Definitely worth watching, but at the same time this Figaro was lacking for me
As I have said many times I love opera and Le Nozze Di Figaro is one of my favourites. I did find this 1963 Salzburg performance lacking a little for my tastes and I can think of better versions(Ponnelle's film, 1966 Salzburg, 1973, 1993, 1994 and 1998) but it is definitely worth seeing.
I did find that Lorin Maazel's conducting needed more of a lighter touch, the end of Act 2 which is one of my favourite parts of the opera was for me too pedantic(though it is not as problematic as Goerg Solti for the 1980 Paris performance). I was mixed also on two performances. Gabriella Sciutti is suitably charming and pert as Susanna and her Deh Vieni Non Tardar is very delicately sung, however I did find her tendency to peck at notes irritating. Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau sings beautifully and with his usual musicality and intelligence, but I found him far more convincing in Ponnelle's film, here he is too refined and cuts a rather stiff figure on stage disallowing the Count's anger and buffoonery to properly come out.
However, the orchestral playing is very beautiful and always precise, I found myself particularly moved by the Act 4 denouncement, I have always considered it one of opera's most touching moments and I wasn't let down. The costumes and decor are nothing fancy and have been more sumptuous in other productions, but are still in good taste and acceptable enough. The comedy sparkles and while broad in places never overdoes it and there is plenty of charm also, especially with Cherubino's arias, Figaro in Act 1 and the end of Act 3.
Geraint Evans' Figaro is excellent, his voice is rich and he has his ever characterful stage presence. Hilde Guden's bright silvery soprano is ideal for the role of the Countess and she gives a pained and moving performance, Dovo Sono is enough to reduce anybody to tears. The now regrettably late Evelyn Lear is an appropriately impetuous Cherubino, and sings with lovely tone. Peter Lagger's Bartolo is amusing and for a bass that specialised in Wagner Lagger is surprisingly flexible, while Patricia Johnson is very good as Marcellina.
All in all, not the best version for me but worth seeing if you want generally great singing and a good deal of fun and charm. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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