12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Wonderful singing, marred by intolerably bad diction,
This review is from: Mozart: Cosė 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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Initial post: 30 Apr 2013 19:53:14 BDT
A Pedant says:
A very valid point of view, particularly given you are a native Italian speaker. "This", though is (was) Vienna and as you are aware that could equally well mean peculiar German, let alone Italian pronounciation ... and if Lisa della Casa is singing I can forgive a lot of 'Kvees' and so forth for that gorgeous, uninterrupted tone.
I'm also diverted by the thought of how Mozart's own singers would have formed the words: some of them were of course native Italians themselves, but others German and even English speakers. I suspect that his performances could have been a bit polyglot? - not that you necessarily want that for repeated listening! Kind regards.
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