In 1988 when this period-instrument Figaro was released, the style was still a novelty, and Ostman gained some notoreity for his rushed tempos as well as the scrawniness of his chamber orchestra, by far the smallest to play this great opera on CD. Yet this is true gem in the extensive Figaro catalog.
It still possesses the two most charming and lovable leads one can imagine, the Susanna of Barbara Bonney, who has no peer on records for wit and inner life, and her Figaro, the unknown but ardently appealing Petteri Salomaa. The Count of Hakan Hagegard is good and although Arleen Auger is passive as the Countess, her voice is meltingly lovely.
What drives this performance is its dramatic spontaneity. The comedy is actually funny (as opposed to the forced business that one usually hears in Figaro) thanks to the stage experience the cast gained in a production at Stockholm's famed jewel of a court theater, the Drottningholm. The intimacy of a period produciton gives everything an intimate feeling and thus brings out Mozart's subtle shadings of wit, pathos, humane tolerance, and above all his devotion to love's saving grace.