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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb, old-school "Cosi" in fine early stereo sound
SOURCE:
1955 studio recording made at the Redoutensaal, Vienna.

SOUND:
This was a state-of-the-art recording at the very beginning of the stereo era. As stereo players were still few and far between in 1955, it was originally issued on Lp in two versions, mono and stereo. The old Lp mono version--in what was then called "high fidelity"--easily held...
Published on 21 Sep 2010 by L. E. Cantrell

versus
13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful singing, marred by intolerably bad diction
Without intending to add much to, or detract anything from, the extolling and expert words lavished on this set by many a reviewer, I feel obliged to point out a flaw that, though it may seem futile to a non-Italian listener, so implacably undermines, for me, whatever pleasure can be reaped (and there's indeed a lot to be reaped!) from this wonderfully performed...
Published on 12 Mar 2009 by marschallin73


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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb, old-school "Cosi" in fine early stereo sound, 21 Sep 2010
By 
L. E. Cantrell (Vancouver, British Columbia Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Mozart: Così fan tutte (Audio CD)
SOURCE:
1955 studio recording made at the Redoutensaal, Vienna.

SOUND:
This was a state-of-the-art recording at the very beginning of the stereo era. As stereo players were still few and far between in 1955, it was originally issued on Lp in two versions, mono and stereo. The old Lp mono version--in what was then called "high fidelity"--easily held its own against stereo versions of the 1960s and 70s. The digital remastering of this stereo version appears to have taken place in 1999 and, so far as I am concerned, was highly successful.

CAST:
Fiordiligi - Lisa della Casa
Dorabella - Christa Ludwig
Ferrando - Anton Dermota
Guglielmo - Erich Kunz
Don Alfonso - Paul Schoeffler
Despina - Emmy Loose

CONDCTOR:
Karl Boehm with the Wiener Philharmoniker and the Wiener Staatsopernchor.

TEXT:
This performance reflects the standard performing edition in use at the time it was recorded. Subsequent recordings have restored most cuts and frankly, in my opinion, have not been substantially enhanced by the restorations. Those of you who take a completist stance, feel free to disagree vehemently.

DOCUMENTATION:
Barebones. No libretto. Summary of the plot keyed to the track listings. A "fact file" presents odds and ends about the history of the opera. Track list with timings.

FORMAT:
Disk 1 - Act I, tracks 1-22; 74:30.
Disk 2 - Act I (continued), tracks 1-2; Act II, tracks 3-19; 68:24.

COMMENTARY:
A casual look at the catalogue suggests that Karl Boehm devoted every alternate weekend to recording yet another Mozart opera. This is the first of his recorded versions of "Cosi fan tutte." For all intents and purposes it is his forgotten Mozart opera. That is a shame because in many ways it is the best of the bunch. It so happens that a mono Lp version of this performance was the first "Cosi" that I ever heard. To this day I have never discovered a performance to match it.

The festival-quality cast is a perfect microcosm of the post-WWII golden age of the Vienna State Opera. If certain members of the brilliantly scintillating cast pronounce Italian in a sliightly Germanic way, so what? So, no doubt, did Mozart.

The wonderful pairing of Lisa della Casa and Christa Ludwig is simply not to be matched elsewhere. Their big opening duet, "Ah, guarda sorella" is perfect--just perfect.

Anton Dermota's voice is a bit heavier than those of the subsequent generation of Mozart tenors. It is not especially beautiful. He is not long of breath, so he doesn't astound us with long passages on a single gulp of air. He certainly does not add elaborate and picturesque decoration to Mozart's written vocal runs. All he does is sing the music exactly right. He is simply the best Mozart tenor ever to be recorded, that's all.

Paul Schoeffler was a great master. Here he sounds just fine as someone a generation older than the rest of the cast, smarter, too, and more than a little vicious.

Emmy Loose, now largely forgotten, was always a treat in character roles. I can't think of a better Despinetta. Ordinarily, I have no use whatsoever for Erich Kunz but here, for once, he turns in a respectable performance as Guglielmo.

Boehm was a great master of the old school. He keeps the show moving briskly and on point. The Vienna Philharmonic sounds terrific, as it certainly should in music that is at the very core of its repertory.

The date of the recording makes it clear that it long precedes any scholarly re-evaluations or piffling desires to return to period instruments and performing practices. Everybody concerned was simply attempting to serve up the very best "Cosi fan tutte" of which they were capable. And succeeding.

Grab this one while you still can!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful balanced Cosi - a joy to rediscover!, 13 Mar 2009
By 
Mr. DAVID Geer "Korngold Fan" (Sydney Australia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Mozart: Così fan tutte (Audio CD)
For years I had the excerpts from this set on LP and though I liked it, thought Lisa Della Casa in particular too serious in sound - you know she has a deeply melancholic voice at times! However when spaced out throughout the opera her arias and weight of voice and intonation are just superb and I surprisingly thought the whole much better than the highlights - curious as usually it's the other way round. Anyway these seemingly nonsense thoughts aside its a lovely rendition and has quickly become a firm favourite.

As to dictation, as mentioned by the Italian reviewer, yes it isn't all it could be however it is very typical of the time and frankly the mispronunciations are generally easier for me to understand than the perfect Italian would be, so often Italian is sung so flowingly you can't pick individual words and is far from the Italian as spoken on the streets of modern day Italy. It doesn't trouble me but ...I am sure it would Italians...

I think you can afford this set as well as a modern one though frankly none has come my way to recommend and since it is so often performed these days I haven't sort one out.

Overall I think this a delightfully balanced Cosi and it was a joy for me to rediscover how good it was - 1955 Decca stereo has quite legendary recoding quality and thank god the orchestra is modest and does not attempt to drown the singers not that it could these quality and when needed large voices.

Whist it is Lisa Della Casa's opera her support is only just the merest notch behind and as seemed to be the case back in the 1950's ensemble work was common as these singers really did sing together and her duets show how good she and her colleagues were at blending their voices, and playing the roles as if on stage! Enough buy it .....
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful vintage recording, 26 April 2006
By 
G. P. Rogers (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mozart: Così fan tutte (Audio CD)
This is a lovely vintage recording, arguably superior to Bohm's later account on EMI. The singing is beautiful, and the orchestra superb. Bohm's reading is measured but well-paced.

Contrary to the misinformation given in the first review on this page, this Decca recording was made in 1955 (NOT 1951).

The recording is one of the very first to be made in stereo. The sound is not up to modern standards, but is far ahead of other recordings made at the time. The orchestral strings sound rather thin at times, and the singers appear to be very closely mic-ed, but the wonderful performances far outweigh any shortcomings of the recording.

There are a number of small cuts to the score (hence the fact that the opera fits onto only 2 CDs), but otherwise it is performed complete. Its bargain nature makes this recording well worth having as an additional version even if you already own a copy of Cosi. Overall this is one of the best recordings available of this opera.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally a truly joyful Cosi, 28 April 2010
By 
Erik Aleksander Moe "riddion" (Oslo, Norway) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mozart: Così fan tutte (Audio CD)
Until I discovered this wonderful recording I have thought that the opera was a little boring (including Bohm's later recording with Schwarzkopf), even though the music was wonderful. This recording truly made me love the opera as much as Don Giovanni and Le nozze di Figaro. Bohm's handling of the score is like nothing before or since. Della Casa, Ludwig, Dermota, Kunz, Schoffler and Loose were so good, despite some not too good diction here and there. All of them worked together so well to make this recording a wonderful experience. Bohm and the solists also made the comedic moments work. The two grand finales too were such joys to behold I couldn't believe what I was hearing. It was two times 20 minutes of pure joy. Everything else was equally joyful.
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34 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most graceful and delightful interpretation, 30 Dec 2001
This review is from: Mozart: Così fan tutte (Audio CD)
It is one of the most underrated recordings in recording history. This exceeds Bohm's EMI 'Cosi Fan Tutte' in the aspects of singing ensemble
and orchestration (Vienna Phil is great here!).
My personal favourite all the time.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent Mozart opera bargain, 17 Jun 2013
By 
John HOLLAS (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mozart: Così Fan Tutte (MP3 Download)
One of the very best performances and recording of Cosi Fan Tutte with Bohm conductng the Vienna Philharmonic and a superb set of soloists. A fantastic bargain. I first encountered Cosi on DVD (Gardiner) but found the plot to be rather unpleasant in spite of a very good performance. On CD (without subtitles!) I can just enjoy the wonderful music.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very enjoyable recording made in Vienna under Bohm,, 9 April 2012
By 
This review is from: Mozart: Così fan tutte (Audio CD)
Recorded in Vienna by Decca in 1955, this performance under the direction of Karl Bohm is very enjoyable. All the principal singers are excellent and there is no weakness; they include Lisa della Casa (Fiordigili), Christa Ludwig (Dorabella), Anton Dermota (Ferrando), Erich Kunz (Guglielmo) and Paul Schoeffler (Don Alfonso). They were then all principal singers at the Vienna State Opera, and their performance sounds spontaneous. Lisa della Casa, in particular, is fresh- and sweet-toned. The orchestral support by the Vienna Philharmonic is sensitively done.

Bohm made another recording in 1962, this time for EMI, with Schwarzkopf (Fiordiligi) and Ludwig (Dorabella), among others. This version is also very good and is still often recommended by record guides, although Schwarzkopf sounds a little mature. I feel the role of Fiordigili suits della Casa better than Schwarzkopf in terms of the voice timbre.

The only snag in the Decca version is that various minor cuts to passages were made, which may not to be every listener's taste. There is no full translation of the texts, but cueing of the action is very useful in locating particular scenes.

Decca's early stereo recording, digitally remastered, is very good indeed; the sound has clarity and depth. All in all, this remains my favourite audio recording of the comic opera.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite singing and mid-fifties stereo as fresh as Springtime, 26 Mar 2011
By 
Philoctetes (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mozart: Così fan tutte (Audio CD)
I have a kind of on-off relationship with Mozart. A period of burgeoning interest and excitement, then a feeling that everyone after him was ten times more exciting, and then much later a refreshed delight in the lightness and symmetry of Mozart's imagination.

This Cosi passed through my collection many years ago, but I could never quite shake the memory of the gorgeous singing and bold Decca stereo, so now I welcome it back and recommend it to you, especially if you are new to Cosi. Decca's series with the 'Unique listening guide' are just the right side of patronising, presumably intended for newcomers and those uninterested in reading along with the libretto.

Once again, Karl Bohm - in my experience so ordinary in concert repertoire - proves himself a god among opera conductors. His surety of pacing, honed after decades of experience in the provincial and major opera houses of Europe, allied with his ability to get the very best out of singers (sometimes as a result of cruelty, it s said) mean that he is to opera recordings what Karajan is to symphonies: generally a good bet and often considerably more than that.

N.B. This is a cut performance (hence two discs) and for anyone wanting a fuller recording, the later EMI/Bohm set is the one to go for.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mozart Cosi fan tutte, 25 May 2012
By 
Mr. D. K. Martin (Ashford, Kent, UK.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mozart: Così fan tutte (Audio CD)
Excellent performance dating from 1950s."Includes Unique Listening Guide" states a sticker on the front cover.I do not normally follow a detailed synopsis of an opera "plot", preferring to listen to the music...but this one is hilarious and is worth it for this alone.The author is an ex-pupil of mine,Warwick Thompson, of west London. Well done,Warwick!
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful singing, marred by intolerably bad diction, 12 Mar 2009
By 
This review is from: Mozart: Così fan tutte (Audio CD)
Without intending to add much to, or detract anything from, the extolling and expert words lavished on this set by many a reviewer, I feel obliged to point out a flaw that, though it may seem futile to a non-Italian listener, so implacably undermines, for me, whatever pleasure can be reaped (and there's indeed a lot to be reaped!) from this wonderfully performed Così: the singers' Italian is atrocious. Relentlessly, grotesquely so.

Examples are legion. "Questo" and "quello" become, invariably, "QVesto" and "QVello", "Fiordiligi" becomes "FiordiliCI", "voi" becomes "foi", and so on. In sum: think of the most typical and natural Teutonic mispronunciations of Italian, which you'd imagine an elementary Italian class should address and remedy within the first weeks, and you'll find them all in spades in this production, spouted off with cartoonish relish and sovereign insouciance (Don Alfonso being the most inveterate offender).

Now, in light of the good to excellent diction of nearly all modern and contemporary non-Italian singers (I'm thinking of Ramey, Allen, and even German ones like Bär, Streit, etc...), I find this shortcoming extremely puzzling, and wonder: Was it a common oversight for the time? Was it a German thing? Perhaps Böhm didn't consider languages other than German worth articulating with any accuracy (and I won't proceed down the road of Böhm's infamous Aryan pride, although there might be a point in there somewhere.)

I have absolutely no qualms with a German or Viennese-inflected Così, or any other Mozart-Da Ponte opera for that matter (the man himself was Austrian, of course, although I doubt he would have enlisted German singers to sing his Italian works), and I think there is much to be gained from any approach, if it yields, as it does in this case, so much glorious singing and conducting. And, again, I acknowledge that, to a non-Italian, my criticism might sound like pointless caviling. They are certainly free to disregard this review. The massacre perpetrated on the Italian language by nearly all involved (Della Casa is fine, for obvious reasons) makes it certainly impossible for me, an Italian listener, to derive any real pleasure from this set.
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Mozart: Così Fan Tutte
Mozart: Così Fan Tutte by Karl Böhm, Erich Kunz, Lisa Della Casa, Christa Ludwig, Anton Dermota Vienna Philharmonic Opera Chorus and Orchestra
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