Cosi Fan Tutte is my fourth favourite Mozart opera after Le Nozze Di Figaro, Don Giovanni and Die Zauberflote, though Idomeneo is also not close behind. The comedy when done right sparkles, the story is psychologically complex and the music especially the trio Soave Sia Il Vento is sublime. This 2000 production and the 1989 production with Dessi, Scarabelli and Ziegler are my favourites, though the 1992 production with Roocroft and Gilfry is a must watch too as well as the Ponnelle film.
I found this Cosi to be one of the more authentic productions visually and musically. The whole production is beautifully filmed, and the costumes and sets are atmospheric and rich in colour. I loved the venue too, it is small, but this helps with the opera's intimacy I feel. The orchestra are superb, with their playing full of style and beauty, and Nikolaus Harnencourt's conducting is not just dynamic and authoritative but also refined with depth to it. His tempos are brisk while seldom being too erratic to ruin the mood of the beautiful ensembles, Il Core Vi Dono and Soave Sia Il Vento are just heaven.
The production just flies by, with the comedy sparkling as it should do and the characters charming. The performances are outstanding; when I heard that Cecilia Bartoli was singing Fiordiligi I wondered to myself wouldn't Bartoli be more suited to Dorabella voice-register wise, or maybe even Despina? After seeing her here, my doubts quickly subsided, I like Bartoli very much and thought she was superb here. She is a very committed actress exuding charm and her singing is husky yet expressive with plenty of warmth and agility, especially in Per Pieta, Ben Mio, Perdona.
Liliana Nikiteanu matches her perfectly as Dorabella, her voice blends beautifully with the rest of the cast and her acting looks so natural that you warm to her immediately. Her Il Core Vi Dono with Widmer is wonderful. Agnes Baltsa of the cast probably comes off the least effectively as Despina, and it's not to do with that she sings or acts badly, actually her singing is musical and unforced and her acting appropriately scheming and charming, it's just that some people including myself may find that she is not the ideal picture of the Despina you usually hear and see(the young servant maid).
Roberto Sacca to me has never been better than he has been here. He has a lovely voice that was much more refined than his later performance in 2002's Il Barbiere Di Siviglia as Almaviva, has a handsome presence and also a sense of comic timing. While his Un Aura Amarosa is heart-melting, he is at his best in Tradito, Schernito Dal Perfido Cor and the quintet Di Scrivermi Ogni Giorno. Oliver Widmer is witty and a lot of fun as Guglielmo, with a sympathetic tone to his voice and a natural charisma about him. He is excellent in the ensembles, as well as in the at first sympathetic then gloating Donna Meie, La Fate a Tanti.
Other than Bartoli, I thought the standout of this Cosi was the Alfonso of this Cosi, Carlos Chausson. I know from his performance of Bartolo in Il Barbiere Di Siviglia that Chausson is an excellent singing-actor, and here is no exception. His singing is gorgeous, and he always takes care to enunciate. I just love his interpretation too, while sticking true to the idea that Alfonso is world-weary and cynical Chausson also makes him very memorable and likable.
All in all, one of my personal favourite Cosi productions and a must see for fans of the opera, Mozart or these singers. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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