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MOZART at Salzburg 1963-67

Le Nozze di Figaro (Salzburg Festival 1963)
Graziella Sciutti (Susanna), Geraint Evans (Figaro), Hilde Güeden (Countess), Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Count), Evelyn Lear (Cherubino), Peter Lagger (Bartolo), Patricia Johnson (Marcellina), Vienna State Opera Chorus; Vienna Philharmonic Orch/Lorin Maaze;
Otto Schenk director
Die Zauberflöte (Salzburg Festival 1964)
Walter Berry (Papageno), Pilar Lorengar (Pamina), Roberta Peters (Queen of the Night), Waldemar Kmentt (Tamino), Walter Kreppel (Sarastro), Paul Schöffler (Speaker), Renate Holm (Papagena), Renato Ercolani (Monostatos) ; Vienna State Opera Chorus; Vienna Philharmonic Orch/István Kertész; Otto Schenk director
Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Salzburg Festival 1967)
Ingeborg Hallstein (Konstanze), Reri Grist (Blonde), Luiga Alva (Belmonte), Gerhard Unger (Pedrillo), Fernando Corena (Osmin), Michael Heltau (Pasha Selim), Vienna State Opera Chorus; Vienna Philharmonic Orch/Zubin Mehtachöffler (Speaker), Renate Holm (Papagena), Renato Ercolani (Monostatos); Vienna State Opera Chorus; Vienna Philharmonic Orch/István Kertész; Giorgio Strehler director

An invaluable triple release from VAIMUSIC, celebrating the Salzburg of the '60s, with starry casts of the time, youthful Sciutti, Geraint Evans, Güeden, Fischer-Dieskau etc and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra under up-coming famous conductors Mehta & Kertész replacing Fricsay, who had died when these productions were scheduled.

They are fine records of operatic practice of the period at its best, fine singing with the sound in good mono, pictures 4:3 b & w. The productions are perceptive but not gimmicky or distracting, and there is something quite refreshing about the black and white filming; attention is not taken by details of settings, and facial expressions can be enjoyed equally as in modern DVDs. A reminder of how many marvellous black&white films there were before the current craze for HD & 3-D...

A treasure trove of memories and discoveries, with good notes about the individual productions. The discs are well organised with numbered chapters for selective listening and they may be of particular interest to readers who have collected the 2006 Salzburg M 22 DVDs and only know the "golden age" by repute.

If you want to test the water by buying one first, I'd recommend the wholly delightful Die Entführung, which preserves "one of the most treasured Mozart productions in the Salzburg Festival's history". The brilliant Strehler production held the stage there for a decade. The singing is fabulous, and the lighting, with a unique "shadow play" effect, contributes something special; and it is fun to remind ourselves that in those days opera stars took bows to acknowledge applause for their arias.

Peter Grahame Woolf

See on You-Tube Sciutti and Gueden duetting in the VAI Figaro