Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756 - 1791)
Le Nozze di Figaro Opera in Four Acts.
Figaro Sesto Bruscantini
Susanna Graziella Sciutti
Bartolo Ian Wallace
Marcellina Monica Sinclair
Cherubino Risë Stevens
Il Conte Franco Calabrese
Contessa Sena Jurinac
Glyndebourne Festival Chorus Glyndebourne Festival Orchestra
Cond Vittorio Gui
Recorded July 1956, Abbey Road, London. ADD EMI Classics (double fforte)
CZS5 73845 2
CDI 79'09 CD2 78'47"
 Amazon UK         [ Amazon USA Classics for Pleasure release]

Newer recordings come along regularly - all with the latest names, fancy labelling, more trim and sometimes even air-bags - but when a 1956 recording is being re-mastered and reissued 44 years later it clearly must have something to offer. This Vittorio Gui performance of Marriage of Figaro has been around on Classics for Pleasure for many years and its release in new packaging may bring it to the attentions of people who perhaps have missed it previously. The recording deserves to find new admirers.

The opera is not complete - there are omissions in arias and recitatives, but nothing of any substance is taken out and it enables the release to be on two discs, each virtually 80 minutes in duration - most other releases take three. The obvious main competitor that I know is the Giulini version with Taddei and Schwarzkopf (also on EMI) and that too has cuts to bring the recording down to two discs.

The performance is a delight. Gui followed Fritz Busch at Glyndbourne and the recording (in a studio) was mainly based around artists who had sung there or who would do so in due course. There is an ensemble feel to it with the cast responding to each other and there is some very fine singing and characterisation from the principals. Outstanding is a superb Countess by Sena Jurinac, then at the height of her powers and Grazielli Sciutti is a fresh sounding Susanna. Sesto Bruscantini makes a light-voiced, mobile Figaro while Calabrese is a dominating Count while an easily recognisable voice is that of Ian Wallace as Bartolo. Special mention must be made of Raymond Leppard with some fine harpsichord continuo.

With a number of native Italian speakers the recitatives are a model of clarity, but, sadly, presumably on cost grounds, there is not a full libretto. There are 59 cue points in the four acts and a comprehensive synopsis of all 59 is given, but it cannot compensate for the missing words and their detailed meanings. A weakness here is when three female voices are heard in a scene - for example, The Countess, Susanna and Cherubino (a "trouser" role) - and the resulting confusion for the listener.

The recording is early for stereo but perfectly adequate, certainly for the voices which are placed slightly forward. I would not go as far as the Penguin Guide with its Rosette, but at its bargain price this should be snapped up by all admirers of Mozart / Da Ponte and their masterpiece.


Harry Downey


Harry Downey

Reviews from previous months

You can purchase CDs, tickets and musician's accessories and Save around 22% with these retailers : - The UK's Biggest Video Store

Concert and Show tickets


Musicians accessories

Click here to visit

Return to Index