Mozart: Le Nozze di Figaro – review

Tomowa-Sintow/Cotrubas/Von Stade/Van Dam/Krause/Vienna State Opera/Von Karajan
(Orfeo, three CDs)

In 1957, Herbert von Karajan became artistic director of the Vienna State Opera. He held the post until 1964, when he stepped down amid much high-profile acrimony, and then concentrated his operatic work on the festival in his home city, Salzburg, where he could rule the roost and work with the orchestra that he had moulded in his own image, the Berlin Philharmonic. Eventually, he was persuaded to return to Vienna in 1977 for a handful of performances. He conducted two productions: one was Verdi's Il Trovatore, the other Le Nozze di Figaro, in a staging by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle that had originated in Salzburg. This is Austrian Radio's recording of Figaro's opening night; the starry cast is a typical 1970s Karajan one, with Anna Tomowa-Sintow a rather stately Countess, Tom Krause a blustering Count, and rather more dramatic life coming from the other principals, José van Dam as Figaro, Ileana Cotrubas a quicksilver Susanna, and Frederica von Stade's winning Cherubino. Karajan's approach is, as you'd expect, carefully moulded. But some of his tempi are surprisingly fast – the beginning of the second-act finale has a wonderfully light touch, for instance – though wit and spontaneity are in short supply.

Contributor

Andrew Clements

The GuardianTramp

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