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Nozze di Figaro

Mozart Glyndebourne Festival Opera, June 1958

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Several justly renowned recordings of the first collaboration between Mozart and Lorenzo da Ponte have come from the Glyndebourne Festival over the years, conducted by Fritz Busch, Vittorio Gui and Bernard Haitink among others. To their number must now be added this evening in June 1958 conducted by Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt, in his only appearance at the Festival.

The performance crackles with wit and tension from the outset, belying Schmidt-Isserstedt's reputation in some quarters as a solid purveyor of the Classics. The cast includes several singers who had lent such distinction to Vittorio Gui s recording of three years previously, including Graziella Sciutti's capricious Susanna, and Hugues Cuénod's turn as Basilio (all the funnier and more spontaneous for being captured live). Distinguished newcomers included the Figaro of Geraint Evans, a baritone long held in esteem by audiences and conductors whose recorded legacy has not done him justice; and the Countess of Pilar Lorengar, then beginning a career that would see her become a favourite of the Royal Opera.

Throughout this recording we sense the pert social comedy and intimacy peculiar both to the opera itself and to the atmosphere fostered by the unique performing conditions available at Glyndebourne; perfectly instantiated in the Cherubino of Teresa Berganza, the Spanish mezzo-soprano who would make a no less memorable impression on UK festival audiences two decades later with her Carmen in Edinburgh. This production of Figaro marked Berganza's UK debut.