Whenever I hear or watch Cosi Fan Tutte I feel as though I'm in heaven. As well as it being Mozart's most psychologically complex opera, it also boasts some of his most sublime music, especially Soave Sia Il Vento and Il Core Vi Dono. This 1996 Cosi is not quite my favourite, I do prefer the 1970, 1984, 1989, 1992 and 2006 productions and have a soft spot for Ponnelle's film too. However it is truly lovely, if there was one thing I would have liked done better it was the role of Despina. Monica Bacelli is an expressive actress and is suitably scheming in this role, but I would have preferred her voice to have been lighter and more flexible. Everyone else though is just wonderful. Barbara Frittoli gives one of my favourite performances of hers as Fiordiligi, she is charming and involved and sings with beautiful tone and her trademark musicality, like with her Suor Angelica.
Angelika Kirchschlager I have always found a versatile artist, succeeding as well in Handel, Rossini and Mozart as she does in heavier repertoire like Puccini and Strauss. Here she sings Dorabella, and blends wonderfully with Frittoli as well as singing with her usual firm, beautiful mezzo. The men are also just as effective. Michael Schade is a very appealing Ferrando, with a honeyed tone ideal for Un Aura Amarosa and good comic timing and chemistry with Bo Skovhus, while Skovhus gives his best Mozartian performance here as Guglielmo-much more so than his decent Count Almaviva and overdone Alfonso- he is witty, funny, sympathetic and gloating in equal measure and his Donna Meie... and Il Core Vi Dono(with Kirschlager) show him in fine voice. The production also boasts the talents of the ever reliable Alessandro Corbelli, not at his very best(I adore his Dandini in the Ponnelle La Cenerentola) but still suitably world-weary and cynical and his voice showing his usual sense of character.
Visually, the production is traditional and looks splendid, the decor is really beautiful and the costumes are truly luxurious especially for Fiordiligi and Dorabella. The picture quality is sharp and the video directing from Brian Large adept and unobtrusive. The staging is witty and imaginative, without it ever being dull or distasteful. Even better are the orchestral playing, showing a great sense of style and vigour needed for Donna Meie, the two finales and Una Donna Di Quindici Anni and sensitivity for Soave Sia Il Vento, Il Core Vi Dono and especially the recitatives which can either add to the characterisation and move the story forward or plod(thankfully for this production it's the former). Riccardo Muti's conducting is also really impressive, showing a firm hand without being too intense and also attention to dynamics and phrasing. The sound is fine.
Overall, a really lovely Cosi Fan Tutte with a great cast and beautiful production values. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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