Anett Fritsch’s Mozart is a sheer delight. This is no bland essay of the usual suspects painted in anonymous colours but a vivid portrait gallery of characters that Fritsch has actually played on stage. She presents multiple characters from the three da Ponte operas and they’re all beautifully variegated, all coming across as living, breathing individuals. Fritsch’s is a light soprano – not unlike Maria Bengtsson’s, whose Mozart disc I reviewed last month – but she does so much more with the text and characterisation.
Her Cherubino is breathless with hormonal excitement (‘Voi che sapete’ wonderfully ornamented in the repeat), her Countess aches with pain. Fritsch does marvels with the text, clearly understanding every word. Her Susanna is coquettish, with rolled Rs in ‘dolce susurro’ making my heart skip a beat.
Donna Elvira is tormented and slightly unhinged, allowing touches of bluster into her coloratura, whereas Zerlina is all sweetness and innocence, demonstrating plenty of agility in the closing phrases of ‘Batti, batti’, which is taken at a sprightly pace. High notes are coloured imaginatively. Fiordiligi’s ‘Per pietà’ is earnest, verging on desperate, while there’s a stoic, impassioned quality to ‘Come scoglio’. Even Despina – who I usually find an irritant – is irresistible here, a saucy minx determined to liberate Così’s sisters. Fritsch follows this up with two superb concert arias. Perhaps I’m being greedy, but I’d have loved a souvenir of her Pamina too.
From the very first bars of the Overture to The Marriage of Figaro, with punchy ‘historically informed’ woodwinds and bristling strings, the playing of the Munich Radio Orchestra under Alessandro De Marchi instantly makes you sit up and listen. A jewel of a disc.