Writes British critic Alan Blyth in his liner notes, "The summer of 1942 was not the most auspicious time to present opera in a German-speaking country or indeed anywhere else. In Austria, under Nazi rule, all sorts of edicts had to be obeyed, and the Salzburg Festival was no exception. Where this performance of Mozart's Figaro is concerned, a new and politically approved translation into the vernacular had to be approved. Rather than basing its casts as in the recent past on Vienna-based singers, familiar with each other's performance, it was decreed that artists from various German theatres were to be engaged: indeed not a single singer from the 1941 Figaro performances in Salzburg survived to appear in 1942. Clemens Krauss, whose position vis-?-vis the Nazis has never quite been clarified, came from Munich to, as it was declared at the time, save the Festival. He in turn called in Walter Felsenstein, no less, to direct a new production.
The Viennese-born Krauss, 49 in 1942, was director at the Frankfurt Opera, 1924-9, then held various posts until taking over the Bavarian State Opera in Munich in 1937, where he confirmed his reputation as one of the most alert and perceptive opera conductors of his era. Throughout this period he was also a regular conductor in his native Vienna. In 1942 he was self-evidently at the height of his powers as an interpreter, this Figaro showing the dramatic flair that informed all his performances.
We can but be astonished that such fraught circumstances could allow such a satisfying, dramatically pointed interpretation of the work to be presented. For that Krauss must take the major part of the praise."
CD-1062(3) MOZART'S MARRIAGE OF FIGARO IN WARTIME SALZBURG. W.A. Mozart: Die Hochzeit des Figaro. With Hans Hotter as Almaviva, Helena Braun as the Countess, Irma Beilke as Susanna, Erich Kunz as Figaro; Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Clemens Krauss; a live performance recorded in August 1942 at the Salzburg Festival. Special bonus: Never-before-released concert recordings from the 1942 Salzburg Festival: Beethoven: Egmont Overture, cond. Mengelberg, Palestrina: Motet, O Süsser Schlummer, cond. Krauss, Respighi: I Pini di Roma (exc.), cond. Krauss, De Falla: Noches en Los Jardines de Espana with José Cubiles, piano, cond. Ansermet; all with the Vienna Philharmonic. Three CDs: 71:16 plus 73:56 plus 74:57. (AAD) UPC#0-17685-10622-4. A co-production with the Deutsches Rundfunkarchiv (DRA)