Lovely performance. Buy this SACD now!
MBA_Overlord | New York, NY United States | 03/24/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"My wife and I (she's a musicologist who teaches Mozart at an Ivy League university) have thoroughly enjoyed this performance of Figaro. The cast is youthful sounding and energetic. I commend the singers for actually interpreting the music rather than treating it as a static museum piece. You can easily hear the lively interpretations of each of the main characters. Figaro should sound like an impish trouble maker. The recording nicely captures the essence of theatrical opera experience.
I also own an older recording of this opera with an all star cast consisting of Kiri Te Kanawa, Frederica von Stade, Samuel Ramey, and Kurt Moll singing with the London Philharmonic Orchestra led by Georg Solti. The René Jacobs Figaro easily surpasses this recording from a sonic and artistic standpoint. Te Kanawa and von Stade both possess lovely voices. Nevertheless, you never get the sense that they are really trying to interpret their characters at all. The performance is mannered and stilted despite all the pretty voices associated with it.
As for sound, this set represents one of harmondia mundi's better efforts. Sound staging is capacious and you can hear the players nicely arrayed. The period orchestra sounds lovely . . . the strings are especially vibrant and warm. We need more recordings like this one. Bravo Harmonia Mundi!"
A new favorite
Virginia Opera Fan | Falls Church, VA USA | 09/08/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Buy this recording before some marketing genius decides to delete it! Jacobs direction crackles with energy and reminds me just how dangerous and subversive the opera must have appeared to the late 18th century listener. The youthful cast possess prime vocal equipment and characterize strongly. The relationship between Figaro and the Count comes across as more than just buffo sparring - these guys are playing for keeps. Veronique Gens as the Countess is on a dramatic par with my long time favorite, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, with the additional virtue of sounding like the still teenaged Rosina. The period orchestra adds pungent character and plays beautifully. In multi-channel SACD, the sense of a staged performance is palpable. For example, Basilio's first entrance gives an uncanny impression of the character arriving from deep in the wings. I have fourteen other Figaros in my collection and this new arrival already challenges my old favorites conducted by Giulini and Leinsdorf - the latter sadly out of the catalogue again."