Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

Save around 22%
with these retailers

MOZART Favorite Opera Arias  
  Sir Charles Mackerras, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Chorus (Edinburgh Festival Chorus on Così Fan Tutte) singers: Thomas Allen, June Anderson, Alessandro Corbelli, Nuccia Focile, Jerry Hadley, Barbara Hendricks, Felicity Lott, Marie McLaughlin, Susanne Mentzner, Alistair Miles, Bo Skovhus, Carol Vaness  
Telarc CD-80529 [67:42]


The Marriage of Figaro: Non più andrai, Voi che sapete, E Susanna non vien… Dove sono, Giunse alfin il momento… Deh, vieni, non tardar

Don Giovanni: Madamina, il catalogo è questo Dalla sua pace (Vienna version, Finch' han dal vino Batti, batti, o bel Masetto Mi tradi quell' alma ingrata (Vienna version)

Così Fan Tutte: Smanie implacabili Come, scoglio immota resta Un' aura amorosa Per pietà, ben mio perdona

The Magic Flute: Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd sch ön Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen Ach, ich f ühl's Der Vogelf änger bin ich ja


It doesn't inspire confidence when a major label misspells the title of an album, and given that we are not yet the 51st State of America (though surely that would be preferable to becoming a province of the Roman Empire for the second time) and that the recordings on this disc were made in Edinburgh, it is irrelevant that the artwork was printed in the USA. Favorite (sic) Opera Arias indeed! This is not a newly recorded programme, but a greatest hits selection from four complete Mozart opera recordings made by Sir Charles Mackerras with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Chorus (Così Fan Tutte employs the Edinburgh Festival Chorus by way of replacement) between 1991-5. Given that there are already highlights albums from each of the four complete recordings, Teldec are clearly intent on exploiting the performances at every level of interest and financial commitment. As Teldec must already have paid for booklet notes for the previous albums, it is emphatically mediocre that this current disc comes with nothing more than track listings, the inside of the four-sided insert being devoted to no more than an advert for the complete recordings. Many people buying this album will be fairly new to the music, and some sort of background information would surely be most useful in providing a context, and in even leading on to further purchases.

Thus far, so unimpressive, a disheartening example of the lack of care and interest with which some major labels treat even full-price back catalogue issues, and a striking contrast with the attention labels like Naxos lavish on super-budget releases. Of course things get rapidly better when we actually listen to the music. There are 17 arias, four each from The Marriage of Figaro, Così Fan Tutte and The Magic Flute, five from Don Giovanni. The ladies dominate the concert, with most strangely of all, Don Giovanni as sung by Bo Skovhus only appearing for 79 seconds in Finch' han dal vino. Felicity Lott appears the most, three times, twice from Così Fan Tutte, once in Don Giovanni. Most singers only are heard once, making this programme unusual in that the focus is on the music rather than star performers. Thus as a primer for four of Mozart's most popular operas and an attractively varied concert in its own right, this release has much to commend it. Mackerras assembled first-rate casts, and the anthologist has been able to take the pick of the best moments - though obviously this is highly subjective, and largely pointless to argue with individual inclusions or exclusions as everyone will have a different idea of what should be on the disc. However, the very fact that so much is missing means that this disc will often serve as an expensive sampler, leading on to further, more complete purchases. Considering that, one can't help think that the set should be properly documented, or better still, be a double-length two-for-the-price-of-one issue.

In this context, singling out highlights from highlights of highlights seems superfluous. If I had to do it, I'd nominate Felicity Lott's Fiordiligi and specifically the aria Per pietà, ben mio perdona from Così Fan Tutte and June Anderson as the Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute for her spirited performance of Der Hölle Rache hocht in meinem. That said, there's nothing bad here, with only the presentation seriously letting the side down. The music and performances and sound are fine.


Gary S. Dalkin


Gary S. Dalkin

Reviews from previous months

Reviews carry sales links but you can also purchase from:

Return to Index