Not one of my favourite Cosis, but has many virtues
Cosi Fan Tutte is almost definitely one of my favourite operas, mainly because it is the most psychologically sophisticated and complex plot-wise of Mozart's operas and has some of Mozart's most beautiful music. This is a good production, but unlike the 1984, 1970, 2000, 1983, 1989, 1992 and even the Ponnelle film it is not a great one.
It certainly has its virtues. I do prefer traditional stagings, but I don't mind something new as long as it's good taste and not ugly. On the most part I found this Cosi Fan Tutte very clever, and the comedy is still funny and subtly delivered. There are moments though where it doesn't quite work, Petibon is made to do something very over-the-top even for Despina which for me was quite a shock, a couple of jokes don't quite translate well in a modern setting, and I did find it silly for Fiordiligi and Dorabella to not recognise Ferrando and Guglielmo even though they were not even disguised.
The video directing is good, some lapses, but as is always the case with Brian Large adept and fluid, with effort made to flatter the singers. The picture quality and sound are sharp and clear. The orchestral playing is stylish and lush, perfect for the most exquisite of melodies. As you'd expect with Cosi Fan Tutte and Mozart in general, when the score calls for energy the orchestra has it, when it calls for sensitivity they accompany with that in mind. The recitatives could have been plodding, but here help to move the story forward. Adam Fischer's conducting shows an understanding for the Mozartian style.
Miah Persson is a superb Fiordiligi. Her presence as it was with Glyndebourne is very charming with a beguiling appearance on stage, and her singing is bright and flexible. Isabel Leonard I don't think I have heard or seen before, or much anyway, and she is just as delightful. She blends very well with Persson, is just as agile in technique, looks wonderful(Persson does also) and is suitably susceptible in character. Their lovers are also very appealing. Topi Lehtipu does show a gift for comedy, being quite sly sometimes, and sings with honeyed tone and clear diction. Un Aura Amarosa is just lovely.
Florian Boesch does well to convey Guglielmo's character traits right from amusing and gloating to sympathetic and charming. Donna Meie is buoyant and not too forced vocally and the ensembles show sensitivity and care to blend with everyone else. Patricia Petibon occasionally over-compensates but on the whole provides a witty and gleefully enjoyable account of the scheming maid Despina. Her Il Dottore guise is a hoot and Una Donna Quindici Anni is very well-sung. Sadly of the cast I found Bo Skovhus to be the fly in the ointment(as the saying goes) as Don Alfonso.
Vocally, while he tries very hard with the style, which is a big part of Mozartian playing and singing, he sounds wobbly at times. But I didn't really like how Alfonso was portrayed, instead of the world-weary, wise and somewhat cynical Alfonso I am more familiar with, some of Skovhus' gestures look exaggerated, and overall I found him too wicked and sadistic, which for me distorted the opera's nature. I'm all for different interpretations, but for me this was too extreme. All in all, a good production with lovely singing and a good sense of comedy and mostly clever staging but for traditionalists who prefer sumptuous costumes and decor like in Ponnelle's film and the 1992 performance and a more ideal portrayal of Alfonso may want to look elsewhere. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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