“He was out to create something ‘unheard-of’,” observed conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt beforehand. And true to form: What the conductor had to offer as he commenced his Mozart/Da Ponte cycle in the Theater an der Wien was something we “had never before heard like this” (Kurier). Nikolaus Harnoncourt, “master” of period performance practice, realized a project that had long been one of his dearest wishes: for the first time, he and his “original-sound orchestra” Concentus Musicus and his personal choice of singers were presenting the complete Mozart/Da Ponte cycle and harvesting the fruits of his Mozart research – an “enthusiastically acclaimed cycle!” (news.at).
During an intensive phase of rehearsal and preparation, he was in search of a Mozart hermeneutic resting on historical sources and yet anchored in our own time, in order to stage the whole Da Ponte “trilogy” – Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni and Così fan tutte – in a matter of a mere six weeks. “This concentration – perceptible minute by minute – proved equally rewarding for the singers: the Concentus followed them like a silver shadow, and those singers must have felt singularly elated to have been carried along like that,” wrote Der Standard. Nikolaus Harnoncourt has once again lived up to his name as a “Mozart rebel”: “True to his reputation as a provocateur, Harnoncourt takes at a fast speed what we are accustomed to hear slow, while reining in what we expected to be lively” (Forum Opera).