Gramophone's Top Choice: Mackerras's Mozart
Find out why Gramophone named Sir Charles Mackerras's recording of Symphony No. 40 as its top choice
An overture and aria CD is a simple but clever idea. How did it come about?
That was all Christian Baldini and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. It was already a project before I was on board.
But I wanted to record arias that I had done the full roles of before, so those were the top priorities, and then there were things that were just wonderful arias, Iike Servilia's 'Per pietà' from La clemenza di Tito. The overtures are small portraits of the entire operas; they are like lockets containing miniatures of Mozart. Did he ever write a duffer? I'm not sure. He's not like Beethoven in that sense, though they are both gods. When I first heard the Eroica I went crazy about Beethoven's symphonies. Sadly songs weren't his forte, although Fidelio is one of the finest operas.
What qualities make a good Mozart singer?
You always have to sing with a great technique, reproduce the Classical style in a truthful way, and bring through the characters. Mozart writes characters brilliantly. Sometimes you have to do even more in a recording session as you haven't got the visuals. You have to really go for it. All the characters on this disc are fascinating. I've done Susanna a lot: I never tire of Figaro. And I find the same with Fiordiligi and Zerlina. I've never sung Ilia on stage, which I would love to do. And I'm singing my first Countess in February with Welsh National Opera, which is moving on to a bigger role, so we'll see how that progresses.
Read the rest of this interview in the September issue of BBC Music Magazine!