There's no passion in Bonney's voice, especially in Mozart. It's ironic, really, that she talks so much in interviews about how it's essential to act through the voice in Mozart, and yet in practice this is the one area in which she fails. The quality of the voice itself is stunning - light, silvery, effortlessly beautiful. But there's not one drop of emotion in her singing, and that's what Mozart opera is all about - emotion. It's a shame, really, because I adore lighter voices for Mozart - larger voices are often too heavy and generally don't have the dramatic flexibility that lighter voices have. Mozart needs to be acted as well as sung, however, and no amount of pure vocal beauty will make up for that. My advice would be to go and buy Magdalena Kozena's or Bryn Terfel's all Mozart albums instead - not only do they have superb voices, but they're marvellous actors too. Bonney's interpretation just doesn't cut it for me, no matter how lovely her voice is, and the orchestral playing on this CD in general is pretty lifeless.
Barbara Bonney is a great singer. I just wonder if it is really Mozart she is singing here. There seems to be an assumption somewhere along the way that Mozart, because he lived in the eighteenth century, should be sung as if he was a porcelain statuette incapable of the emotions expressed in the texts to which his operas are set. There are some moments here that drive me more and more insane every time I hear them: especially in heart-rending arias like "Ach, ich fühl's" from The Magic Flute, which Bonney treats with very strange lightness. There is a case to be made for a restrained Mozart style, but it is not made here. Restrained should not mean totally indifferent-sounding. What becomes especially off-putting after repeated listenings are all the little calculated effects, e.g. where the voice suddenly falls off or becomes strangely breathy. Whether Bonney meant it or not, this volume just speaks insincerity with some of the greatest arias of opera.