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Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars

on 27 February 2012
I am no expert on this opera with its somewhat typical-for-the-period involved tale of love and betrayal, but this is a very fine disc. Produced by the same mob that did the excellent Barber of Seville, it is traditional with just a touch of modern clean lines here and there. The cast are outstanding and just about everyone looks the part. The short interview doco is very interesting and overall this is an outstanding contribution to opera on BD. No need to hesitate
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on 29 August 2017
Very good dvd
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on 29 October 2013
Superb performance, stage and musical direction, and magnificent voives! Gorgeous historical costumes, wonderful light and shadow effects. One of the best Nozzes you can get.

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This performance from 2009 is a new production of the opera by Emilio Sagi and is of the full non-cut version of the opera. This is important as it makes sure that the original balance of the composition as conceived by Mozart is retained with all characters fully drawn by the appropriate recitatives and arias. This desire for completeness was very important to Sagi and conductor Lopez Cobos as they individually explain in the accompanying bonus interview.

This approach extends to the staging which is not only generous in its sumptuousness but also manages to create a great sense of 3D. This is done through imaginative and frequent use of intermediate gauze curtaining beyond which relevant action continues supplementing that of the foreground. The fine costuming continues these themes of historically accurate and generous detailing.

In summary therefore it would be fair to state that this is a remarkably satisfying feast for the eyes and the senses in terms of staging.

Great attention has been brought to bear on the roles of all the characters seen on the stage at any one time and also wherever positioned both in terms of drama and stage depth. These roles never cease to act their parts fully in character even when not the prime focus of attention, thus giving a great boost to the continuing sense of reality. This was a prime aim of the director and in that he totally succeeds. He also has firmly established the various connections with Seville by underlining Mozart's inclusion of the Fandango which would have been known to both the Count and the Countess as well as Figaro. (See Rossini's Barber of Seville).

Musically this is a first rate production with characterful singing of accuracy delivered by everyone without exception. Tezier, as the Count, gives the most impressive performance I have ever seen from him largely because he is so fully inside the part that he is able to rise beyond the notes and is really able to communicate to those on stage throughout. He is ably supported by Barbara Frittoli as the Countess, now ten years older than when she gave a wonderful rendition of Mrs Ford, a Merry Wife of Windsor, in the Royal Opera's production of Verdi's Falstaff. At this point in the story she is just about the correct age to be believably paired with Tezier as his wife.

Luca Pisaroni is also outstanding as the rather naïve, young Figaro partnered by Isabel Rey as Susanna, his new wife, and claimed by Jeannette Fischer as Marcellina, ultimately revealed as his long-lost mother. Both sing and act their parts with all the skill resulting from years of operatic experience. However, as the clarity of the excellent recording only makes too clear, both of these women are about the same age as each other and certainly much more advanced in years as the much younger groom/son they covet. This, in a production that aims at such veracity of detail, may seem a little odd to some while others will not consider it a matter of importance especially as their roles are otherwise so well done. All the other parts are taken and delivered with equal commitment and complete conviction, and I include the many non-singing roles.

The recording provides excellent DTS-HD sound as well as stereo and reveals the excellence of the orchestra and the many orchestral details so frequently brought out by Lopos Corbos under his exhilarating musical direction. The visual recording is in the same league with crisp and accurate camera work. Technically we seem to be moving into a new era of technical excellence as this is not the only such example that I have been fortunate enough to experience lately.

This outstanding issue must surely please a great number of people for a great deal of the time. In my opinion it would be less than just to award less than the full 5 stars, so well done Teatro Real for yet another fine recording on your new `own' label.

Some dialogue from the comments section that may offer further help:

A feast for the eyes, but.....
When listening with headphones I sometimes noticed a slight roar or humming. Of course it's not loud, but in quiet passages(recitatives e.g.) a bit annoying.
Anyone else who has noticed that? (U.K. review)

I have not tested this issue in that way but the Shostakovich 5 on EuroArts clearly picks up the air conditioning low rumble which is particularly distracting in all quiet passages - and there are many. I shall check this issue with headphones when I have the chance but my sub woofer goes down to 13hz and would normally detect this sort of problem.
Ian Giles

You can hear it best in the first two acts. Afterwards it gradually decreases.
Air conditioning, yes, it sounds plausible. The recording was made in July, at that time it can be pretty hot in Madrid. (U.K. review)
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on 8 June 2012
There is a definite duality concerning the Zurich Opera House. On the one hand it succeeds in attracting such famous names as Jonas Kaufman and Cecilia Bartoli and can also draw on a fine selection of regular performers including Rodney Gilfry, Eva Mei, Carlos Chausson, Liliana Nikiteanu and Volker Vogel, who all appear in this 1996 production of Le Nozze di Figaro under the baton of Nikolaus Harnoncourt. On the other hand Zurich has gained over the years a deserved reputation for some highly original staging which sometimes borders on the offensive (Handel staged in a mental hospital) and is often controversial. As far as staging and costumes go this production is a mishmash of confusing styles with a marked absence of theme and continuity. The impression is given that the propertymaster has visited a local jumble sale in order to furnish the production. Many of the Zurich familiars are there including ladders, deckchairs and paintpots. The comedy, such as it is, remains at an almost slapstick level which includes Susanna throwing paint at Marcellina. There is also a strong sexual overtone (breasts abound) and here the affection in act two shown to the hapless Cherubino by the countess and Susanna is far too explicit. Other "giggles", which include Basilio sporting a knapsack, abound.

The pecularities of both staging and the abundance of physical comedy seriously detract from a proper appreciation of the music. Such is a particular problem in act one but matters do improve in the following three acts. The last two acts are staged on something not unlike a dustbin on Mars but act four benefits from the clever use of a revolving stage which greatly aids the numerous entries and exits of the complicated night-time garden scene.

The production is fortunate to enjoy the benefit of some fine singing (hence three stars). Rodney Gilfey is impressive as the count and succeeds admirably in establishing character. All five female roles are well sung with the versatile Eve Mei outstanding as the countess. Her two famous arias are high points of the production. As Figaro Carlos Chausson does not fare so well. His singing is acceptable but he has difficulty in conveying character and initially he is not helped by an inappropriate costume. A regular at Zurich Nikolaus Harnoncourt enjoys a famous reputation but on this occasion a certain lightness of touch is missing.

The production is essentially an essay in opera theatre and will not enjoy universal approval. In the 1990s as part of a Mozart series John Eliot Gardiner masterminded a very enjoyable traditional version of the opera again with Rodney Gilfrey impressive as the count. A stand-out Figaro is the fine Norwegian baritone Knut Skram who brings both charm and elegance to the role. This 1973 production from Glyndebourne also has the great attraction of providing an opportunity to hear Ileana Cotrubas, Kire Te Kanawa and Frederica von Stade at a relatively early stage in their careers.

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on 1 November 2014
The opening sequence whilst the overture is playing looks through a window centre stage at the comings and goings of the Counts household. I felt immediately that something special was afoot.
The sets are appropriate, not extravagant but quite impressive, from the big windows in The Countess bedroom with sunlight pouring in, to the dark garden with mistaken identities in the gloom, all make for interesting viewing.
The costumes all look in period, brightly coloured but not garish for the servants and mainly black and white for the four main protagonists.
The acting is excellent, lots of interaction and byplay keep ones attention, Antonio with his plantpots for instance.
The orchestra and continuo are crisp and well balanced to the singers.
Now to the singers, Luca Pisaroni and Isabel Rey are a very animated pair of lovers, Pisaroni has a rich baritone whilst Rey is a ringingly clear soprano.
Marcellina and Bartolo are not presented as buffoons either in dress or characterisation, but have just the right level of eccentricity. Fischer has a great voice and in her act 4 aria gets deserved appreciation. Chausson is also a good character singer. The pair are far more credible than in other performances that I have seen.
The same can also be said of Basilio, sung by Gimenez another spot on performance.
Tezier makes a wickedly scheming Count, and portrays his changes of mood with expertise both in action and voice, a good looking chap too.
Comparato is a nicely laddish Cherubino, does up quite nicely as a girl too in the presentation scene. Another good voice.
Cardoso in the small but pleasant role of Barbarina has another first class voice, very sweet on the ear.
Antonio the gardener, played by Sola has but a small voice role, and a small part to play, but provides some well timed amusement, watch him in the background, his mannerisms amuse me.
Perhaps I should not have kept Barbara Frittoli till last, but I am a bit biased, she is one of the named that I look out for. I first heard her as Liu in Turandot, and have been hooked ever since, her voice has matured and become fuller in the lower register, and here as the sad and much neglected Countess is absolutely wonderful. She too has some amusing moments, particularly in the bedroom scene, lots of hand signals and bewilderment.
The two disc set has an extra about the opera, the subtitles are needed, but it fell a bit flat.
The booklet has small print, sometimes gold on dark background for the listings and is not read easily, this also applies to the act arias and timings, but they are detailed.. The background notes and synopsis, act by act, are however informative and quite interesting.
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on 14 May 2009
This 1996 prodution from the Zurich Opera House has a lot to recomend
it. First of all, Carlos Chausson as Figaro and Isabel Rey as
Susanna make a convincing couple in the most traditional musical sense,
as do Elisabeth Von Magnus as Marcellina and Robert Holl as Bartolo.
Von Magnus does appear to be remarkably youthful, a situation
which somewhat reduces the character's credibility without however,
reducing the First Act's sense of realism.
The feeling of watching a somewhat static performance is enhanced by
the arrival of Cherubino, played by an extremely boyish and erotic
looking Liliana Nikiteanu, whose entrance is more laconic and
self-assured than is the case with the majority of productions of
this opera which I have encountered on DVD.
That said, Nikiteanu continues to give a performance that reflects
her character's state of impassioned infatuation imbued with an
appearance which could well mirror the sensual effect to which
this Cherubino himself is subject to.
Rodney Gilfry as Almaviva acts and sings as if born to the role.
His portrayal of the Count's arrogance and sexual frustration
must rank amongst the best ever recorded.

Although everyone appears to be dressed in period costume,
there is still a sense of delocation with the whole production,
perhaps this is the result of having to look at decorating
equipment during the course of the opera.
This type of stage-scenery has been used in other produtions of
this work, and the conclusion to be drawn from this is that the
redecoration in progress in the opera resembles the impending
social upheaval which would soon engulf the whole structure of
ruling class thought and action.

All things considered, this DVD represents an enjoyable account
of this timeless masterpiece and is well worth the money if only
to experience a definitive Cherubino and an impressive Count.
A Four Star rating well deserved.
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on 4 October 2003
Having heard bits of pieces over a few days I wasn't too enthusiastic, as I sat down to have a real go at it. I was quickly persuaded, though, that this production, scenically and musically, is so stubbornly individualistic and so grandly conceived that you are liable to forgive anything. Flimm's vision is unremittingly downbeat, and in ominously dark hues Wonder's sets evoke Hiroshima and other stuff that was obviously not in Da Ponte's or Mozart's minds. Without the showmanship and professionalisme and sheer singlemindedness of vision this 'Figaro' would drown, but instead it soars. The music-making, with its raw energy, magnificent arches and heavy accents, often reminds you more of late Verdi and even Wagner than of conventional Mozart playing, and occasionally the singing suffers slightly, but it is worth it. Gilfry is superb in the title role, as devastating an actor as he is a singer. The DVD is state-of-the-art brilliant, sharp, densely textured, rich, the sound is perfect. Warning: don't go near this 'Figaro', if you are afraid of getting burnt!
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on 24 October 2004
There is a certain gloom to this interpretation of Le Nozze di Figaro. It brings out the seriously dramatic potential of the story rather than the humourous. At first I was a bit negative about that, but having now watched it twice I think it works well enough. There are top performances from all the main cast. Perhaps the first act could have been more dynamic; one gets the impression that the performers are just a little bit out of touch during the first half hour; that they need to warm up and get the feeling. But they do get the feeling as they go on, and the performance reaches some marvellous climaxes, which are really terrific. Both singing and acting are excellent. I am particularly fond of Rodney Gilfry as Count Almaviva and Isabel Rey as Susanna, but Eva Mei, Carlos Chausson and Liliana Nikiteanu are great too. So all in all this is a fine, albeit rather darkish, production of Figaro, very interesting as an alternative to the more traditional ones.
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on 15 January 2005
The stars of this performance are the female singers, who are, without exception, exceptional. It is worth buying the opera just to hear Nikiteanu as Cherabino - a convincing and attracting boy singing with all the beauty, sexual longing and Narcissism one could desire. Isabel Rey is, as always, in full command of one of the most emotive, sweet and evocative voices in opera. Specially impressive is Eva Mei - one sits almost breathless listening to her arias (which one unfortunately cannot say about other performers in this part - their arias can often seem to simply hold up the performance). Not so with Mei - and she has a wonderful face, a fascinating counterpart to the pert Susanna. Elisabeth von Magnus is magnificent as Marcellina - a true presence and a perfect voice. And Lisa Larsson's Barberina's one sad song is haunting. The males, alas! are less well cast. Rodney Gilfry remains Don Giovanni: he does not have the personality to act as a (at least occasionally) pompous buffoon, which the Count - after all, the dupe of the women-folk - often is. But his voice is, of course, excellent. Carlos Chausson is a fairly awful Figaro. His voice lacks depth and emotion, holding one tone and one expression; he is pretty much a dead loss as an actor, as well. But the other men keep up with the women. Volker Vogel is a truly comic Basilio with a special smug but interesting tenor; and Robert Holl's Bartolo is a great counterpart to von Magnus. The stage directing is a bit over-done, with too much action spoiling some of the comic scenes. The music, as directed by Harnancourt, is, of course, quite delightful.
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