B & W 1966 Salzburg Festival 'Nozze' - Traditional Productio
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 09/13/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This ArtHaus Musik DVD of 'Le Nozze di Figaro' from the 1966 Salzburg Festival has the illustrious musical direction of Karl Böhm (a conductor known primarily for his Mozart and Strauss) and the Vienna Philharmonic, as well as a dream cast of Claire Watson as the Countess, Reri Grist as Susanna, Walter Berry as Figaro, Ingvar Wixell as the Count, and the delectable Edith Mathis as Cherubino. Each of the singers was in their prime. The scenery is traditional as is the direction by Günther Rennert. The source of the DVD is a tape made for Austrian Television directed by Hermann Lanske. This DVD has been available previously in a version on a TDK DVD. It appears that that earlier version was on a single DVD and this version is spread over two DVDs. I can't explain that as the total running time is 180 minutes, a timing generally available on one DVD. I have no idea, never having seen the earlier version, whether there is any substantial difference between the two. And it is for this reason (and for the reason that the production was filmed in black & white, a turn-off for some prospective buyers) that I give the set a four star rather than a five star rating. From a strictly musical and production value perspective, it rates five stars.
Highlights: Claire Watson's 'Porgi amor', one of most beautiful performances of that lovely Act II aria I've ever heard. Watson, not as well remembered today as she should be, is one of my favorite Marschallins and certainly is a Mozart singer of the first class. Although her girlish figure is hard to hide, the very young Edith Mathis' Cherubino is a treasure from start to finish. Reri Grist's Susanna is also magnificent, pert and lovable as well as musically above reproach. A little less so are the performances of Berry and Wixell as Figaro and the Count respectively. Berry is musically wonderful but his acting is a little forced; Wixell's acting is wonderful but his singing a little below the best.
So, my advice for anyone wanting a copy of this particular production of Marriage of Figaor that they check out the TDK version, available here at Amazon for a much lower price. Mozart - Le Nozze di Figaro / Bohm, Berry, Grist, Mathis, Wixell, Watson, Kelemen, Bence, Salzburg Festpiele
Total time: 180mins; Sound: PCM mono; Subtitles: English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Chinese; Format: 4:3; Region code: 0 (worldwide)