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Ghost Canyon

Title - 'Mozart: Le nozze di Figaro'
Artist - Chamber Orchestra of Europe

After Don Giovanni, Così fan tutte and Die Entführung aus dem Serail this is the forth of DGs series of seven Mozart operas conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, and initiated by Rolando Villazon, in collaboration with U-Live, Festspielhaus Baden Baden and with the generous support of ROLEX.

This incredible 3CD box-set Mozart: Le nozze di Figaro was recorded with a stellar cast with stars in every role, one of the brightest and most insightful conductors of our day and a specialist handpicked orchestra playing at their best in the stunning venue of Festspielhaus Baden-Baden (July 2015).

Indeed, for those not in the know, Yannick Nézet-Séguin is a Canadian conductor and pianist. He currently holds leadership posts with the Orchestre Métropolitain (Montréal), the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Philadelphia Orchestra. In June 2016 he was named music director of the Metropolitan Opera in New York beginning in 2020 (assuming the title "music director designate" as of the 2017-2018 season).

The other aspect of this new recording is that it has also been made whole by The Chamber Orchestra of Europe (COE). Established in 1981, the COE is administratively based in London. The orchestra comprises about 60 members coming from across Europe. The players pursue parallel careers as international soloists, members of eminent chamber groups, and as tutors and professors of music. The orchestra receives substantial support from the Gatsby Charitable Foundation and the Underwood Trust. Interestingly enough though, they have no single home resident hall and no appointed resident conductor.

The principles all perform to the best they can be also: Thomas Hampson's Count illuminates every word, Sonya Yoncheva's Countess recalls Callas vocal colors, Angela Brower's fascinatingly delicate, sensitive Cherubino is perfect, and Anne Sofie von Otter's wonderfully perceptive, charming Marcellina is delightful; all in a performance crowned by Christiane Karg's enchanting Susanna and Rolando Villazon as Basilio, this performance most definitely, come the end, had the whole audience on their feet.

In truth, Yannick Nézet-Séguin's take here on 'Figaro' alongside the CEO is one that over compensates (many times, in my humble opinion) for the small size of his orchestra by over-accentuating dynamic contrast. Not to say that the 3CD set isn't glorious, sumptuous even in the most lavish of recognized places, for all of the singers are quite responsive to each other and are committed to making the recit sections actually mean something.

Sure the whole thing may not be as characterful or lively as some of the greats (Solti, Giulini, and Gui remain my favorites), but it is far from the dullest operatic affair I feared it could be. That all said, Yannick Nézet-Séguin's work with the COE means the recorded sound here is wonderful as it truly makes the orchestra and the cast sound incredibly rich and full. It may not be a completely natural perspective, but come the end of the 3CDs you won't be disappointed.

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