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Mozart: La Finta Giardiniera [Blu-ray]

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Nikolaus Harnoncourt released his first recording of La Finta Giardiniera over a quarter of a century ago. But until this 2006 performance at the Zurich Opera House the Mozart master had not conducted a staged production of the work. A star studded cast from around the world compliments the subtle yet powerful reading, which proves itself to be an event in itself.

Review

Christopher Williams reviewed the conventional DVD version of this, along with a competing Salzburg Festival DG issue conducted by Ivor Bolton, in Fanfare 31:1. Williams found that this Harnoncourt performance on TDK offered "a fuller text, tighter ensemble, and more `traditional' stagecraft," but less dynamism in individual roles. Still, wrote Williams, "Harnoncourt delivers a lively and captivating performance, with that characteristic Harnoncourt `bite' and penchant for surging hairpin dynamics." The Harnoncourt "bite" is difficult to discern on the Blu-ray's DTS-HD audio track, which softens the orchestral attacks and puts the singers at a great distance; they've got less volume to cut through the swimmy acoustics than in the closer, clearer PCM stereo version, which presents everyone to much better advantage.

I agree with Williams that Christoph Strehl displays "a voice of spun (and occasionally crooning) gold," but with the exception of Eva Mei, whose performance is notable for its balance of warmth with lightness and delicacy, the other singers fall a bit short of perfection. Liliana Nikiteanu lacks the stamina to carry her all the way through some phrases, and Rudolf Schasching can be a little coarse vocally. Furthermore, the cameras aren't always pointing at the right character. Even so, it's overall an enjoyable performance, for more details on which you should consult the earlier review.

About this Blu-ray version, I'll say that the picture is very crisp, with subtle gradations and shadings of color. There are no extra video features, though, and no onscreen scene selection menu beyond the division of acts; on the other hand, individual numbers are indexed and listed in the booklet, which also includes a little multilingual essay by director Tobias Moretti on his concept--and that's about it. So in terms of both packaging and performance, this is a very good release that could have been better. --Fanfare, James Reel, January 2010


Product Details

  • Actors: Rudolf Schasching, Eva Mei, Christoph Strehl, Isabel Rey, Liliana Nikiteanu
  • Directors: Tobias Moretti
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Classical, NTSC, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Language: Italian (DTS-HD High Res Audio), Italian (PCM Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English, German, French, Italian, Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Arthaus
  • DVD Release Date: February 26, 2013
  • Run Time: 187 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • ASIN: B00ARWDS0A
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #322,977 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

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Top Customer Reviews

Written when Mozart was just 18 years old, La Finta Giardiniera is undoubtedly one of the composer's lesser works. It's very conventional in its arrangements, the development of the story and the tone owing much to the Neapolitan opera buffa style popularised by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi. With Mozart, as with Pergolesi, however, there's a great deal of interest in the common people and a conflict exists between the serving classes and their masters where the roles are often somewhat reversed. With several characters assuming secret identities, appearances are often deceptive, and happiness cannot be found while one's true self is kept hidden. Even the gender confusion over the cross-dressing and the filling of male roles by female singers and castrati that are typical of these kind of comedies plays on this. Who really rules the roost and who wears the trousers?

What further distinguishes and exalts Mozart's (and indeed Pergolesi's) treatment of this fairly standard Metastasian situation more than just the realisation of the comic potential within the work, is the playfulness and the originality of the manner in which he brings order to all this confusion. It's far from Le Nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, or indeed Così Fan Tutte (but then it doesn't have a libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte either), but even in this early work by the composer, the arrangements in La Finta Giardiniera are light and clever, sparkling with wit and invention in a way that belies what could otherwise be a heavy-handed melodrama filed with unlikely contrivances. There's a lightness and vibrancy, a consistency and appropriateness of tone that Mozart brings to the work, and that's brought out wonderfully by the La Scintilla orchestra of the Zurich Opera House under Nicholas Harnoncourt.
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