Erich Kleiber

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Le nozze di Figaro

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Some listeners consider this 1959 recording of Le nozze di Figaro the greatest ever made. The cast was as good as it got for the time, and it remains hard to top today. With the virile Cesare Siepi as Figaro, the seductive Hilde Gueden as Susanna, the sweet Lisa della Casa as the Countess, the robust Alfred Poell as the Count, and the irrepressible Suzanne Danco as Cherubino, the cast is wonderful separately and magnificent together, forming a real ensemble, with acting ability to match the singing ability. What really makes this performance great is the conducting of Erich Kleiber and the playing of the Wiener Philharmoniker. Kleiber keeps things light, moving, and above all, dramatic. Though the plot's twists are well-known, Kleiber's deft pacing makes them somehow surprising. The music would have been well-known to the point of tedium by the Viennese orchestra, but the players make everything in the score sparkle and shine as if newly minted. Though the sound is antique by today's digital standards, it was superlative by late-'50s standards and should present no insuperable barriers for enjoyment.

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