Mozart: Le nozze di Figaro

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

LABELS: Accent
WORKS: Le nozze di Figaro
PERFORMER: Huub Claessens, Patrizia Biccire’, Werner Van Mechelen, Christiane Oelze, Monica Groop; Namur Chamber Choir, La Petite Bande/Sigiswald Kuijken
For period-instrument performance, Kuijken’s tempi are deliberate, an approach many will welcome, but which is better suited to concerted numbers than recitatives. No doubt these should not be rushed, but they come over as under-characterized, with little inter-action and no audible rapport with the public. One wouldn’t know there was an audience until the applause after each act. Again, some listeners may welcome the absence of intrusion, but if the performance is live, why is there no laughter? Perhaps the listeners didn’t understand the plot (the CD booklet meanly includes the Italian libretto, without translation). The arias also tend to sound dry, but fortunately things warm up in the ensembles and the big finales (applauded with some enthusiasm), where there is less need for interpretation. The singers, nearly all new to me, are perfectly acceptable, vocally if not dramatically. Biccire’s light-voiced countess matches Oelze’s Susanna better than her angry count (Claessens), whose dark voice is more fitted for Figaro or Bartolo. Saelens’s Basilio sounds more melodramatic than malicious and Groop’s Cherubino is spirited, but feminine. The Figaro (van Mechelen) is exempt from my principal criticism, but in tune with the whole affair he appears to lack a sense of fun. Julian Rushton