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Mozart: Le Nozze di Figaro

4.5 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Mirella Freni, Hermann Prey, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Kiri Te Kanawa, and Maria Ewing star in this Jean-Pierre Ponnelle-directed version of the Mozart opera, with Karl Bohm conducting the Vienna Philharmonic.

Amazon.com

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 Böhm 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


Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Hermann Prey, Mirella Freni, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Kiri Te Kanawa, Maria Ewing
  • Directors: Jean-Pierre Ponnelle
  • Writers: Beaumarchais, Lorenzo da Ponte
  • Producers: Fritz Buttenstedt
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Classical, Color, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: Italian (DTS 5.1), Italian (PCM Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, German, French, Italian
  • Dubbed: Italian
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Deutsche Grammophon
  • DVD Release Date: June 14, 2005
  • Run Time: 181 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007P0LNO
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33,526 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Mozart: Le Nozze di Figaro" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
and a true dearth in opera presentations today to realize how ingenious Jean Pierre Ponnelle was. DG can be thanked for reissuing this lively film version of Mozart's classic with energy, excitement, dramatic tension and comedy, all without distorting Mozart or DaPonte's intentions or presenting a lot of whack-a-mole comedy or confusing "updating". Nonetheless, this is far from a stand-up-and-sing traditional staging. The direction brings an abundance of clarity to the plot and situations (aka, the Act Two finale). The singers taking part were just as dedicated to the drama as the music, a true ensemble performance, where no individual was doing a "star turn". It can be argued that this film version is not truthful to a true staged operatic presentation, and I can see the point of that argument. I feel Ponnelle's film can be enjoyed on its own as a unique entertainment, and I think you will too.
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A studio production, shot on film for German television. Subtitles are provided in various languages: the English one is useful and accurate, though inevitably some of Da Ponte's nuances are lost. The image is crisp and pleasing (unlike the flatly-lit, saturated Ponnelle "Carmina Burana"). The sound hardly betrays its age: a relief after the ragged sound on the Losey "Don Giovanni" DVD. The recitatives have a drier acoustic -- recorded on set, perhaps? The singers are all on top form, and near ideal. (Maria Ewing as Cherubino makes a convincing adolescent boy, even in close-up.) Böhm knows how to point every aspect of this wondrously varied score. Basilio and Marcellina lose their Act 4 arias. Ponnelle's direction shows insight, imagination and meticulous planning. There is only one serious miscalculation, when he has the Count strike the Countess in the Act 2 finale. The production as a whole is funny and exuberant and serious and clever (hints of the imminent revolution are not labored) and never vulgar. A feast for the eyes, the ears, and the mind.
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Format: DVD
I am familiar with Jean-Pierre Ponelle from 2 other DVD releases: Rossini's THE BARBER OF SEVILLE (Claudio Abbado/La Scala Orchestra, with Hermann Prey, Luigi Alva, Teresa Berganza, Enzo Dara, Paolo Montarsalo, Stefania Malagu, Hans Kraemer - DG, 1972); and Verdi's RIGOLETTO (Ingvar Wixell, Luciano Pavarotti, with Riccardo Chailly/Vienna Philharmonic - Decca, 1983) and was interested to try his version of Mozart's great comic opera, THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO. Considering this had a star line up of great singers: Hermann Prey, Mirelli Freni, Kiri Te Kanawa, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Paolo Montarsalo, Maria Ewing, Janet Perry, Hans Kraemer, with Karl Bohm/Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, I didn't see how I could go wrong. I was NOT disappointed: this DVD has everything: wonderful stereo sound (remastered for surround sound systems), singing, staging, and special effects. Mozart's music is well served, and all the singers have great acting skills in addition to being terrific singers.

Some tempos are slightly slower than one might hear in an opera house or audio only studio version, but that only adds to the excitement and intensity of the music. Add in also the fact that the 4 principals in 1976: Prey, Freni, Te Kanawa, Fischer-Dieskau, are handsome/beautiful (as the case may be) + great singers. They express so well what is being sung, and Ponelle's concept to have them singing as if in thought (especially in two of Te Kanawa's arias) is very effective. (The aria - singer's voice - is heard, but the singer's mouth does not move.)

I am no authority on Mozart operas, opera staging, or even the music, but some of the arias have been familiar to me for over 30 years.
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Format: DVD
I completely agree with most of the reviews submitted so far but.... how about the conductor? All too often praise is heaped on the singers and director but the conductor frequently becomes a distant third with barely a mention. Here we have one of the greatest Mozart conductors of the 20th century - Karl Bohm. If it wasn't for Bohm's sublime and insightful interpretation which shines from start to finish with integrity, this performance wouldn't be going anywhere. Bohm holds the performance together and gives the director something to work with. On the other hand, it doesn't matter how good the director is, with a lousy conductor he is just wasting his time, as more than a few recent DVD operatic issues attest to. Weak conducting allows the production to be lopsided in favor of the director which is never good as the director, often a non-musician, is forced to interpret the music. A strong performance such as this is always a partnership but the musical values should ALWAYS come from the conductor and he should ensure that they remain so. In this production Ponnelle has taken Bohm's interpretation as a starting point and built on it to a stunning effect - a true partnership.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Let's cut to the chase: you will not find a finer sung Figaro (either on CD or DVD) than this one. Cast is idiomatic. Bohm and the Vienna Phil are also superlative. Now to the bone of contention: the opera is filmed as a film (like Zefirelli's Traviata; Ponelle's Rigoletto, etc.). For some "purists" (or "fogies" --your choice of terms, but functionally the same), if an opera production doesn't look like it's been filmed from the 10th row, it's not an opera. If I want to see a stilted, single perspective view of an opera, I'll go to the real thing. Yes, as the Amazon reviewer notes, there are a couple of scenes in which the singers don't move their lips (to represent thinking); that "egregious sin"

is far outweighed by the breadth of scenery, the attention to detail, and the action allowed by a moving camera with multiple, real backdrops. Bravo Ponnelle!
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