. . . Harnoncourt's elegiac, beautifully nuanced, interpretation of the score. The vocal honours go to Bo Skovhus and Dorothea Röschmann as the Count and Countess, their marital hell more excruciatingly realised than on any other set. Ildebrando d'Arcangelo is the sexy, assertive Figaro; his Susanna is Anna Netrebko, very much the voice of reason in a hopelessly deluded world.
Record Review /
The Guardian (London) / 13. June 2007
Claus Guth¿s production of Figaro at the Salzburg Festival last year was the talk of the summer, and you can now carry home Anna Netrebko, Ildebrando d¿Arcangelo and the rest of the strong cast . . . Listening to Nikolaus Harnoncourt conducting the overture, you already sense something unusual . . . superb music-making and ensemble acting. Harnoncourt¿s speeds, tending toward the slow, usually enhance Mozart¿s beauties, and the cast clearly relishes the extra space to be thoughtful. D¿Arcangelo¿s Figaro, sultry and volatile, is no simple bedroom prancer. Netrebko¿s Susanna proves equally complex: a smart cookie, earthy and sly, without the sparkle that wins instant sympathy. Bo Skovhus¿s Count, who sweats and keeps finding dead ravens, offers a telling portrait of lust under pressure. But for characterful singing they are all pipped by Dorothea Röschmann¿s Countess (oh, the pain of her Dove Sono) and Christine Schäfer¿s Cherubino -- always put upon, convincingly gamine.
Record Review /
The Times (London) / 15. June 2007
The toast of last year's Salzburg Festival, where this live recording was made, Nikolaus Harnoncourt's vivid account of Mozart's masterpiece seethes with its essential energy, galvanising an outstanding cast. Bo Skovhus as Count Almaviva, Dorothea Roschmann as his Countess, Anna Netrebko as Susanna, Christine Schäfer as Cherubino: all offer blue-chip support to the towering Figaro of Ildebrando D'Arcangelo, who takes an unusually firm grasp of the proceedings. This is an essential Figaro for any collection -- warm and witty, bustling and bright.
Record Review /
Observer (London) / 17. June 2007
Even the hype-allergic could only applaud Netrebko's Susanna, McLaughlin's Marcellina, Schäfer's Cherubino, and the rest of the ensemble.
Record Review /
Michael Scott Rohan,
BBC Music Magazine (London) / 01. August 2007
Harnoncourts 2006er Version ist erstklassig musiziert . . . Christine Schäfer . . . . [singt] als Cherubino nicht nur sehr gut, sondern [drückt] dabei Gefühle, Worte und Geräusche in einer ungewöhnlichen Wahrhaftigkeit aus. Aber auch Dorothea Röschmann gelingt in der "Dove sono"-Arie eine spannende Mischung aus Wärme und fast pathologischer innerer Erregung . . . Anna Netrebkos Susanna [klingt] vitaler und jugendlicher . . . Überwiegend Positives ist über die Herren zu berichten. Bo Skovhus gibt den Grafen . . . mit schönem Bariton, der inzwischen weiter gereift ist und mit einer besonderen Ausdruckskraft beeindruckt . . . Seinen dritten Salzburger Figaro bewältigte Ildebrando D'Arcangelo vorbildlich . . . Fran-Josef Selig ist ein prächtiger Bartolo und gibt viel Stimme und Charakter, Patrick Henckens ist als Basilio luxuriös besetzt. Nicht zu vergessen Eva Liebaus tonschöne Barbarina . . .
Record Review /
Das Opernglas (Hamburg) / 01. June 2007
Der Altmeister des Originalklangs entschleunigt den kostbaren Notentext . . . dabei unendlich viele Details aufdeckend. So geht es auch -- zumal wenn sein Starensemble ( . . . top: Schäfer als Cherubino, stark: Netrebko als Susanna) so werkdienlich harmoniert wie hier.
Record Review /
Audio (Stuttgart) / 01. October 2007
Not Just a “Crazy Day"
Their marriage is on the rocks. as soon as the curtain rises on Le nozze di Figaro, Count Almaviva, who with the help of the eponymous hero of the Barber of Seville had bewitched the beautiful and wealthy Rosina and quite literally swept her off her feet, is on the look-out for new conquests. And from her very first entrance the Countess, too, leaves us in no doubt why she is so deeply unhappy. Her husband is threatening to slip from her grasp, and so she comes to an arrangement with her maid, Susanna, who is the object of the Count's attentions. As a woman of the Rococo world, she also finds consolation with the Count's page, Cherubino. Above all, she is resolute, in spite of all the insults that she has suffered and the sadness that she feels. Only Figaro, who is normally so well informed, fails to appreciate the full extent of the crisis in the relationship between his master and mistress. Susanna opens his eyes and awakens his fighting spirit, persuading him to set in train the intrigue that ultimately escapes from his control. “Given the unpredictability of the emotions", says the conductor, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Le nozze di Figaro does not really end. The work, he argues, is “a slice of life, everything can keep on going the way it is".
Harnoncourt has long been convinced that Mozart's opera buffa is “very witty, but in the sense of 'intelligent'" and that it is “concerned only with relationships". The director Claus Guth took up this idea and in preparing for his Salzburg production studied the plays of Ibsen and Strindberg and the films of Ingmar Bergman. Together with his designer Christian Schmidt he relocated the action from 18th-century Andalusia to fin-de-siècle Central Europe. An impressive belle époque staircase with abnormally wide steps houses the action, the characters directed as if in a play by Strindberg or a film by Bergman: much can be guessed, but we can never know all that the protagonists are feeling and thinking. In this draughty ambience, Harnoncourt has made himself at home, allowing Mozart's music to unfold at a leisurely pace. By slowing down and stressing points of detail, Harnoncourt is able to ensure that the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra produces a very specific and individual Figaro sound.
Blinded by young love, Figaro sings of the joys of his new home, but even as he is doing so Almaviva makes his first visible move on his wife's chambermaid, Susanna, who, although she responds with a certain coyness, nonetheless enjoys her master's advances (or at least she accepts them and plays along with them for tactical reasons). The end of the work is not located in the manor-house park specified in the libretto. It opens, significantly, with a view from the park of the double doors that lead out to it. But what follows is an exploration of the characters' blindness in the room familiar from the earlier acts, except that on this occasion the banisters and so on are doubled, as if in a mirror, suggesting the curious way in which our perceptions may be mistaken.
In the background the newly invented figure of an angel provides a constant presence, a Cherubino-like doppelgänger with Cupid's wings who underscores the page's erotic influence, while also functioning as a guardian angel and Fury. In philosophical discussions of Mozart's oeuvre, Don Giovanni was quickly interpreted as Cherubino returning from war. In fact, Guth, who is a master of the subtle psychological portrait, regards Count Almaviva as a double of the dubious hero of Don Giovanni - that “opera of all operas" - and portrays him as a compulsive erotomaniac, a man in his mid-forties obsessed with sex, always wanting to get a look-in, yet never able to do so in the way he wants, at least not in the course of the period covered by the action of the opera. Instead, he remains a picture of bourgeois domesticity. After snatching a kiss from Susanna, he grabs his white handkerchief with the panic-stricken gesture of a man anxious not to be caught in flagrante delicto. Time and again Almaviva dabs away the sweat as he stalks the women in his household - thanks to the costumes that Christan Schmidt has created for his domestic staff, the image of the philanderer - in German Schürzenjäger, literally an “apron-chaser" - may be taken literally here. One expects Sigmund Freud to enter this unfathomable world of Viennese affluence, and yet even Freud's penetrating insights cannot entirely untangle the ravelled skein of emotions left hanging in the air in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro.
Frieder Reininghaus 01/2007
Le nozze di Figaro, K.492 - "Voi signor, che giusto siete"