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Mozart: Operas Box set

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Audio CD, Box set, March 26, 2013
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German conductor Otto Klemperer attended the Hoch Conservatorium in Frankfurt-am-Main, studied violin and piano at the Klindworth-Scharwenka and Stern Conservatories in Berlin, and composition with the German composer Pfitzner. He made his début in Berlin in 1905, where he conducted fifty performances of Offenbach's Orpheus in the Underworld, not a work that would now be identified ... Read more in Amazon's Otto Klemperer Store

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Product Details

  • Conductor: Otto Klemperer
  • Composer: Mozart
  • Audio CD (March 26, 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 11
  • Format: Box set
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Warner Classics
  • ASIN: B00AOG6P86
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #64,120 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Editorial Reviews

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Otto Klemperer's death, EMI Classics pays tribute to the incomparable conductor with the release of an extensive edition of 11 luxurious yet affordably-priced boxsets. Two new sets devoted to operas by Mozart, Wagner and Strauss are available this March.

This 11-CD collection showcases four of Mozart's most celebrated operas, Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, Così fan tutte and Die Zauberflöte, with the inimitable Otto Klemperer at the helm. Featuring a host of star performers, including Lucia Popp as Despina, Elisabeth Söderström as Countess Almaviva and Nicolai Gedda as Tamino, these classic recordings demonstrate Klemperer's supreme understanding of Mozart's operas.

It was one of the bonuses of Klemperer's Indian Summer in the recording studio that he was able to record all three Mozart/Da Ponte operas, as well as Die Zauberflöte, a work for which he had a particularly deep affection. Die Zauberflöte was, he believed, a 'perfect' composition, albeit an inexhaustible one which no single production could ever hope to encompass. Sadly productions which he conducted in Berlin in 1929, Milan in 1950 and London in 1962 were all unsatisfactory in one way or another. Perhaps, in the end, it required what André Malraux called the 'musée imaginaire' of the gramophone to realize Klemperer's dream of this 'perfect' work.

Klemperer's 1964 recording of Die Zauberflöte came close to an ideal, despite the abridgements he imposed. For the recording, Klemperer was working with a hand-picked cast including Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Christa Ludwig, and Marga Höffgen which Producer Walter Legge confidently declared to be 'as perfect as the world s resource could yield'. The set was, and remains, a glorious achievement and set the stage for Klemperer to continue to record the three Da Ponte operas. The first was Don Giovanni, an opera with which the demonically driven Klemperer had been closely associated throughout his career. EMI continued to provide stellar casts for their Mozart recordings, none more so than that for Così fan tutte, a project which brought Klemperer's career as a Mozart conductor full circle. The concert performance of Così fan tutte which he conducted in London on February 21, 1971 was to be his final operatic offering: a fitting end to a journey that had begun in a different age, and a very different world over half a century earlier.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By John Fowler TOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 27, 2013
Format: Audio CD
Klemperer's 1966 recording of Don Giovanni with Nicolai Ghiaurov was first issued on CD in 1991, reissued on 2012.
The sound was not remastered for the reissue, but is very good indeed.
It is now included in this 11 CD box of Mozart, published in 2013.

The performance is heavy and dramatic.
Not the currently accepted Mozart style.
I'd rather hear this than an "elegant" performance.

The 2012 version included 59 minutes of rehearsal excerpts, mostly devoted to Mirella Freni as Zerlina: Don Giovanni
The opera, but NOT the rehearsal CD, is included in the box under review. A shame.

I had a crush on Mirella Freni, and it sounds like Otto Klemperer did too.
It actually sounds like the 81 year-old conductor is flirting with the 31 year-old singer.
This is not what I expected a Klemperer rehearsal to sound like.

Klemperer's Magic Flute was justifiably included in EMI's "Great Recordings of the Century" - Mozart: Die Zauberflote (The Magic Flute) ~ Klemperer / Schwarzkopf / Ludwig - or - Die Zauberflote

The Cosi fan tutte and Marriage of Figaro are very controversial: Mozart: Cosi Fan Tutte - or -
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Stanley Crowe TOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 2, 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I now own three recently issued Klemperer boxes: Beethoven Symphonies, Romantic Symphonies, and Concertos. I own as single discs the content of Klemperer's Brahms box, and I have his "Flying Dutchman" and "Fidelio." So . . . I like Otto Klemperer. This Mozart Operas box is a tremendous bargain, like the others I've mentioned, but these recordings ought not to be the only ones you own of these operas ("Marriage of Figaro," "Don Giovanni," "Cosi Fan Tutte, " and "Magic Flute"). They are idiosyncratic, problematic, and yet very compelling, but for purposes of comparison, you would do well to have on hand Guilini's "Marriage" and "Don Giovanni," Abbado's or Haitink's "Flute," and Solti's or Davis's "Cosi." In this box, the least controversial performance is of the "Flute" -- a very good cast, good sound, and no spoken dialogue. It's considered a "classic of the gramophone," so I'll say no more about it here.

The other operas are paced much more deliberately than one usually hears, so their success depends on the quality of the cast and their ability to bring their roles dramatically to life under Klemperer's direction. The Klemperer sound is well to the fore: massive sound, solid, steady rhythms, lovely woodwind playing, and real care for phrasing, even at the slower tempos. Does it work? Or rather, where does it work and where doesn't it? First, a caveat: one feature of the sound is that the musical numbers are recorded in a different aural space than the recitatives. That doesn't make the sound bad, but it's a distraction for a while. Comments on individual operas follow:

"Marriage of Figaro": Geraint Evans is Figaro, and he's very good, singing with character (he's a bitter, angry Figaro) and well-supported tone.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Awesome singing, very good recording.
I love the slower tempi as it allows more depth and meaning to the words.
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful By B Bailey on September 15, 2013
Format: Audio CD
The first time I ever heard Don Giovanni decades ago, I thought it was boring, tedious and too long. The next time I heard it I fell head over heels in love with it and couldn't stop playing it. The difference? The first time was the Klemperer recording on Angel, reissued in this box. The second time was the earlier Giulini recording on the same label. Night and day.
EMI gave Klemperer some wonderful casts for these performances and it irks me that the other two da Ponte operas, Nozze and Cosi, couldn't have had Giulini or virtually any other conductor on their roster at the time.

That said, the Magic Flute recording is very successful even without the spoken dialogue, Klemperer's approach is devoted and serves the music well, superbly cast and altogether absorbing. It's probably the best Flute recording of its era, though I wouldn't be without the Boehm DG set either.

Now if I could speed up the da Ponte sets without altering pitch and vocal timbre, digitally feasible, they might finally be accessible to me! Might be worth a try...
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