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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756- 1791)
Le Nozze di Figaro opera in 4 acts, K.492 (1786) [170.00]
Libretto by Lorenzo daponte
Count Almaviva - Ingvar Wixell
Countess Almaviva - Clare Watson
Susanna - Reri Grist
Figaro - Walter Berry
Basilio - David Thaw
Bartolo - Zoltan Kélémen -
Marcellina - Margarethe Bence
Chrubino - Edith Mathis
Antonio - Klaus Hirte
Barbarina - Dierdre Aserford
DonCurzio - Alfred Pfeifle
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and Staatsoper Chorus/Karl Böhm
Stage director, Günther Reinert. Sets and costumes, Ludwig Heinrich
Recorded at the Kleines Festspielhaus, Salzburg, Austria, 8 November 1966
Subtitles in English, Deutsche, Français, Español, Italiano
Special features: Opening view of Salzburg and previews of 8 other TDK opera titles.
LPCM monophonic sound. Black and White PAL 4:3 no region encoding
2 x DVD-9 format
TDK ‘Mediactive’ DV-CLOPNDF [180.00]


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Following the best performance of the overture I’ve ever heard, this proved to be one of the most enjoyable video opera performances I’ve ever seen. It is probably as close to a ‘perfect’ opera performance, especially of a work of this complexity, as we’ll ever see. Walter Berry and Reri Grist as Figaro and Susanna, and Ingvar Wixell as Count Almaviva are truly exceptional in both singing and acting. These parts have been done as well by others, but never any better, and it was clear from the curtain calls that the audience agreed with my assessment. Clare Watson seemed somewhat distracted upon her entrance as the Countess, and her Porgi Amor was a little weak, but she recovered quickly as the scene proceeded and by the time of her angry exchanges with the Count her concentration was fully restored. Her Dove Sono was utterly stupendous; the audience would not let her leave and kept calling her back for bows. I’ve never enjoyed the last scene as much as here — the staging and camera work were such that you could see everything that was going on and always knew who everyone was at all times. Video direction throughout was excellent — logical and free from gimmicks; the viewpoint moved from full stage to medium close-ups at entirely appropriate times.

I have admired Margarethe Bence in oratorio recordings for years and it was a pleasure to see her acting; she was a superb Marcellina, and the other character roles were played with equally great humour and insight. I could never quite believe Edith Mathis was a boy, however.

My Mozart snob friends always tell me Karl Böhm is too slow, but I wouldn’t want anything any faster in this perfectly paced performance. The notes say this is a "film" (I guess that means a kinescope recording, not a videotape) from the Austrian television archives, but the digital restoration is excellent. The picture is always very clear and free from blemishes; and the sound, while not spectacular, is rich, transparent, and detailed and always in balance.

Of course, first you’ll want a colour/stereo Figaro in your DVD opera collection, but for a second recording you’ll not find a better performance than this one; and it’s a must-have for schools and libraries.

Paul Shoemaker

 



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