In 1988 when this period-instrument Figaro was released, the style was still a novelty, and Ostman gained some notoreity for his rushed tempos as well as the scrawniness of his chamber orchestra, by far the smallest to play this great opera on CD. Yet when I read a glowing review by Andrew Porter in the New Yorker, I immediately bought the performance, shortly discovering that it was a true gem in the extensive Figaro catalog.
By Santa Fe Listener
In his 2003 production for the Maggio Musicale in Florence, director Jonathan Miller invested the complex relationships between the characters with countless tiny erotic charges and even obvious sexual symbols. The artistic director of the renowned Maggio Musicale festival Zubin Mehta brings out not only the tension and drive of the music but also its harmonic richness. The singers all belong to the international opera scene and not only provide excellent vocal quality but also strong acting skills, which help to tell the gripping story with its many disguises, mix-ups and discoveries: Russian soprano Eteri Gvazava internationally recognised since her sensational Traviata à Paris filming partnering José Cura is wonderful to watch and to hear in the role of the sad but contriving Countess Almaviva. Patrizia Ciofi, the Italian belcanto star is Susanna with all her intriguing acting skills and her pointed vocal intensity. Lucio Gallo who plays the evil character in this plot is one of the foremost Italian baritones. The title role is sung by Giorgio Surian, a bass-baritone who started off on the Italian opera scene, but has since made a steady career on international opera stages.
The Marriage of Figaro, as this elegant 1994 production brilliantly reminds us, was a French bedroom comedy before it became a Mozart opera. It is a classic of French literature, and it is still enjoyable as a spoken play after more than two centuries of existence. Its literary quality gives this production a special flavor. The music–some of Mozart's finest–is beautifully presented by a carefully chosen international cast (including Giovanni Furlanetto, Elzbieta Szymtka, Janice Watson, and Ludovic Tezier), but what sets this production apart is its theatrical flavor, cultivated by a director who is an expert on classic French theater. The standards of spoken theater are upheld in timing, body language, the inflection of punch lines. These qualities are more important here than in most operas; style is both crucial and elusive. Fortunately, the Opera de Lyon, one of most imaginative companies in Europe, shows an impressive sense of style. (Joe McLellan)
This luxuriously cast film of Mozart's beloved opera buffa features a host of legendary interpretations, including Kiri Te Kanawa's exquisite Countess Almaviva, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau as her philandering husband, Hermann Prey as the wily title character, Mirella Freni, a delight as his no less savvy bride Susanna, and Maria Ewing, hilarious as the lovesick page Cherubino. Director Jean-Pierre Ponnelle's imaginative camera-work tellingly emphasizes character and mood in this immortal story of love, intrigue and class struggle, set against the historical background of ancien regime Europe sliding inexorably towards revolution.
Giorgio Strehler was one of Europe’s most celebrated theatre directors. In his Piccolo Teatro in Milan he created outstanding interpretations of Bertolt Brecht and William Shakespeare. As an opera director he worked at all the major international opera houses, most notably the Teatro alla Scala, Milan, where he was responsible for productions of Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra (1971), Macbeth (1975) and in 1980 for Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro. This legendary production of Mozart’s masterpiece is now available as a 2006 recording, featuring the wonderful Diana Damrau as Susanna and Ildebrando D’Arcangelo as Figaro.
This memorable recording from the Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin was Arthaus Musik’s first official release in 2000. It features one of the most popular Mozart operas, „Le Nozze di Figaro“, a witty satire on the authority of the reigning noble class and infidelity in love relationships. Starring a great cast of singers with Dorothea Röschmann, René Pape, Emily Magee and Peter Schreier – to name but a few – this performance is conducted by Daniel Barenboim, chief conductor of the Berlin State Orchestra since 1992 named conductor for life by the orchestra in 2000.
This new, excitingly original production of Mozart's most popular opera was the sensation of the 2006 Salzburg Festival. "What young director Claus Guth has made of Figaro - with Harnoncourt's active collaboration - is genius … The stellar cast performed with power and precision …" (Le Monde). "…a fully rounded musical performance…By and large the opera could hardly be more strongly cast. Anna Netrebko is a dreamy, vulnerable and beautifully sung Susanna, and Ildebrando D'Arcangelo's smouldering Figaro is a really macho rival to the Count.” (Gramophone)
The Zurich Opera House has recorded more productions for DVD than any other opera house in the world. During the last twelve years, conductor Franz Welser-Möst has conducted more than fifty premieres with the Zurich Opera. They perform regularly together in London, Paris, Tokyo and other major international cities. Welser-Möst has enjoyed a long and very fruitful relationship with the Zurich Opera. From 1995 - 2002, he was Chief Conductor of the House, was Principal Conductor from 2002 - 2005 and was then appointed General Musikdirektor. In June 2007, Welser-Möst was appointed General Musikdirektor designate of the Staatsoper, Vienna, a position he will assume in the 2010/11 season. Prior to that, he undertakes a new production of “The Ring" in Vienna, which started in the 2007/8 season. He is also Music Director of the Cleveland Orchestra. Welser-Möst has assembled over the years a close-knit ensemble which is frequently praised for both its vocal and acting abilities.