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Le Nozze Di Figaro
Mozart, Mildmay, Helletsgruber
Le Nozze Di Figaro
Genre: Classical


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CD Details

All Artists: Mozart, Mildmay, Helletsgruber, Busch
Title: Le Nozze Di Figaro
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: Naxos
Original Release Date: 1/1/1934
Re-Release Date: 8/20/2002
Genre: Classical
Styles: Opera & Classical Vocal, Historical Periods, Classical (c.1770-1830), Modern, 20th, & 21st Century
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaCD Credits: 2
UPC: 636943118627

CD Reviews

A Fine, But Heavily Cut, Historic Performance
Jeffrey Lipscomb | Sacramento, CA United States | 07/24/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Fritz Busch was, to my ears, one of the most totally satisfying of all Mozart conductors. His classic Don Giovanni and Cosi recordings (also on excellent Naxos transfers) are superb, despite ancient sound. This Figaro is also very fine, but it has never struck me as being on quite the same level of excellence as Busch's other Glyndebourne productions (or, for that matter, Beecham's Magic Flute, which is also available in Naxos' treasure trove of historic re-issues). While virtually every member of Busch's cast has been bettered elsewhere, there is nevertheless some wonderful ensemble singing here, and though Busch is not at his most compelling, I can't imagine any Mozartean not wanting to have this historic set in his or her CD library.

This is simply too great a work for any single CD recording to suffice as your only version. My basic recommendation for an un-cut version in good stereo sound would be the Erich Kleiber set on Decca, with Siepi's incredibly suave Figaro and Della Casa at her most ravishing (Gueden, Poell and Danco are also excellent). I far prefer this set to Giulini's, which has less interesting conducting and suffers from the boorish Almaviva of Wachter. Also very much worth hearing is the excellent and inexpensive EMI set conducted by Vittorio Gui. It's heavily cut and the conducting lacks Kleiber's sparkle, but it has the superb Countess of Sena Jurinac and the delightful pairing of Bruscantini and Sciutti as Figaro & Susanna. Another very fine Figaro (probably my favorite after the Kleiber) is the "live" 1955 effort under Hans Rosbaud, which has Panerai as a handsome Figaro, a gorgeous Susanna in Rita Streich, and top notch singers in the other major roles (Rehfuss, Stich-Randall and Lorengar). Sadly, that set is currently out of print.

My recommendation would be to seek out the Kleiber set as the best all-round sung and conducted Figaro, supplement it with the Busch and Gui sets, and then keep an eye out for a re-issue of the wonderful Rosbaud recording. And if you also acquire the far lesser Giulini, you will have a collection that emulates a movie title: Four Weddings and a Funeral.

The Classic First Recording of Le Nozze di Figaro
L. E. Cantrell | Vancouver, British Columbia Canada | 04/22/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This has been a great recording for almost seventy years and will remain so for the remainder of the era of sound-only recordings.The Glyndebourne Festival was the plaything of a wealthy English entrepreneur with a taste for German opera and the wherewithal to pay for it. He actually wanted to do a Wagner festival but was talked out of it by a few early escapees from the newly rising Nazi state. Mozart was an acceptable alternative for entrepeneur Christie and his (highly talented) wife, Audrey Mildmay, who appears on this set. Christie built the theater in his own market garden, sparing no expenses with respect to conducting, singers, production and rehearsals. At the time of this recording, 1934-1935, the Glyndebourne Festival Theater had only 300 seats and sold tickets for about 2/3 of its seating capacity. I believe that the singing on this recording reflects those facts. To my ear, each singer is singing for a small house rather than the 2,000 to 3,500-seat caverns to which opera listeners have become accustomed. It is a revelation to hear this familiar material with voices able to provide subtleties rather than volumes of sound. Listen in particular to the perfectly focused voice of Willi Domgraff-Fassbaender, sounding very like a Tito Schipa who had somehow been born most of an octave lower in tone, illuminating his part as much as he sings it. I am more comfortable with the sound of this set than the learned and acute-eared Mr. Austin from Kangaroo Ground, but then I like to hear the singers up front. Considering its age--the tracks were presumably scratched into rocks with hammers of stone--the fidelity is astonishingly good. There is a hiss. Get used to it for the sake of the brilliant performance. I also like the bonus tracks rather more than Mr. Austin. They are worth hearing and they are free--why complain?By reason of a business decision, the recitativo secco passages were not recorded, except for one short passage accompanied by piano. A few minor musical numbers were also omitted. From Rudolph Bing's book about the early days of Glyndebourne, I gather that they ran out of time at the recording sessions. As a not quite complete five star performance, I give this set four stars."
The first recorded
John Austin | Kangaroo Ground, Australia | 12/11/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Naxos has reissued on budget-priced CDs almost all the historic opera recordings from the 1930s and 1940s. This recording emanated from the first years of the Glyndebourne Festival and was the first "complete" recording of any Mozart opera. Predicting that there would be no market for an opera set of 25 or so 78s in those times of economic depression, producer Fred Gaisberg decided to omit all the secco recitatives, together with 3 or 4 arias and a chorus. In this Naxos restoration, you can thus hear almost all the main "numbers", with a pause of about 5 seconds between each one. Conductor Fritz Busch was the regular conductor at Glyndebourne in the 1930s, and the ensemble of singers included Audrey Mildmay, the wife of the man that established the opera house in the grounds of his country property. Mildmay is the Susannah here, sweet and inoffensive in her arias, and easily heard carrying the top soprano line in the ensembles. The Countess is Aulikki Rautavaara, a Finnish soprano. She copes with her two difficult arias with ease but projects little emotional involvement. Luise Helletsgruber is a well-mannered Cherubino. The occasional "qvell" betrays her Austrian orgin. This pronunciation difficulty is still more evident in the singing of Willi Domgraf-Fassbaender, but he brings such brio and cheekiness to the part of Figaro and his voice, especially in the upper range, is so robust that the failing is soon forgotten. English singers Roy Henderson as the Count and Heddle Nash as a particularly gleeful Basilio fill the other major male parts. Uncredited in the Naxos cast listing is Fergus Dunlop as Antonio the gardener. Mozart's librettist, Da Ponte, contrived some brilliant ensemble sequences in this opera. Listening to this famous recording recently for the first time in my life I hoped that these might be the highlights. After all, this was a true ensemble of singers who worked together and with their conductor and producer in a series of live and recorded festival performances. Sadly, the age of the recording brings disappointment here. The vocal textures, balance and dynamics are just not clear enough. There is also a moment in the long Act 2 finale where the joining together of 78 sides cannot be hidden.Five additional tracks, providing arias from "Figaro" recorded by "legendary singers" also bring some disappointment. While there is much to enjoy in the singing of Conchita Supervia, Helen Traubel and Lina Pagliughi, they are not great Mozartean singers, nor are their versions of particular "Figaro" arias in any way definitive."