Le Nozze Di Figaro is one of my favourite operas, and as part of the Cult Opera collection of the 70s DVD collection I loved this 1967 production. Some may be turned off by the fact that it's in German, having seen the 1961 Deutsch Oper production of Don Giovanni I actually wasn't really. Sure the denouncement has more poetry in Italian, but (correct me if wrong) I believe the original libretto was written in German, so while there will be those like me who are more used to the opera being in Italian it did make sense at least to have it in German.
Going on from that, the costumes and sets are never overly-elaborate or dull, in fact they are very handsome, and the camera work is not too stiff. Some of the colour may be on the garish side, but it was never a big enough problem to detract from the quality of the musical values and it was appropriate enough for the time. The staging is traditional and well done, with the denouncement moving and thrilling at the same time and the comedy funny without being too broad. The sound is not the sharpest I've encountered but still good.
Musically, this Figaro is sensational, with lively orchestral playing and conducting. The cast are likable just as effective. Heinz Blankenberg is a superb Figaro, his baritone voice is quite light but has enough heartiness and masculinity to make him believable. As well as having a sexy appearance, he is every bit the appealing everyman Figaro ought to be. Edith Mathis I have always admired in Mozart, and I find her Susanna to have similar characteristics to that of her Pamina(Die Zauberflote). Her voice is of great purity, she is radiant and in acting as Susanne she is suitably pert.
Tom Krause is great as the Count. Of course I have seen more refined- in interpretation that is- Counts dramatically(I am a great fan of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau's performance in the Ponnelle film), but still it is easy to see by Krause's stage presence why the Count had such luck with women and his voice has the richness that is ideal vocally for the role. Arlene Saunders later on would sing heavier roles, but for me her moving Countess shows her at her best, with very nuanced singing especially in Porgi Amor.
Elisabeth Steiner's Cherubino is appropriately boyish and very dashing, she sings like a nightingale and she is charming and impetuous. Noël Mangin is an amusing Bartolo, Kurt Marscher's Basilio is characterful and Maria Von Ilosvay is a well sung Marcellina, her rapport with Mathis really bites.
Overall, a sensational Figaro, one of the best I've seen with the 1975 Ponnelle film and 1973, 1993, 1994 and 1998 performances. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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