- Audio CD
- Number of Discs: 1
- Label: ja
- ASIN: B0000040YF
- Other Editions: Audio CD
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 379,510 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
Mozart - Le nozze di Figaro / Marriner (Highlights)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
Popp (Countess), Raimondi (Count) and Baltsa (Cherubino) five star worthy, especially Hendricks, Popp and Raimondi. However,
I find Jose Van Dam an unattractive Figaro. His voice sounds unfocussed and wooly c.f. Siepi for Kleiber and Prey for
Bohm. Both Popp and Hendricks sing with luscious tone and dramatic focus. Popp is far from monochromatic, maintaining a regal presence, while becoming deeply wounded by her husband's faithlessness before his Act IV apology (whether or not
the repentance lasts is moot). Marriner secures zesty playing from the ASMF but I would like less speed and more dramatic
expression along the way. Bohm/DG/1968 and Ponto/Japan/1963/Ponto and Kleiber/Decca (see my reviews) remain preferable, but the contributions of Popp, Hendricks, Raimondi
and Baltsa plus those in minor roles such as Felicity Palmer, Robert Lloyd and Aldo Baldin are not negligible.
Van Dam and Hendricks are ok as Figaro and Susanna, but they are certainly overshadowed by their counterparts; Taddei and Moffo on Giulini's set, Mathis and Prey on Bohms set, and Popp and Ramey on Solti's set.
Speaking of Popp that is the biggest misfire on this set. Popp has always been one of my favorite sopranos but her Countess is VERY lacking and does not contain the emotion or grace of that of Kanawa, Schwartzkopf, Price, Janowitz, or Fleming.
Marriners conducting, as usual, is brilliant, but the short comings of the cast (on all the principle roles) does not compensate for the brilliant conducting.
If you're interested in Figaro I much recommend Giulini's, Bohm's, Muti's, and Solti's sets far above this one. Those are my four favorites.
If you are an avid Figaro nut then this will be fine to add to your collection, I am - but I won't be adding this one. It did nothing for me.
Note - The Giulini Figaro is only about 22 bucks for the whole thing.
So where do I start? Well, let's begin with Lucia Popp whose performance seems to have aroused a certain amount of contention between the other reviewers. For me, she gives an unsurpassed performance as the Countess, combining the pride and dignity of her status with the poignant tragedy of a woman who has lost the affection of the only man she has ever loved. A truly wonderful legacy of a great singer.
Barbara Hendricks gives a perfectly adequate performance,although I would prefer a rather more lively Susanna than she shows in her solo arias. However, her ensemble singing is excellent, and the duet with Popp 'Che soave zeffiretto' a truly memorable performance - much better than that heard in the 'Shawshank Redemption'!
Jose van Dam's 'angry' Figaro can be slightly off-putting to people used to other portrayals, but for me, epitomises the character's total bewilderment at his inability to control events as he has been in the habit of doing (remember, this is the sequel to the Barber of Seville)and makes his scene with Susanna in the final Act (where he pretends to mistake her for the Countess) so much more effective. As for his interaction with the Count - it just continues the splendid partnership he shared with Raimondi in the wonderful Losey film of Don Giovanni.
And what of the Count, himself? A vintage (champagne, that is) Raimondi performance (in a role which is not one of his favourites) - need, I say more? Never believe that on a CD it doesn't matter whether or not a singer can ACT! It is even MORE important that,in the absence of visual aids, a performer can by the 'shading' and timbre of his voice portray the character's emotions. Suffice it to say, that his Count is arrogant, obstinate, self-deluded, completely maddening and totally irresistable!
As for the 'minor' roles, Aldo Baldin (Basilio) Robert Lloyd (Bartolo),Donald Maxwell ((Antonio) and Neil Jenkins (Don Curzio)all give marvellous performances. Agnes Baltsa, as one would expect from this talented and vastly under-rated singer, is an almost perfect Cherubino, and Catherine Pope (Barbarina) sings like an angel in the hauntingly beautiful 'L'ho perduto...me meschina' - and all for a lost pin!
As if all this weren't enough, Neville Marriner shows why he is considered by many to be the greatest interpreter of Mozart in living memory. I can't believe that anyone should praise the Muti recording (wonderful,like all his performances, if you happen to be a Muti fan, dreadful if,like me, you adore Mozart's music) and Abbado's which, is adequate, but certainly not memorable.
Having said all this about the individual roles, I believe that it is in the ensembles that this recording far outshines all other performances. Here you have great singers , not one of whom feels the slightest need PROVE that they are by dominating the performance [How I wish the likes of Te Kanawa, Pavarotti (in his hey-day), Domingo(to a certain extent), Milnes, and latterly, the vastly over-rated Tyrfel would learn this lesson]. Their job (a mundane word, but that, after all, is what it is) is to be the MEDIUM through which the composer's ideas are transmitted, NOT to endeavour to show the world what great singers THEY are. After all,if they paid more attention to the music, maybe (just maybe) all the glory they seek would naturally come their way.
And finally, a word about the record companies. How long are we, the consumers, to put up with accountants telling us which recordings we want to listen to? How can you get through to such people that newer doesn't necessarily mean better? If Philips have definitely discontinued this marvellous recording, then I can only hope that the splendid 'Opera D'Oro' will re-release it. Maybe, Amazon, as a major retail outlet, could help in this regard.
I find Raimondi's style very distracting. His emotional range is excellent but his jarring speech-like singing is very annoying. Popp has some nice arias but gets drowned out during the common moments of the Act 4 finale. Someone has already mentioned that Baltsa is a bit of wonky Cherubino so I won't worry about saying anything more on her. Hendricks is a light and delicate Susanna while Van Dam is a dark and dreary Figaro.
Three stars for "good but not great"...