"A very well rounded recording with an exceptional amount of high moments and only a few lows. It has one of the best Act 2 finales I've ever heard, especially it's final portion (Marcellena's & co.'s arrival, etc.) which shows incredible clarity in orchestration and delightful passion on the part of the cast. Davis and his performers find an excellent balance between dramatic integrity, proportion of tempi and emotional output elevating this CD to a Mozartean Classic."
An excellent recording, with some reservations
Matteo Bueno | Kansas City, MO United States | 07/29/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Davis does a fine job with this recording, one of the best paced Figaros around (Solti and Giuilini are also very good). Freni is probably the best reason to buy this recording. Her Susanna is sung with a full lyric tone and excellent execution of the text. The second reason to buy this recording is the Contessa of Norman. It's certainly a part that one does not associate with her. In general, it's a success. I find her tone unusually oppulent for this role, but it works. If she seems overtly regal (a mannerism that I find true of most of her work), it's not a drawback in a role that is, after all, a countess. The gentleman are all good as well (and both fixtures in the also excellent Davis Don Giovanni with Arroyo, Te Kanawa and Freni as the women). An excellent first recording of this opera and a worthwhile addition to other interpretations of Nozze."
Beautiful music-making -- brisk story-telling
OperaCub | New England, USA | 03/05/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I'd looked forward to owning this version (which must be my 10th Nozze recording, at least), based on the positive review in Opera on Records. It is musically very accomplished, and the theatrical aspect is carefully thought out and executed.
Ultimately I was disappointed by Davis's fast tempi through-out, which preempt the opportunities to express deeper emotions of anguish or vulnerability. It jogs along, literately and elegantly, but is rarely moving. Freni is very good, earthy, with a phrasing style that is not conventionally Mozartian. Ganzarolli is, for me, hard to like and musically a little casual in going from note to note. Norman puts so much effort into successfully reducing her massive voice to Mozartian proportions that she has little energy left for much else. Sometimes I could only marvel at "there's Jessye Norman sounding like a soubrette!", but she lost the core of the Countess's character in the process. Her sung Italian at that timewas not fluent. In fast music she's all consonants, in slow music all vowels (which makes the echoes in the Letter Duet sound as though Freni is translating Norman's beautiful, unclear utterances into recognizable Italian). They vocalize gorgeously, though. Minton is dull, Wixell is edgy (but so is Ganzarolli).
The subtitle of the piece is "la folle giornata," the mad day. This performance never adequately spills over into madness -- neither crazed joy nor tears. Very pretty listening, though. Instead, I'd recommend Krips, the impossible-to-find Leinsdorf, Boehm 3 (on DG), Giulini (brilliant humor, just over-engineered for my tastes), and especially de los Angeles and Reiner live from the Met in '52, and Pinza, Sayao, and Steber live with Breisach (better than Walter!) in '43 -- Now THAT's comedy!"
Daniel Lelchuk | NH, USA | 11/27/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a good, not fantastic, rendition of Mozart's great opera Le Nozze di Figaro. Although there are no major problems, and the singing, especially from Mirella Freni, is quite beautiful, the recording lacks something of the great character someone such as Bohm brings to it. The orchestral sound, while clean cut and fairly refined, does not possess any robust qualities--it sounds thin and too neat. The wind solos, while well played, seem slightly insincere, and one sometimes feels a slight sense of the routine. All in all, however, if one wants a solid, only good Figaro, this recording is a fine selection."