Alain Vernhes is funny as the king, and Martial Defontaine acts the Prince appropriately in all his shifting moods. Anna Shafajinskaja is rightly grotesque as Fata Morgana, while Sandrine Piau manages real innocence as Ninette, the third orange and the only one to survive.
Carlo Gozzi’s contribution to the history of opera isn’t limited to this one item. His play about the Chinese princess Turandot also provided the storyline for Puccini’s famous opera. His Useless Memoirs (1797) were translated into English by John Addington Symonds in 1890 (and can be read on Project Gutenberg, www.gutenberg.org). Goldoni’s judgement, that Gozzi was a man who had a smile on his lips but poison in his heart, is only partly borne out by this quirky, irascible book.
Mozart’s five violin concertos are mostly youthful, crowd-pleasing exercises, though the slightly later Sinfonia Concertante, a double-concerto for violin and viola, is a more substantial work. The young Hungarian violinist Barnabas Kelemen performs them all on two DVDs for the Hungaraton label as Mozart’s Complete Works for Violin and Orchestra, together with a couple of other minor items. He might even convince you of the value of the five concertos, so great is his commitment, and so seemingly unpremeditated — and persuasive — his facial expressions.
He registers astonishment, for instance, at some technical device of Mozart’s the significance of which might otherwise have escaped the unlearned. In the Sinfonia Concertante he’s joined by the less demonstrative Katalin Kokas.
These are an engagingly accessible pair of DVDs in which listeners who wish they could appreciate Mozart’s violin concertos better might find a key to their charms that’s genuinely useful.