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on 16 March 2010
I bought this DVD as I thought it was about time I branched out into enjoying some of Mozart's other operas after a life-long love of his marvellous work 'Don Giovanni'. I picked this particular production purely based on the fact that I am a fan of baritone Peter Mattei (who plays Count Almaviva).

Upon first watching of this DVD, it became evident that the standard of acting and singing was nothing short of brilliant. The interactions between the characters was wonderful, humourous and touching. Particularly notable was the lady who played Cherubino, who makes a very convincing teenage boy and sang the role wonderfully. Peter Mattei also shone as the Count, and played this character with great depth. His portrayal of the count as a ridiculous and laughable skirt-chaser in full 'mid life crisis' mode added great humour to the work, but he was also able to show convincing depth in the more touching and serious moments.

Despite the wonderful music, singing, and acting, this production is quite the ugliest thing imaginable in terms of scenery and costumes etc. The constumes look vaguely 'modern' but in an awfully shabby and dated 'just bought from the nearest charity shop' kind of way. In terms of scenery, I dont know where to start. All the action appears to take place in or around some sort of wedding registry office and bridal gown fitting room, regardless of where the scene is supposed to be set at the time. I suppose the director would argue this has some sort of 'symbolic' meaning, but it does make the story rather confusing, unbelievable, and ridiculous. I am in favour of modern stage settings, but this seems to be trying to be making an 'artisic' statment to the detriment of the plot and feel of the opera.

Other strange elements to this already confused production, would be the musical addition of the glass harmonica and beer bottles which are used to toot a tune into at various intervals. I'm no expert, but I doubt that was in the original manuscript. Quite the strangest thing of all is the few glimpses we are given above the stage scenery, of what appears to be some stuffed farmyard animals artisically placed there for reasons that are unknown or unexplained and completely baffling. One suspects that given the opportunity to ask the director, you would be given some long-winded explanation of the symbolic meaning behind each of his odd decisions. Without this luxury though, I couldnt help but find it all ridiculous and completely unrelated to the actual meaning and spirit of the opera.

This production is one for the very open-minded. Traditionalists will tear their hair out at the sight of it. However, if you are able or willing to see past the awful scenery etc, the quality of the performances and orchestra make this still a thoroughly enjoyable work.
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on 20 November 2015
Arrived within timeframe. Disc appears in good condition for the price which was excellent. Peter Mattei has a beautiful baritone voice and I was very impressed by him when I saw him in Berlin before ordering this title so I look forward to more releases showcasing his talent. Very happy with service and will use the seller again.
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on 6 July 2014
Lorenzo da Ponte’s libretto and Mozart’s music were to transform the stock characters of the opera buffa tradition into real human beings, making Le Nozze di Figaro one of the most sophisticated operas of all time. A charming, expressive and witty Figaro, Lorenzo Regazzo leads a sparkling cast to illustrate superbly the timeless humanity of this masterpiece. Christoph Marthaler’s take on Mozart’s classic is both daringly original and highly contemporary, the setting transposed to a wedding-dress shop lit with neon lights and a shabby register office. Peter Mattei, Lorenzo Regazzo, Christiane Oelze, Heidi Grant Murphy, Christine Schäfer Orchestra and Chorus of The Opéra national de Paris / Sylvain Cambreling
Stage Director Christoph Marthaler Plus Illustrated Synopsis & Cast Gallery Opus Arte OA 0960 D
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HALL OF FAMEon 22 November 2006
Just so you'll know my biases, it makes me queasy and ultimately furious when a stage director so kidnaps a beloved opera like Marriage of Figaro and foists his irrelevant and ultimately unfunny stage bits on the audience as if we have no knowledge of the original that Mozart and his librettist Da Ponte get lost in the process. And that is precisely what happens here in this production from the Paris Opera, originally seen, if I'm not mistaken, at the Salzburg Festival (whose recent fetish for the Eurotrashing of opera is well-known and thought by many to be utterly reprehensible). There is, on the second DVD, a fatuous and self-regarding series of interviews with Marthaler and others that try to convince us that the updating would have appealed to Mozart. Really?

The production is set in the present time -- more or less -- and just to show you how confused it is I'll focus primarily on the first act. The opening scene which is supposed to take place in a room in the Count's castle where Figaro and his bride Susanna will reside after their wedding, takes place rather in an unfurnished nondescript space that seems to be just outside a marriage bureau where betrothed couples are seen coming and going. During 'Non so piu' a stagehand carries in the chair behind which Cherubino will later hide. Why wasn't it already on the stage? And why did the flow of the music shudder to a complete halt for at least thirty seconds, not once but twice, while the stagehand is there. I suppose if the stage action were funny or meaningful we wouldn't notice but this, believe me, this is just a chair being placed on stage. Why, when they are singing about a ribbon, do Cherubino and Susanna play tug of war with a pair of panty hose? Why does Don Curzio have a horrible stammer? Why, in the second act finale, is Figaro munching Lay's potato chips? And worst of all, why are the accompaniments to recitatives rewritten so that they are handed out to instruments like the bassoon, or to blown-upon beer bottles. And why is there a 'recitativist' (Jürg Kienberger) who is onstage most of the time (although not acknowledged), accompanying most of the recitative on an portable electric keyboard which he ornaments from time to time with a caterwauling falsetto?

None of this would bother me quite so much if this were otherwise a negligible musical performance, but in fact the young cast assembled here (and accompanied beautifully by Sylvain Cambreling leading the Paris Opéra orchestra and chorus) is first-rate. Best of all is Christine Schäfer as a very believably boyish Cherubino. She really does look like a teen-age boy (perhaps more like fourteen than seventeen, but still ...) and she sings like an angel. The Figaro of Lorenzo Regazzo is both naturally acted and artfully sung. The Count of Peter Mattei is his equal. Susanna is the always dependable Heidi Grant Murphy, the Countess sung in a creamy soprano by Christiane Oelze. Not only are they fine in their respective arias, but they are excellent (and with wonderful vocal blending) in the many ensembles of the work. Secondary roles are performed equally well. I found myself enjoying the production much better when I wasn't looking at the screen and simply focusing on the music. (For what it's worth, I would be willing to have this performance on CD. But I intend to give this DVD away because I know I'll never make myself watch it again.)

For those of you who are not bothered by the silliness described above (or by the 'recitativist' playing between the third and fourth acts an interpolated ditty by Mozart on the glass harmonica), this might be for you. For those of you who are traditionalists, this is one to avoid. Which is a shame because of the musical values that inhere to this performance.

Scott Morrison
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on 10 March 2016
Outstanding musical performance and unforgettable, brilliant Mattei! But the stage production is ugly. It is much better production from the Met 2014. In addition to excellent Peter Mattei - Almaviva excels there Marlis Petersen as exceptional, perfect Zuzanka. Unfortunately, this performance is not available on DVD (yet?).
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on 3 September 2008
Of course, this Figaro is not for you if you are a traditionalist. But this is a very successful modern staging of Le Nozze di Figaro, and the interpreation of the director is true to the heart of the work. Singers are all great as well. Recommended.
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