Notes and Editorial Reviews
As I have often been reprimanded for harking back to the past for vocal glories, let me say at once that, where Mozart is concerned, present day singers need fear nothing in comparison with their predecessors; indeed, they seem to become better and better at interpreting him as the cast in this new Figaro amply demonstrates. It certainly could not be improved on today, and though I may prefer individual interpretations in some other recordings, I count this the most successful all-round cast of singers assembled for this opera.
It is headed by a Count and Countess of aristocratic manner, both possessed of the ideal voice for their roles. Kiri Te Kanawa, who began her Covent Garden career as mistress of the Almaviva household,
here interprets the part with her familiarly warm, soft tone unimpaired and a much greater understanding than in the past at achieving the maximum with the text. Her recitative, particularly in her tiffs with her husband and her flirtation with Cherubino, is neatly delivered and, in ensembles, her clear line is always secure and well managed. Thomas Allen's Count, also much cherished at the Royal Opera House, transfers to disc magnificently with its cutting edge undiminished, its sexual dimension evident in every bar, most of all in his last-act exchanges with Susanna. He charges his recitative with the relevant emotions and the biting confidence of a man who expects to be obeyed even when he knows he's stretching beyond the bounds of traditional decorum, and his third-act aria has the demonic touch of this singer's Giovanni. The coloratura at the aria's end, such an obstacle to most baritones, gives Allen no problem and he sings it up to tempo.
You may find his voice somewhat hard to distinguish from that of Samuel Ramey's Figaro. Although Ramey's tone is a shade darker, the voices are startlingly similar in timbre, so that in their exchanges you need to be alert to keep them apart. That hardly matters when Ramey makes such a formidable rival to the Count, a servant full of indignation and youthful agility, no prancing barber but an incipient revolutionary, "Se vuol ballare" challenging and the bitterness of the fourth-act aria very palpable. This Figaro would definitely dominate his own opera were not his Susanna also such a lively character. The attraction of Lucia Popp's stage portrayal is happily carried over into this recording, where everything she does has quick-witted humour, a spirited girl very much at the centre of affairs, and Popp's singing is equally pointed culminating in a poised, ravishing account of "Deh vieni non tardar". She is also the life and soul of the recitatives.
Frederica von Stade repeats her Cherubino sung for the well-cast but idiosyncratically conducted Karajan version (Decca DI32D4, 9/79), the most recent to be issued in this country, and seems happier here; indeed, she is the very epitome of restless, ardent youthfulness, reminding me of how she charmed everyone in the part at Glyndebourne a few years ago. She is a trifle hurried here by the faster tempo adopted for a first aria as compared with Karajan's more leisurely pace. There is no falling off in standards when we come to the more minor parts. Moll is a rollicking Bartolo, accurate and steady in his aria. Tear's Basilio is even more insinuating than for Davis (Philips), and he even succeeds in making his aria interesting, quite a feat. Berbie has a little more trouble with hers than she did for Karajan but otherwise makes a lively Marcellina. I particularly liked Giorgio Tadeo's Antonio, a garlicky, rip-roaring character from below stairs.
-- Gramophone [11/1982, reviewing the original LP release]
Works on This Recording
Le nozze di Figaro, K 492 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Dame Kiri Te Kanawa (Soprano),
Robert Tear (Tenor),
Kurt Moll (Bass),
Yvonne Kenny (Soprano),
Philip Langridge (Tenor),
Giorgio Tadeo (Bass),
Lynda Russell (Soprano),
Samuel Ramey (Bass),
Lucia Popp (Soprano),
Frederica Von Stade (Mezzo Soprano),
Jane Berbié (Mezzo Soprano),
Thomas Allen (Baritone),
Anne Mason (Soprano)
Sir Georg Solti
London Philharmonic Orchestra,
London Opera Chorus
Written: 1786; Vienna, Austria
Le nozze di Figaro, K.492: Overture
Le nozze di Figaro, K.492 / Act 2: "Che novità!"
Le nozze di Figaro, K.492 / Act 1: "Cinque... deci... venti..." - "Cosa stai misurando"
Le nozze di Figaro, K.492 / Act 2: "Susanna, or via, sortite" - "Dunque, voi non aprite"
Le nozze di Figaro, K.492 / Act 1: "Se a caso Madama" - "Or bene, ascolta, e taci"
Le nozze di Figaro, K.492 / Act 2: "Aprite, presto" - "O guarda il demonietto!" - "Tutto è come io lasciai"
Le nozze di Figaro, K.492 / Act 1: "Bravo, signor padrone...Se vuol ballare...Ed aspettaste"
Le nozze di Figaro, K.492 / Act 2: "Esci, ormai, garzon malnato" - "Susanna!... Signore!"
Le nozze di Figaro, K.492 / Act 1: "La vendetta" - "Tutto ancor non ho perso"
Le nozze di Figaro, K.492 / Act 2: "Signore, di fuori" - "Ah! signore... signor!"
Le nozze di Figaro, K.492 / Act 2: "Voi signor, che giusto siete"
Le nozze di Figaro, K.492 / Act 1: "Via resti servita" - "Va là, vecchia pedante"
Le nozze di Figaro, K.492 / Act 3: "Che imbarazzo è mai questo" - "Via, fatti core"
Le nozze di Figaro, K.492 / Act 1: "Non so più...Ah, son perduto!"
Le nozze di Figaro, K.492 / Act 1: "Cosa sento!...Basilio, in traccia tosto...Giovani"
Le nozze di Figaro, K.492 / Act 3: "Crudel! perché finora" - "E perché fosti meco"
Le nozze di Figaro, K.492 / Act 3: "Hai già vinta la causa!...Vedrò mentr'io sospiro..."
Le nozze di Figaro, K.492 / Act 1: "Non più andrai"
Le nozze di Figaro, K.492 / Act 2: "Porgi amor...Vieni, cara Susanna"
Le nozze di Figaro, K.492 / Act 3: "Riconosci in questo amplesso" - "Eccovi, o caro amico" - "Andiamo, andiam, bel paggio"
Le nozze di Figaro, K.492 / Act 2: "Voi che sapete" - "Bravo! che bella voce!"
Le nozze di Figaro, K.492 / Act 2: "Venite! Inginocchiatevi...Quante buffonerie!"
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