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Mozart - Cosi fan tutte [Box set]

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Audio CD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Price: 19.30 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Mozart - Cosi fan tutte + Mozart - The Marriage of Figaro [Opera in English]
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Product details

  • Performer: Sir Thomas Allen, Christopher Maltman, Diana Montague, Lesley Garrett, Toby Spence
  • Orchestra: Janice Watson, Orchestre of the Age of Enlightenment
  • Conductor: Sir Charles Mackerras
  • Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Audio CD (31 Mar 2008)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: Chandos
  • ASIN: B0015D20HC
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 202,380 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Cosi Fan Tutte - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Product Description

CD Description

Così fan tutte is Mozart s third opera to a Da Ponte libretto. It is in opera buffa style and has only six characters, two couples and an elderly philosopher and a trusted maid. In this recording Lesley Garrett sings the part of the maid, Despina, and the celebrated veteran Sir Thomas Allen the philosopher, Don Alfonso. Despite the somewhat cynical storyline this opera contains some of Mozart s most memorable and sublime music.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Competitive 'Così' in English 24 May 2008
By J Scott Morrison HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD
There is no more eminent Mozartean these days than Sir Charles Mackerras, the 88-year-old Australian conductor. He has recorded 'Così fan tutte' before but this time around there are two major differences: it is sung in English and the pit band is the original-instruments Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Some people object these days to singing an opera in any but its original language, but I'm not one of those. Think of opera sung in English as the noble forebear of today's supertitles; and of course one can't have supertitles in an audio recording. The singers in this performance do a pretty good job of making the sung words understandable. Particularly outstanding in this regard is Sir Thomas Allen as Don Alfonso, and what he does with da Ponte's (or should I say John Cox's clever updating of Marmaduke Browne's English) words is a marvel of both diction and acting. For those moments when the words can't be quite made out, Chandos does, thankfully, supply a complete English libretto. As for the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, they are among the very best original-instrument ensembles of the day and they give Mackerras the kind of joyous sound he must surely have wanted. One notes that he allowed principal instrumentalists to add their own ornaments and these are generally delightful.

As for the main characters, all but one are simply magnificent, very nearly the equal of principal singers I've ever heard on earlier recordings. But there is one exception: Lesley Garrett, as Despina, is not in complete control of her vocal apparatus and there is some degree of threadiness and straining, as well as some over-the-top hamminess in her vocal acting. The two main women, Janice Watson as Fiordiligi and Diana Montague as Dorabella, are all one could ask.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mozart in English 7 Aug 2014
By M. Joyce TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Audio CD
Mozart's operas somehow work better in English translation than works by other composers; there is a strange tendency for even the most dramatic of composers, such as Verdi, to end up sounding like Gilbert and Sullivan. An advantage of this recording is the excellent diction of the cast, notably Leslie Garrett and Thomas Allen, both equally adept at singing words as well as notes. The venerable translation by the Rev. Marmaduke Browne (albeit in an adaptation for the stage by John Cox) proves to be eminently singable and the recorded sound is very clear, if unnaturally reverberant to my ears.

This is, make no mistake, a very fine "Cosi" (as the work is rather fancifully entitled on the CD cover), but, let's be honest, it's not going to be your first choice version of the work, as the best recordings are in the original Italian and not subject to the cuts inflicted here; Charles Mackerras in his sleeve note tries to justify the implementation of these traditional cuts as making the recording closer to a staged performance, but it would have been good to at least include the excised arias as an appendix.

Mackerras is in my opinion the best of Mozart conductors and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment play splendidly for him. Vocal appoggiaturas and ornamentation are consistently effective and musically this is a highly recommendable version.

It boasts, of course, a splendid group of singers and is much more starrily cast than the other recordings in this series. It was recorded in 2007, by which stage three of the cast were approaching (or had already attained) veteran status.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD
At first I thought that this time they had got the ingredients right including the most fundamental one upon which the success of the whole thing depends - the translation. All too often in the past they have chosen new translations that are inferior to old ones, and worse than that, they have chosen translations with an 'up to date feel' about them; in other words they have been idiomatically too modern with phrases that stick out like sore thumbs and which are usually those intended to be witty and play to the gallery. Here there is occasionally an appropriate archaic period feel to the language that suits, what is after all, equally period music, but all too often once again as with other Chandos 'Opera In English' recordings it lapses into the contemporary and colloquial. But this time the recits are accompanied on harpsichord and not on piano as with the Figaro and Don recordings in English, and which make them sound like rehearsals.
Having played this a few times now I am becoming irritated with parts of the translation,particularly in the recits, whereas I am not irritated by some of the older translations such as the one used in the Scottish Opera recording from 1969 with Janet Baker. So once again as in all the other Mozart 'Opera In English' on Chandos a great opportunity to get it right has been missed.

Pace the previous review, I've heard plenty of hammier Despinas with all the hamminess coming across even in Italian, and of course the part of the role involving impersonating a doctor positively demands hamminess. But here what spoils it for me is the vulgarity emanating primarily from the translation.
Some of the acting in the recits is a bit embarassing, partly because of the translation (why don't the participants just change it?
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Competitive 'Così' Sung in English 24 May 2008
By J Scott Morrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
There is no more eminent Mozartean these days than Sir Charles Mackerras, the 88-year-old Australian conductor. He has recorded 'Così fan tutte' before -- Mozart - Così fan tutte / Lott McLaughlin Focile Hadley Corbelli Cachemaille Sir Charles Mackerras -- but this time around there are two major differences: it is sung in English and the pit band is the original-instruments Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Some people object these days to singing an opera in any but its original language, but I'm not one of those. Think of opera sung in English as the noble forebear of today's supertitles; and of course one can't have supertitles in an audio recording. The singers in this performance do a pretty good job of making the sung words understandable. Particularly outstanding in this regard is Sir Thomas Allen as Don Alfonso, and what he does with da Ponte's (or should I say John Cox's clever updating of Marmaduke Browne's English) words is a marvel of both diction and acting. For those moments when the words can't be quite made out, Chandos does, thankfully, supply a complete English libretto. As for the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, they are among the very best original-instrument ensembles of the day and they give Mackerras the kind of joyous sound he must surely have wanted. One notes that he allowed principal instrumentalists to add their own ornaments and these are generally delightful.

As for the main characters, all but one are simply magnificent, very nearly the equal of any of the principal singers I've ever heard on earlier recordings. But there is one exception: Lesley Garrett, as Despina, is not in complete control of her vocal apparatus and there is some degree of threadiness and straining, as well as some over-the-top hamminess in her vocal acting. The two main women, Janice Watson as Fiordiligi and Diana Montague as Dorabella, are all one could ask. I had, when I saw the cast list, some apprehensions about how these two singers would do -- they are, after all, a bit, erm, mature for their roles -- but I needn't have worried. Both are in fresh, supple voice and the blending of their voices is a joy to behold. The two men, Toby Spence as Ferrando and Christopher Maltman as Guglielmo, are equally good as the ladies' tender lovers and as the fake Albanian soldiers, Leander and Philander. The recorded sound on this set is just slightly reverberant to my ear but one has no difficulty picking out individual strands of the musical texture or the words of the singers.

So who is this recording for? Well, I suppose for those who have one or more recordings of the original language version, this set is superfluous. But for those coming to 'Così' for the first time, this one could very well be the best possible introduction to this witty opera the understanding of whose repartée is such a necessary part of its impact. And for those who collect Così recordings, this one should not be passed by. I should point out that at the time of this review Amazon is only charging about $26 for this three-CD set, quite a bargain for a new recording. Chandos has not skimped on the presentation, either. There are a fine essay about the opera by Mike Ashman, an interview with Mackerras and a helpful synopsis, as well as the full English libretto.

Scott Morrison
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Making a good case for 'Cosi' in English 8 Sep 2008
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
It's hard to follow up Scott Morrison's perceptive review of this new 'Cosi fan tutte' in English. My reaction on several fronts, however, isn't as enthusiastic. I agree that Thomas Allen is the very model of a smiling, knowing Don Alfonso, but I'd also add that Lesley Garrett's Despina is almost as good in recitatives, which makes the sly chicancry between them the wittiest thing about this performance. The four young lovers sing quite well, but they aren't funny or, for that matter, very alluring. Toby Spence has a hard edge to his tenor and effortful legato, which works against Mozart's melting melodic lines. The two women sound rather alike, but that's no matter. Fiordiligi's murderously difficult aria, 'Come scoglio (here translated as "Like a fortress"), is negotiated too carefully by Janice Watson, but she makes it through with conviction surpassing sheer vocal talent.

As for Mackerras, he takes the whimsical overture in a punchy fashion with sharp thwacks on the timpani at the climax -- not my favorite way with this bubbling, humane, relaxed, and civilized score, but he is dramatically effetive, and the period orchestra plays expertly (admittedly, I'd rather hear more vibrato, rubato, and expressivity). Mr. Morrison rates Mackerras as ann eminent Mozartean, but I'd lower him to a skillful professional, and that holds true here: I wish I were more moved. I generally go out of my way to avoid Mackerras anywehere but in Janacek operas, but even a non-fan like me must concede that he shapes Cosi from scene to scene very well.

As for the translation, the original, an 1890 version by the Rev. Marmaduke Browne (why aren't we naming baby boys like that anymore?), is decidedly prim. John Cox has added modern quips, some in bad taste (would even the cynical Da Ponte praise his two soldiers as 'well endowed'?), the overall result being rather hybrid. But the rhymed couplets manage not to sound like Gilbert and Sullivan too often -- always the trap when yoou try to English a verse libretto -- and there are genuine smiles when Allen and Garrett take center stage.

In all, I came up wth four stars, just like Mr. Morrison, and believe that any Mozart lover will have a good time with this bargain-priced set.
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