Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Erich Majkut, Irmgard Seefried, Marjan Rus|
Great Recordings Of The Century - Mozart: Le Nozze Di Figaro / Karajan, London, Schwarzkopf, Seefried, et al
Herbert von Karajan's 1950 Vienna recording of Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro was the first that was made for the then-new LP medium. Like its EMI predecessor on 78s (the 1934 Fritz Busch/Glyndebourne version), this recor... more »
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Herbert von Karajan's 1950 Vienna recording of Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro was the first that was made for the then-new LP medium. Like its EMI predecessor on 78s (the 1934 Fritz Busch/Glyndebourne version), this recording omits all of the recitatives--a ploy that's analogous to removing all of the bridges from Amsterdam's canals. As a result, you get all of Mozart's wonderful arias and group numbers, but not one iota of dramatic continuity and not much character development. More often than not, Karajan substitutes speed for finesse, letting chips of good ensemble playing and singing fall where they might. Still and all, the Vienna Philharmonic's vital work, so full of character, attests to its reputation as a singer's orchestra. And, boy--what singing! It's a joy to encounter Elisabeth Schwarzkopf in her silvery prime as the Countess. Sena Jurinac spins out Cherubino's arias with irrepressible elegance and richness of tone. The same comment holds true for George London's fresh, youthful Almaviva. Irmgard Seefried shines as Susanna, most tellingly so in her lovely Letter Duet with Schwarzkopf. The true heart of the title role lies within the missing recitatives, yet one still can tell that Erich Kunz's Figaro commands vivid presence and style. All in all, Karajan's first recorded Figaro, if hardly the one from which to learn this indestructible masterpiece, will appeal chiefly to aficionados of Mozart singing at its zenith. --Jed Distler
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Karajan's Figaro is worth more than just a glance
Haas | Brooklyn | 03/29/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This 1950/51 recording from Herbert von Karajan and the Vienna Philharmonic is a must-have for collectors but, admittedly, a lousy first choice. Novice Mozartians should seek out either Erich Kleiber's ever-insightful 1955 recording, Bohm's classic DG recording, or Giulini's early 60s EMI (at bargain price). But I love this recording and couldn't live without it. Here's why:
This isn't the best conducted 'Figaro' by any means, but young Karajan has a marvelous sense of the drama in the music, and really lets his ensemble of singers take center stage. Every now and then he gets a bit rushed -- but I've learned to get past it.
Erich Kunz is a glorious Figaro -- a close second to Prey for Bohm. Sometimes I actually prefer Kunz's more sarcastic, less expressively "funny" approach. Irmgard Seefried has what I call a "clipped," German-like Italian accent, which is not pleasant at first. She has some spots of wretched Italian, such as in "Venite, inginocchiatevi," where her "Bravo!" sounds more like a dying cat's "Braaoh." Oh it's bad. But then, like Karajan, she warms up later on. George London is no match for Eberhard Waechter on Giulini's set, but I like him. Gold star for best supporting character goes to Sena Jurianc as Cherubino, whose vastly underrated performance (particularly in her first aria) rivals even Danco for Kleiber. Best of all is the young Fraulein Schwarzkopf, who acts and sings at her peak: her big moments in Act III are simply marvelous, especially the "Sull'aria" duet with Susanna, the finest you'll hear anywhere. A tremendous experience.
Group work is exceptional on this recording. The "Mia Madre" sextet, reportedly Mozart's favorite in the opera (quite a statement!), is stupendous on this recording. Seefried's Susanna comes alive, with a genuine pain and confusion (and then surprise and delight), and Erich Kunz's "E quella e mia madre, che a te lo dira" is smooth and dignified, followed by an energetic burst from the remaining five with "Al dolce contento...Al fiero tormento." An unforgettable moment in recorded opera.
The finale of this opera contains some of the most stunningly beautiful music Mozart ever dreamed up. George London thankfully delivers his best singing on "Contessa perdono!", leading into Schwarzkopf's remarkable reply of "Piu docile sono." This is the best version of what I like to call the greatest moment in all music, and so I think any serious Mozart aficionado should own this recording just for that."
A dated Figaro sans recitatives with vintage singing
James Hinckley | 11/07/1999
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Secco recitatives are completely left out in this recording which is a pity as they are integral to dramatic continuity of the opera. What I particularly enjoyed was Erich Kunz's Figaro, a bluff genial portrayal which brought back fond memories of his Papageno in Die Zauberflote (a classic EMI recording also conducted by Karajan). Readers should also be aware that the Act 4 Basilio and Marcellina's arias have been ommitted."
Superb and brilliant work .....
Mr Bassil A MARDELLI | Riad El-SOLH , Beirut Lebanon | 04/15/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The place: Count Almaviva's - governor of Andalusia - palace in Spain.
Countess Rosina is Almaviva's wife but ignorant of the fact that her husband is trying to use the ancient regime credo - the right of the seigneur. (Primae noctis).The Count is looking for amorous advances towards Susanna, the Countess maid and head chambermaid, before the consummation of her marriage to Figaro.
Susanna is to be betrothed to Figaro, the man she loves and to whom she is engaged. Figaro is the count's chief steward and the concierge of his castle.
Count Almaviva discovers that his young attendant, Cherubino, is interested in the Countess. (Actually he was in love with every woman). So, the Count decides to send Cherubino away as a private in his own regiment.
Suzanna reveals everything to Figaro and the Countess.
Figaro, Susanna, and the Countess concoct a plot to abash Count Almaviva and disclose his unfaithfulness, forcing the count to look ridiculous and extravagantly farce.
In the meantime Figaro is caught up in a disagreement with doctor Bartholo and Marceline (another housekeeper - in love with Figaro, inadvertently Figaro's mother) which ends up when he is disclosed to be their son.
At night, all find themselves in the palace, where a funny series of cases of mistaken identity results in the Count's disgrace and then pardoned by the Countess.
Figaro and Suzanna get married.
In 1786, Mozart set to music this Italian Libretto (often called: The Day of Madness). The opera is comic - buffa, and the libretto is written by Lorenzo da Ponte (I believe in 1784)
Perhaps what's funnier is that this masterpiece was banned in Vienna because it has satirical notions against the aristocracy. Indications of a French revolution were beginning to surface and came two years after Figaro (The fall of the Bastille; march to Versailles, French king and assembly returned to Paris, national guard formed in Paris under Lafayette, rising in French provinces............)
This recording is splendid. Herbert von Karajan's magic touch is also there. How can one miss it? Listen to the Overture - four minutes of outstanding music. But no! the entire Opera is great. I did enjoy it, you too will love it.