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Mozart - Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro)
List Price: $39.98

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Product Description

Mozart's Marriage of Figaro is a comedy whose dark undertones explore the blurred boundaries between dying feudalism and emerging Enlightenment. Among dozens of fine Figaros on CD and DVD, few are as finely sung as this one, filmed in 1976 to a soundtrack recorded the previous year.

Herman Prey's Figaro is admirably sung in a firm baritone and aptly characterized. So too, is his antagonist, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau as the Count perpetually frustrated by the scheming wiles of Figaro and Susanna, here the perky Mirella Freni, who sings and acts like a dream. The Countess is creamy-voiced Kiri Te Kanawa, and the Cherubino, Maria Ewing, looks just like the horny, teenaged page she's supposed to be. The all-star leads are complemented by worthy supporting singers, the Vienna Philharmonic at the top of its form, and the experienced Mozartian, Karl B?hm conducting a stylishly fleet performance.

The problematic visuals though, don't match the musical attributes of this Figaro. Director Jean-Pierre Ponnelle says film techniques of editing and special effects permit added musical and interpretive components. So we get nervously irrelevant camera movements, distorted close-ups, jump-cuts that place singers in impossible places during arias, and--most distracting of all--arias on the soundtrack while the "singer" stares close-mouthed at walls, ceilings, and furnishings. Try Te Kanawa's beautifully sung "Porgi amor" to see how this distracting technique subverts the music, rather than "complementing" it. Of course, this may not bother many but others will prefer to listen to the glorious soundtrack and give Ponnelle's directorial hubris a pass. --Dan Davis

Customer Reviews:

  • Only half of the opera!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Please, pay attantion!!!!
    This VHS is the second part of the opera!!!!
    When you order this tape you can not see the bigger immage,and also nobody informes you about this. Now I don't know how to find the first part of the opera....more info
  • Mozart-Le Nozze Di Figaro DVD
    I love this DVD with an all star cast including two of my favorite baritones,Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Hermann Prey. It is a fun filled opera....more info
  • OK, but not perfect
    I think that Le Nozze di Figaro is one of the greatest operas ever written. I own many recordings of this work. I have bought this DVD based on the recommendations of the reviewers, most of whom gave very positive feedback about this production. Perhaps I had high expectations, but after listening to this DVD I was disappointed.

    Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed this DVD, but then I have not yet seen a Figaro that I have not enjoyed. The music is superb and you can't help but revel in its beauty.

    This DVD features great artists. Figaro, Susanna, the Count and the Contessa are truly great. However, Cherubino or Barbarina could be better.

    It is understood that Cherubino, a 13 year old boy, is to be sung by a soprano. This is the reason why this role is played by a woman, but he should at least look like a boy or young man. This Cherubino definitely looks like a woman. Barbarina is supposed to be about the same age as Cherubino, but looks much older in this production.

    The sound quality is awful, especially when the singers move around the stage. This is especially true if you have high end equipment.

    This production assumes that you either know the libretto or understand Italian. If you rely on the subtitles, you will miss most of the story line. Yes, you will get a general idea of what is going on, but you will miss many important (and humorous) lines.

    Overall, it is a great DVD if you are very familiar with Mozart's work and want to enjoy another production of it. I certainly would not recommend it as your first Figaro DVD. Instead, I would strongly suggest the so called "Bohm's" edition, featuring Mirella Freni, Hermann Prey, Kire Te Kanawa, and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. In my opinion, this is the best Figraro production ever.
    ...more info
  • better than I could ever have hoped
    I am not a great opera fan, but I love Mozart and really wanted to hear the whole Marriage of Figaro beyond the too-familiar overture. I read the reviews on this one and it seemed more like a movie than a Brunhilda endurathon. BOY DID I FIND A GOOD ONE! If ratings had six stars I would give this seven. You will LOVE this performance. Excellent choreography, cinematography, casting, acting, singing, scenery. The english subtitles were easy to read and unobtrusive. The case comes with a summary of the storyline, scene-by-scene, which is good for knowing what the story is about beforehand. Even my 16-year old daughter and wife (who said that up to now she hated opera) both loved it. We are now all fans of Ponnelle. Wonderful!...more info
  • We're getting there....
    OK.... the best, and I mean BEST production of my fave Mozart opera was televised "Live from the Met" in 1985 [or so] with Kathleen Battle, Rugero Raimondi, Thomas Allen and Carol Vaness. It was practically flawless. It was also a Ponnelle production and practically the same production as this 1976 film. Alas the film is not flawless. The cast is great and the ideas are the same as the staged 1985 version, but on film Ponnelle does some things that just don't work. His stage craft does not hold up well on film....until he manages to give in to the stage and put THAT on film as he does with his fantastic "La Cenerentola" and his indeed flawless Monteverdi operas.

    This "Figaro" seems cramped and crowded. And when characters sing their innermost thoughts, as they often do, Ponnelle puts the music and words on the soundtrack, but on camera we get creepy close ups, like Cherubino's act one aria where he looks like he's on a bad acid trip. Just to confuse you even more, it's not consistent. Sometimes the characters sing out their thoughts, sometimes they're only on the soundtrack. And how about the scene that starts the great rollercoaster of the finale of Act II. The Count and Contessa are singing, but Susanna is thinking. We hear her voice on the soundtrack blending with the others, but she's not singing like the others. Just plain weird. All this [and the bad costumes... the '85 version had great clothes however!] just make this a very uneven" Figaro"... even though it's practically the same production as the Met's. An interesting study in stage vs film. That is if the Met would release their Live from the Met broadcast on DVD!

    So, in my search for my perfect "Figaro", I'm getting there...but... so close and yet so far!...more info
  • A gift to the eyes, earls and soul.
    Well, a Mozart in Video. So soft, so funny, so sweet. That is what I was looking for since a long time ago. Finally I got it and in this DVD.

    Ponelle is a genius, is a mozartean as well, unfortunately he passed away before doing the Don Giovanni. What about the Idomeneo? Let's not talk about this.

    This DVD has an amazing interpretation of this Opera. It's very funny. The music, conducted by Bohm is lucid and clear. What winds this orchestra has! The "Porgi Amor", with Te Kanawa singing is just about to take you to the Heaven.
    It takes place in a beautiful scenario. Nice costumes and good number of scenes and takes.
    Ponelle likes the closes and so do I. The playback is helpful in order to avoid the ugly expressions of some singers when reaching too high or low notes. However, sometimes you see a lack of synchrony, but nothing really ugly.
    There is only one drawback in this recording. The frame freezing in the moment that Marcelina says to Susanna that she is Figaro's Mom. I didn't like it.
    On the rest, the film is really dynamic.
    The best part is, for me, the Frey's interpretation of the recitative and aria "Madre. Madre, son morto./Aprite un pu¨® quegli ochi." He did a great job here. Putting the heart in the music and doesn't loosing the humor.
    Cherubino is a very nice character and is doing fine here. The susanna is gorgeous in his mood. The "Conte" is a rascal very well done by Dieskau. "La contessa" rules. Marcelina and Bartolo are really funny. So is Basilio.
    After the last coda you will stay in your seat, thinking. "This cannot finish, this should last forever".

    If you are looking for a really dynamic and funny Figaro, with amazing singers , amazing conductor and nice orchestra and, in addition, with great scene play and gorgeous acting. Buy this DVD.

    ...more info
  • pure pleasure
    This is an ideal version of the opera both vocally and visually. It is in the spirit of the play, the direction respects the text, the singing and acting are excellent and a lot of fun. A joy to watch....more info