Mozart: The Marriage Of Figaro highlights (CD)

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Mirella Freni, Wladimiro Ganzarolli, Yvonne Minton, Jessye Norman, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Sir Colin Davis

This is surely one of the most elegant, heart-warming recordings of ‘The Marriage of Figaro’, capturing the singers – and the conductor – at the peak of their profession. A choice collection of highlights.

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The Marriage of Figaro (highlights)

Jessye Norman, soprano
Mirella Freni
Ingvar Wixell
Wladimiro Ganzarolli

Yvonne Minton
Lillian Watson

BBC Symphony Orchestra & Chorus
Colin Davis

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Highlights from Mozart's popular opera, with Norman, Minton, Freni and Davis



Back when complete operas were recorded in the studio––an art that seems to have been neglected today––"highlights" discs were very popular. The single LPs or CDs were the operatic equivalent of Broadway show albums. They were particularly ideal for Mozart's operas, which are made up of separate arias, trios and so on. (Less than ideal for through-composed music dramas of Wagner.) This Eloquence disc allows us to revisit the "highlights" of a recording that was one of the top Mozart recommendations for over twenty years.

Written in 1786, The Marriage of Figaro was the first of three operas by Mozart to libretti by Lorenzo da Ponte, the others being Don Giovanni and Così fan Tutte.

Sir Colin Davis conducted all three operas during his time as the Music Director at Covent Garden, and recorded them (in the studio) for Philips in the late 1960s. Remember those cavernous LP box sets with the deep orange covers? Although this is not 'historically informed' Mozart, Davis gets a light and brisk response from the BBC Symphony Orchestra. The result is anything but stodgy. Best of all, he has famous and experienced singers at his disposal: Jessye Norman in her early prime as the Countess, Wladamiro Ganzarolli as Figaro, Mirelli Freni as Susanna, Ingvar Wixell as an authoritative Count, and Australian mezzo-soprano Yvonne Minton as Cherubino. None of the recitatives are included but practically all the numbers are here, including the Overture.

This Eloquence reissue has been around since 2000, but remains available and proves to be hugely satisfying. They don't sing Mozart like this any more.