gardiner; but if you can only have one, then do not miss the Ponnelle. If you already have the video, as I had, rest assured the quality leap of the DVD is worth the expense.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superlative in every way, 22 Sep 2007
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This review is from: Mozart - Le Nozze Di Figaro (Bohm) [DVD] [2005] (DVD)
I cannot rate this film of perhaps my favourite Mozart Opera highly enough. It has everything ... beauty, wit, charm and above all the depth of the passion is brought out through the beauty of the music so eloquently performed by the artists.

The only very slight criticism I have is that Susanna looks so similar to Cherubino!!! A very minor detail.

Please do choose this as your first option you really will not regret it.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The wedding of Suzanna, 24 Jun 2007
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P. Pieters (The Netherlands) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mozart - Le Nozze Di Figaro (Bohm) [DVD] [2005] (DVD)
What struck me most in this Nozze di Figaro is the fun Mirella Freni has as Suzanna. She is realy enjoying herself. And that works very infectious. Mirella Freni is the star of this Nozze di Figaro. The rest of the cast is also appealing. Karl Böhm doesn't rush the story but supports it with beautiful playing. The story is filmed as a movie. Voice-overs are a movie technique. They don't bother me. You hear what people are thinking. A very recommended Nozze di Figaro.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superlative, 13 Mar 2009
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B. Walker (Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mozart - Le Nozze Di Figaro (Bohm) [DVD] [2005] (DVD)
Can this production really be over 30 years old!

The finest production of the finest opera in the repertoire. Ponnelle captures the essence of opera buffa with brilliant direction and camera work. Like all great productions, there no weaknesses. Buffa requires slightly over-the-top characterisations and Ponnelle manages just that; no wooden acting here. If one had to single out one performance, it must be that of Maria Ewing's Cherubino....from the direction her career took from this point is surely life imitating art.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfection!, 14 Feb 2012
The received wisdom is that a 1966 Salzburg Festival production of Le Nozze di Figaro will surely be unbearably outdated and will contain wooden performances with little directorial intervention/invention. Think again. This production has THE perfect cast, both musically and visually. Claire Watson in the role of the Countess was one of the world's great sopranos, and was at the height of her powers here. 'Dove sono' had me on the verge of tears. Sadly, although she was 39 at the time of this recording, she had only a further 20 years to live. Reri Grist is thankfully still with us; she is a superb Susanna, beautiful, playful, seductive AND hits all the notes with exquisite ease. Walter Berry is the perfect foil, and a genuine comic turn. Ingvar Wixell is a truly villainous Count, dominating the stage with his furious outbursts, and Edith Mathis, playing Cherubino, is at once sexy and boyish. Karl Bohm's conducting is a revelation. I had always associated him with rather dour performances of Mozart symphonies but in this performance the rhythmic energy is palpable, making the 3 hours duration whiz past. I guess some may take issue with singers bowing to the audience after arias, but to me that just made it more charming. I rapidly adapted to the dated black and white imagery, and the sound is remarkably good for its age.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A studio "Figaro", 23 Sep 2012
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M. Joyce (Cairo, Egypt) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mozart - Le Nozze Di Figaro (Bohm) [DVD] [2005] (DVD)
A number of excellent DVD versions of Mozart's great opera are available on Amazon (my personal favourites are the two Glyndebourne performances, from the 70s and 90s respectively), but as far as I am aware, this is the only filmed "studio" performance. The direction is by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle and the sets and costumes are both ravishingly beautiful and conventional. The production is in fact resolutely traditional, apart from the fact that in some arias, we hear the characters' "thoughts" while the singers's lips remain closed; it's a nice idea, but as opera is hardly a realistic medium to start with, it all seems a bit pointless. Another odd moment (and I'm not sure that this isn't a fault) is that the film "freezes" for a few moments during the great sextet. Still, this is an excellent "Figaro "and from a musical point of view, it is outstanding.

Karl Böhm was one of the great Mozart conductors and his four principal singers could hardly be bettered, even if a couple of them appear a little long in the tooth for their parts in unforgiving close-up. The best performance comes from Mirella Freni as Susanna, but Kiri te Kanawa sings gorgeously as the Countess and Fischer-Dieskau is an aristocratic, slightly over-emphatic Count. Hermann Prey had one of the most beautiful baritone voices of his generation and he copes with ease of Figaro's low tessitura and endows the part with both geniality and passion. Maria Ewing is a suitably coltish Cherubino, while the supporting roles are in the capable hands and voices of a choice group of character singers, with Heather Begg and Paolo Montarsolo offering us a marvellously grotesque double act as Marcellina and Bartolo.

This is not a perfect "Figaro", but you would struggle to find a better cast and I defy anyone not to enjoy it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful perfomance of a wonderful production of a miraculous opera, 8 April 2013
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I recently purchased this on Amazon and have been asked to comment on the DVD. Benjamin Britten once described “Le Nozze di Figaro” as “this miracle”: if any proof were still needed of that description’s truth, this performance provides it.
Some caveats: it’s b/w and mono – this didn’t bother me: the sound is good, as is the film quality. More problematic, the cuts - why are there any? The musical style is typical of the mid-60s and might seem a little dated to modern ears. And as the reviewer Bonzo has said, there is a constant taking of bows after arias, which (unlike him/her) I find very annoying (the cast is first rate and the applause extensive).
Sets and costumes are trad and attractive, but there is nothing “sugar and spice” about Rennert’s direction: without being “in-your-face” it deals with a specific (ie feudal) social situation in all its nastiness. The Count sees nothing inconsistent with wanting to bed his wife’s maid, while being pathologically jealous (plus ca change). The Countess, to win back her husband, needs Susanna’s help and does things which she finds demeaning and hurtful. Susanna needs all her wits to fend off the Count’s advances but her economic position depends on him; Figaro, who throughout needs to think on his feet, is also careful not cross class lines too obviously. It remains wonderfully funny, but it is also disturbing. There are lovely small touches showing the relationships between the various characters.
Claire Watson, a fine Ellen Orford and Sieglinde, is lovely as the Countess: I will just add to Bonzo’s comments that I have rarely been so convinced that the Countess was, a few years previously, Rosina, the clever young woman who outwitted Dr Bartolo and married the man she still loves. The reprise of Dove Sono, slightly muted, was deeply moving: but the feisty-ness remains.
I was surprised at just how good Walter Berry was as Figaro: the musicianship was never in doubt, of course, but his portrayal is very serious: in the first scene we get the feeling that Susanna’s words remind him that he is again Almaviva’s servant. Da Ponte’s adaptation of Beaumarchais omits the revolutionary character of Figaro’s last act speech, but this is no mere quick-witted practical joker – he resents the social servitude in which he now finds himself.
Ingvar Wixell conveys the Count’s thoroughly unpleasant (rather than, as Bonzo says, villainous) character: he believes he’s in the right. Regretting giving up the “droit de seigneur”, he wants to exercise that “right” by other means and is furious that his servants won’t concede.
Reri Grist is perfect as Susanna. Her light, beautiful voice manages everything that Mozart requires with ease and grace of line, as if it’s the most natural thing in the world, while conveying Susanna’s whole character, every mood change, all her quick-witted reactions. She is also vulnerable – when she thinks Figaro is going to marry Marcellina, she is both hurt and angry (we usually get the latter but rarely the former). Her “Deh vieni, non tardar” is simply gorgeous, that glint is enough to scorch the stage. She obviously reminds the Countess of herself as Dr Bartolo’s ward, so despite the class difference (of which the Countess remains conscious) there is immense sympathy between the two – the “Canzonetta sull’aria” is ravishing.
Edith Mathis looks and acts like the testosterone-fuelled adolescent that is Cherubino, mad for anything in a skirt, doting on the Countess and singing beautifully: again, a lovely performance.
Karl Bohm doesn’t put a foot (or a beat) wrong and the Vienna Phil play like – well, the Vienna Phil. From the very first bars of the overture, we get the feeling that Bohm knows exactly where this opera is going, what it is going to say, how it will say it, and how it will end. A must for any DVD collection.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lip synched production lacking in humour, 29 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Mozart - Le Nozze Di Figaro (Bohm) [DVD] [2005] (DVD)
Maybe I have a different DVD to others, but my recording seemed to have two problems: the sound and action were not synched, or maybe they were miming - badly; and the sound was not located where the voices came from, an effect compounded by the lip synching problem. These two problems ruined a lavish and attractive production which was strangely lacking in humour. The cast did all the things required by the plot, but it just wasn't funny, which is odd for what is, often, a laugh-out-loud opera. My feeling is that the camera angles and cutting reduced the humour.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great opera, 27 April 2013
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This review is from: Mozart - Le Nozze Di Figaro (Bohm) [DVD] [2005] (DVD)
Already watched this opera on an old video but this DVD is great, good quality which really enhanced the viewing. Fantastic opera from start to finish.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enduring reminder of a golden age, 2 April 2013
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A soprano duet from Le Nozze Di Figaro features prominently in the prison drama "The Shawshank Redemption" and showcases the talents of the Swiss soprano Edith Mathis (then singing the role of Susanna) together with Gundula Janowitz. A Mozart specialist Edith Mathis is quite well represented on CD but only two perfomances are available in the current DVD catalogue. In addition to singing Cherubino in the 1966 production of Le Nozze Di Figaro performed at the Salburger Festpielhaus, under the baton of Karl Bohm, the singer makes an engaging Annchen in the 1968 opera film from Hamburg of Der Freischutz masterminded by Rolf Liebermann.

Any reservations that the black and white record of this vintage production could be seriously dated is quickly disproved for not only is it a record of truly excellent musicianship but the acting is also very acceptable. That said this well staged traditional production belongs to a golden age when opera performers were singers first and actors second. There is nothing in the acting that could be described as "stand and deliver" but in addition to a multitude of curtain calls the performer also takes a bow at the end of a famous solo. A pleasing manifestation of the production is that the three soprano leads represent women of considerable resolution with an elegant countess, blessed with backbone, well capable of standing up to a domineering husband, a feisty and seductive Susanna and a smartly dressed boyish Cherubino, who is not portrayed as a wimpish misfit.

The production is fortunate to have five outstanding singers who adhere to a fine vocal line complete with excellent phrasing and diction. The stand-out is Reri Grist as Susanna who simply could not be bettered. She is well partnered by Walter Berry who makes a very acceptable comedic figure of Figaro. There is fine singing from Ingvar Wixell as the autocratic bullying count, always capable of dominating the stage. Then in her prime the sadly short lived
Claire Watson triumphs as the countess. Her rendering of Dove Sono is received with prolonged and well deserved applause. Edith Mathis completes this great quintet. The production owes much to Karl Bohm who maintains a lively pace throughout

The current catalogue boasts a large number of DVD recordings of this famous opera but this vintage production has few, if any, rivals. One of particular interest is the 1973 production from Glyndebourne when listeners can hear Ileana Cotrubas, Kiri Te Kanawa and Frederica Von Stade at a comparatively early stage in their careers. This production also contains an excellent performance by Knut Skram, the only Figaro to rival Walter Berry. The traditionally minded viewer should avoid the 1996 mismash production from Zurich for the incessant clowning detracts from an appreciation of the singing of such accomplished performers as Eva Mei, Isobel Rei and Rodney Gilfey

Trottman
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Mozart - Le Nozze Di Figaro (Bohm) [DVD] [2005]
Mozart - Le Nozze Di Figaro (Bohm) [DVD] [2005] by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle (DVD - 2005)
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