MOZART: OPERAS - SALZBURG FESTIVAL (6 DVDS)
MOZART: OPERAS - SALZBURG FESTIVAL (6 DVDS)
MARRIAGE OF FIGARO
Anna Netrebko, Christine Schäfer, Dorothea Röschmann, Bo Skovhus and
Ildebrando D'Arcangelo under the direction of Nikolaus Harnoncourt and
accompanied by the Vienna Philharmonic - this "Marriage of Figaro" is a
feast for musical gourmets. Of all the Mozart 22 productions of the
Salzburg Festival's Mozart year 2006, "Figaro" is no doubt the most
popular, both among connoisseurs and amateurs - perhaps because it is above
all a triumph of superior music-making.
The story is well-known, the work is fast-moving, witty, touching and
vibrant. Based on a politically and socially explosive comedy by
Beaumarchais, but toned down by Mozart's librettist Lorenzo da Ponte, it
treats the topic of love, lust and justice among the various classes:
nobility, indentured servants and the rising bourgeoisie. The joy of the
work lies above all in its characters, which are perhaps the most "human"
human beings to be found on the opera stage.
Harnoncourt's musical concept is meticulously worked-out, interpreted with
a wealth of subtle nuances and, with respect to the madness of the romantic
intrigues unfolding on the stage, nothing less than thought-provoking.
Director Claus Guth's staging fits the music like a glove: there are no
farcical elements or slapstick; he takes each and every character
seriously. He sees the ensembles and arias as emotional rooms that are to
be opened by the director. Everything takes place in Count Almaviva's
summer residence - a place devoid of furnishings but filled with erotic
The most erotically charged role in the opera is that of Cherubino, and
with Christine Schäfer, Cherubino became the fulcrum of the performance, a
luminous, dazzlingly virtuoso singer and consistently poignant actress -
perhaps the vocal discovery of the Mozart 22 project. The celebrated Anna
Netrebko proves her greatness by harnessing her sensual soprano to make it
fit seamlessly into the ensemble. Bo Skovhus and Dorothea Röschmann give
realistic and intense accounts of the Count and Countess as they movingly
depict their "scenes of a marriage." Finally, Ildebrando D'Arcangelo
employs his powerful bass baritone to give authority to the work's title
Wild animals live in the woods. Robbers hide there. Mystery is at home
there. And, when the woods are on the stage of Salzburg's Haus für Mozart,
a notorious ladies' man and his unsavory accomplice can also find shelter
there. For here, in the dense forest planted by director Claus Guth, is
the home of the rugged macho Don Giovanni, who, assisted by Leporello,
lures the ladies with the heady scent of danger.
In Guth's almost cinematic Salzburg Festival production, every character
in Mozart's most realistic opera seems to carry a back-story of thwarted
love and frustration. Everyone appears to be seeking either salvation or
damnation in the woods - a compelling concept that removes the opera from
its traditional pseudo-Seville squares and palaces. And when Don Giovanni
is played by Christopher Maltman, it's no wonder that Donna Anna (Annette
Dasch), Donna Elvira (Dorothea Röschmann) and even Zerlina (Ekaterina
Siurina) are ready to throw themselves at his feet. With a physique as
striking as his full-bodied baritone voice, Maltman embodies Don Giovanni
as an almost reluctant seducer, a man fated to bring misery to women and,
ultimately, to himself.
Next to Maltman, it is Uruguayan bass-baritone Erwin Schrott who rivets
the audience in this production: "Schrott's Leporello is an event in his
own right, the event of the Salzburg 'Don Giovanni'" (Die Welt). This
Leporello is no bumbling sidekick or nobleman's scapegoat, but his
master's worthy companion on the road to perdition. Among the women,
Röschmann gives a heart-stopping account of rage, passion and love in her
arias. And as Don Ottavio, Matthew Polenzani has nothing in common with
the traditionally sweet but boring characterization of the eternal fiancé.
Under Bertrand de Billy, the Wiener Philharmoniker play with refreshing
verve and spirit.
COSI FAN TUTTE
Director Claus Guth's production of Mozart's da Ponte trilogy for the
Salzburg Festival reaches its sensational conclusion with his elegant,
stylish production from the "Haus für Mozart." Guth bolsters the unity of
the cycle by making ingenious reference to his stagings of the first two
works, "Le nozze di Figaro" and "Don Giovanni" (both available from
UNITEL). His widely acclaimed production of the trilogy, which began in
the Mozart Year 2006, consolidates Guth's international reputation as one
of the most sought-after stage directors of our time. Among his other
major successes are "Der fliegende Holländer" in Bayreuth and "Luisa
Miller" at the Bavarian State Opera.
Guth assembles a superb ensemble of young singers who toy with love and
trust under the cynical gaze of "ringmaster" Bo Skovhus' Don Alfonso and
his foxy, temperamental sidekick Despina, played by fiery young soprano
Patricia Petibon (UNITEL also offers a 30' portrait of the French
soprano, "With Charm and Voice"). Baritone Florian Boesch and tenor Topi
Lehtipuu ideally complement their frisky partners Miah Persson and Isabel
Leonard. Conductor Adam Fischer keeps the tempi brisk and the Wiener
Philharmoniker on their toes in his layered reading of the score. "Uno
spettacolo superbo," wrote the Corriere della Sera. This production is
another joint project in UNITEL CLASSICA's exclusive partnership with the
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