This production created for the opening of the Salzburg Festival in 1966, which remained on the programme for five years, was Karl Böhm?s last Salzburg Figaro. After multiple tries to stage Figaro at the Salzburg Festival ... more »in the 1950's and 60's, the successful team Karl Böhm/Günther Rennert mounted this production with new décor, costumes by Rudolf Heinrich and with a practically new, young cast of singers. It was not only the celebrated highlight of the festival summer 1966 but also became a ?standard for Mozart? ? that at least was the headline the German critic and future director of the Stuttgart Opera, Wolfram Schwinger, gave his report in the ?Stuttgarter Zeitung? of 27 July 1966. "Never before has Figaro been staged in such a totally meaningful way and so balanced in its theatrical and emotional elements." As far as the critics are concerned, the singers of this Salzburg Figaro are also "a stroke of luck for the Festival, who right at the beginning set a risky standard for anything that follows". This film from the archives of Austrian Television, which has been digitally restored in sound and picture for this DVD, preserves an exemplary Mozart performance in its fascinating immediacy, which is rare even at the Salzburg Festival.« less
"Yes, you read the title correctly: this DVD is not in color; however, this is such an amazing production that you can barely notice the fact that it is in black and white after the first few minutes. Swedish baritone Ingvar Wixell is Count Almaviva, and it is unbelievable how his voice sounded in his younger days. He enunciates so clearly that you could hear exactly what he is saying throughout the entire production so well that you could write out the words he sings just from hearing him. his voice is also marvelous and will enchant you until he is all that you can think about. Walter Berry is Figaro, and will make sure that there is a smile on your face throughout the entire production; he is very funny, a good actor, and has a beautiful bass voice suited wonderfully for his part. American soprano Reri Grist is a very sweet and dainty Susanna and almost could make you cry after hearing how beautifuly she sings the rondò, "Deh, vieni, non tardar" in the fourth act. Many buyers might consider it a disadvantage that this DVD is not in color, but anyone who enjoys a good opera regardless of the recording would love it. Even without the color, the sound quality is wonderful. The staging is also very clever and appealing. This was filmed at the Vienna State Opera in 1966 under the baton of Karl Böhm."
Black and white, but is this a problem ???
Erico Mangaravite | Vitoria, ES Brazil | 09/16/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"No, it isn't a problem, 'cause we have one of the best renditions of "Le Nozze di Figaro". Here, the conductor is Karl Böhm, a master in Mozart's music (although a little sleepy in his last years, not the case here), and the main singers are marvellous too: Berry is a clever Figaro, great on stage and with a strong voice; Wixell as The Count contrasts perfectly with his servant, singing with a noble timbre. Grist was one of Böhm's most frequent choices, and sings an idiomatic Susanna . Claire Watson wasn't the best Contessa at that time, but looks like a member of "noblesse" and overall is satisfactory.
Comprimarii singers are good, as the chorus. And the orchestra is Wiener Philharmoniker, no more words about this.
This is a Salzburg Festival's production, taped at 1966. Good image in B&W, nice sound. For a modern production, look at Gardiner's, but this is indispensable.
Old-fashioned, B&W, but enchanting production
Ivy Lin | NY NY | 01/06/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film, taken from a live 1966 Salzburg Festival performance, has a few disdvantages compared with modern films of Nozze di Figaro. For one, it is in B&W, and Act 4 is tightened with the usual cuts of Marcellina and Bartolo's arias. Also, this performance follows mid-20th century German practice by omitting appogiaturas (they were considered "inauthentic") and decorations on the repeats of arias (such as "Voi che sapete"). In other words, very un-historically informed. Otherwise, it's as enchanting of a film of this wonderful opera as your are likely to get. The wit and humanity of Mozart's opera still astounds us after all these years. I always like Mozart's portrayal of women -- they are allowed to have a sex drive and play practical jokes! The production is "traditional" although sharp eyes will detect that in Act 2 when the Contessa and Susanna are disguising Cherubino as a girl they give him a very round, Gone-With-the-Wind-like hoopskirt, which were not around in the 1700s! The cast is ensemble playing and starry at the same time. If I had to single out one performance for praise, it'd be Reri Grist. This pretty, petite African American soprano never achieved the fame of Leontyne Price or Kathleen Battle, but it certainly wasn't because of lack of talent. Grist's Susanna is fun, charming, witty, intelligent, and sings a meltingly beautiful "Deh vieni non tardar." She's also a good colleague too -- she blends her voice beautifully in "Sull'aria." Walter Berry is also a vigorous, funny Figaro. A particularly treasurable moment is when he "psyches up" Cherubino for military service in "Non piu andrai." This production, unlike many modern productions, does not really focus on the blatant sexual attraction of Figaro and Susanna. I happen to think this is right -- Susanna and Figaro are professionals, and not horny teenagers. Claire Watson and Ingvar Wixell are the Contessa and Count. Watson moves graciously and is a witty unusually upbeat Contessa. Her tone, however, lacks the silvery beauty that the best Contessas have (della Casa, te Kanawa). Watson's "Dove sono" has some unexpectedly wavery, suspect moments near the end. Wixell is a very fine, blustery Count. The "upstairs" couple are excellent, but overall, not quite as memorable as the "downstairs" couple of Berry and Grist. Edith Mathis is the *one* slight disappointment. There's nothing actually wrong with her performance, but she lacks the last bit of radiant, innocent randiness that, say, Frederica von Stade brings to this role (see the wonderful Glyndebourne film from 1973). It's a testament to the thoroughness of the casting in Salzburg that two of the finest performances are from Bartolo (Zoltan Kelemen), and Marcellina (Margarethe Bence). Overall, for Mozart/opera lovers, this is a no-brainer. Despite the caveats, it remains extremely charming and lovable. As an aside, I saw a cast of Nozze di Figaro last year at the Metropolitan, with a stellar cast that included Anja Harteros and Dorothea Roschmann. Despite the wonderful cast, however, I thought overall the production lacked the warmth that was so abundant in this B&W film."
"The place: Count Almaviva's - governor of Andalusia - palace in Spain. Countess Rosina is Almaviva's wife but ignorant of the fact that her husband is trying to use the ancient regime credo - the right of the seigneur. (Primae noctis).The Count is looking for amorous advances towards Susanna, the Countess maid and head chambermaid, before the consummation of her marriage to Figaro.
Susanna is to be betrothed to Figaro, the man she loves and to whom she is engaged. Figaro is the count's chief steward and the concierge of his castle.
Count Almaviva discovers that his young attendant, Cherubino, is interested in the Countess. (Actually he was in the love with every woman). So, the Count decides to send Cherubino away as a private in his own regiment.
Suzanna reveals everything o Figaro and the Countess Figaro, Susanna, and the Countess concoct a plot to abash Count Almaviva and disclose his unfaithfulness, forcing the count to look ridiculous and extravagantly farce.
In the meantime Figaro is caught up in a disagreement with doctor Bartholo and Marceline (another housekeeper - in love with Figaro, inadvertently Figaro's mother) which ends up when he is disclosed to be their son.
At night, all find themselves in the palace, where a funny series of cases of mistaken identity results in the Count's disgrace and then pardoned by the Countess. Figaro and Suzanna get married.
In 1786, Mozart set to music this Italian Libretto (often called: The Day of Madness). The opera is comic - buffa, and the libretto is written by Lorenzo da Ponte (I believe in 1784)
Perhaps what's funnier is that this masterpiece was banned in Vienna because it has satirical notions against the aristocracy. Indications of a French revolution were beginning to surface and came two years after Figaro (The fall of the Bastille; march to Versailles, French king and assembly returned to Paris, national guard formed in Paris under Lafayette, rising in French provinces..........)
This recording is lovely. It covers, live; a wide range of music and songs.
There is cracking charm in using motley of assortments of different performances. Karl Bohm, a Mozarist to the bone, has given the opera Music for Life. This is one of different interpretations that I am happy to own .......... For life
Into the Enchanted
Pupil | Malkuth | 05/26/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Modern performances may be more "liberal", but they are too often poisoned by a singer's heightened vanities, prides, arrogances, fears, anxieties etc. etc. etc.
Thus, it is so, so refreshing to plunge into this old-world production of Mozart's enchanting opera, where the singers are much less concerned with "performing" as they are with discovering, enjoying, sharing. So liberal are they truly, that to relativize them is to have already betrayed their magnificent craft.
Here, Figaro makes us smile; Susanna makes us friends; Cherubino makes us reflect; and the Don helps us to change. They sing like different birds.
Immortal Mozart, through the Maestro Bohm and the Vienna Philharmonic, affirms Love and strengthens our hearts.
Though I sense that the great and hidden teachings in this opera must be sought out, yet do its greatest delights and enchanting music shine resplendent for all to share, see, and enjoy."