Renowned for his work in Baroque vocal music, René Jacobs is most frequently credited as a countertenor and as a choral director. He is somewhat less familiar as a conductor of Classical symphonic music, though he has increasingly delved into this repertoire in recordings with one of Europe's best early music groups, the Freiburger Barockorchester.
…The greatest pleasure of this sonically vivid recording is the splendid orchestral playing, from the taut brilliance of the overture to the delicate tracery of the strings in the final chorus. Jacobs is more than a musicologist/provacateur, he’s a conductor whose charisma comes across in recordings—just listen to the overtures to any of his Mozart operas or his “Jupiter’ Symphony…
After the success of Così fan tutte and The Marriage of Figaro, René Jacobs' CD recording of this centrepiece of the Mozart/Da Ponte trilogy offered us his reflections on Classical opera and garnered serious acclaim worldwide. Performed at the Innsbruck festival in August 2006 and filmed in Baden-Baden, this production is nourished by his thoughts on Don Giovanni as taboo-breaker but still respects Mozart's intentions as closely as possible.
In the documentary Looking for Don Giovanni, the director Nayo Titzin follows the creation of this production in the search for musical truth.
Too much ink has been spilt on this Clemenza di Tito supposedly composed in 18 days and which, so it is said, was conspicuously out of step with the times in 1791 . . . The interpretation offered here by René Jacobs is nothing short of revolutionary. Not only does it rehabilitate the original score in its entirety, notably the recitatives: it also restores the powerfully classical inspiration so essential to opera seria. In the final years of the Enlightenment, this was still the favoured genre of the educated man, and it is sheer delight to hear the language of Metastasio beginning to sing once more. As if magic, La clemenza suddenly springs to new and exciting life.
The most famous of Mozart’s has also been the most controversial not in his lifetime, but in the 20th century! Many commentators of that period saw it only as the final metamorphosis of an outdated genre, whereas, on the contrary, the young Mozart threw himself into the work with true creative fury. But that injustice has now been overcome, as is demonstrated here: after a series of distinguished Mozart operatic recordings, notably , René Jacobs has shown he has all the requisite vigour to perform this dazzling composition, given here in the absolutely complete text Mozart intended for its premiere in Munich on 29 January 1781.
If there is one thing that marks out René Jacobs’s approach to Mozart, it is the way he constantly asks himself questions – and the specifically musical brilliance of the answers he comes up with. The success of his recent version of La clemenza di Tito is proof of that! After Così fan tutte and Le nozze di Figaro, his recording of this centrepiece of the Mozart/Da Ponte trilogy offers us the latest fruits of his reflections on Classical opera. Premiered at the 2006 Innsbruck Festival and recorded shortly afterwards, this production is nourished by his thoughts on Don Giovanni as taboo-breaker and on a ‘physiology of roles’ that respects Mozart’s intentions as nearly as possible. NB This set contains the arias of both versions created by Mozart (Prague 1787, Vienna 1788)
This groundbreaking performance seems as if it is happening in real time. At its best, and seemingly counter-intuitively, opera is at its most effective when we don’t notice that the characters are singing: such is the case here. If you know this opera, then the third of the men’s trios in scene 1 (“Una bella serenata”) will seem very fast; hearing it with fresh ears, Jacobs’ breakneck tempo seems utterly natural—these guys have been worked up into a fun/competitive frenzy and can’t wait to get started on what they think will be a grand adventure. Similarly, the little quintet before the men depart (“Di scrivermi…”) is so slow that you feel the melodrama; if they are going to play, they are going to play thoroughly, making each word and situation count.
In the famous Preface to Alceste (1767), Christoph Willibald Gluck and his librettist Ranieri de' Calzabigi posited a new direction for opera. They spoke of moving beyond Baroque forms, of striving for a new naturalism in opera. They wanted, in Calzabigi's lovely phrase, to liberate the language of the heart. Taken from the height of this Reform period, the arias on this disc reveal composers exploring and experimenting, at struggle and at play, as they create the new forms that bring to opera the noble simplicity of the Classical era.
"…More importantly, it just feels right, and that’s important for this piece where mood and atmosphere can have such an impact on the reading. I might even suggest that, next to the frenzied Jacobs and the rather serious Gardiner, this could come close to being a prime choice for a period version. " –MusicWeb International