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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Le Nozze di Figaro
Il Conte – Pietro Spagnoli
La Contessa – Annette Dasch
Susanna – Rosemary Joshua
Figaro – Luca Pisaroni
Cherubino – Angelika Kirshschlager
Marcellina – Sophie Pondjiclis
Antonio – Alessandro Svab
Bartolo – Antonio Abete
Don Basilio – Enrico Facini
Barbarian – Pauline Courtin
Don Curzio – Serge Goubioud
Chœur du Théâtre des Champs-Élysées
Concerto Köln/René Jacobs
Stage Director – Jean-Louis Martinoty
rec. Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Paris, 2004
BEL AIR CLASSIQUES BAC217 DVD [182 mins]

Of all Mozart operas Le Nozze di Figaro is the one that I now have more DVD versions of than any other, and this despite it not even being my favourite Mozart opera, some four in total. This production itself has had a tortured history, it was recorded in 2004 and released by Bel Air two years later, if I remember correctly there were a few questions asked about the picture quality of this release, I am glad to say that playing this remastered DVD release through my Blu-Ray player does, for me, raises no questions regarding the visual aspect of this release.

Of the four versions I have two others offer a historically informed presentation, that from John Elliot Gardener on Archiv (073 018-9) which I find the staging a bit on the minimal side and if truth be told, a little drab, I do enjoy the interplay between Bryn Terfel and Alison Hagley. The other being Harnoncourt’s on EuroArts (2058818) which despite a stellar cast, including Anna Netraebko, Bo Skovhus and Christine Schäfer, is spoiled by the director choosing to have a sort of a malevolent figure in the background directing the actions of those involved in the plot, this for me spoils a well sung production, and leads me not to watch the DVD.

In respect to these two productions I find this present recording desirable, with both the set, which is created using a number of well painted backdrops, and the staging being sensitive to the opera and the performance, and what a wonderful performance it is too. Luca Pisaroni and Rosemary Joshua are a well-matched pair as the soon to be newlyweds, while Angelika Kirshschlager is an excellent Cherubino, a role she would repeat for Jacobs in his later Harmonia Mundi recording (HMC901818/20). Pietro Spagnoli is very good as the scheming Conte, whilst Annette Dasch is excellent as the put-upon Contessa, with a well-cast Marcellina in Sophie Pondjiclis. Indeed, it is very difficult to find a weak link in this production with all the soloists being excellent, in his early career René Jacobs was an excellent singer, and he shows here that he can get the best out of his soloists. The same can be said of the Chorus, the Chœur du Théâtre des Champs-Élysées are on fine form and add a lot to this production, as do the Concerto Köln, who produce a lively and well-defined performance on their period instruments. It is fitting that at the end of the opera all the soloists took the applause together as in this performance was the epitome of an ensemble piece, with all deserving of the ovation they receive.

Everything about this production is excellent, so much so that is quickly become my favourite DVD version, and not just among the period performances, it not only offers an excellent singing cast, but it is well acted with all the participants actually looking the part as well as comfortable in bringing out he humour in their roles, something that some performances forget. If you are looking for a well sung performance of this masterpiece, one that is sympathetic to the spirit of the opera, well look no further.

Stuart Sillitoe

 




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