Customer Review

113 of 113 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Traditional Production with a Superb Ensemble, 17 Nov 2004
This review is from: Mozart: Cosi Fan Tutte [DVD] [2010] (DVD)
I didn't have a lot of hope for this 1989 La Scala production, largely because I had assumed, mistakenly apparently, that Italians don't do Mozart very well. Granted, this is a production from La Scala and if anyone could do it one would assume that they could. Further, I had just been charmed by the Glyndebourne DVD of 'Così' from 1975, the one led by John Pritchard. Boy, was I wrong! This is one wonderful production of what many feel is Mozart's most nearly perfect opera. Riccardo Muti is in the pit and his Scala orchestra play like angels for him. The sets are beautiful (and much more so than the somewhat Pop Art-ish Glyndebourne sets). The backdrops overlook the Bay of Naples and the sky and water are blue, blue, blue. The foregrounds are fairly simple - a few columns, some tables, benches, stairs, drapes. When Ferrando and Guglielmo go off to join their military unit they are picked up by a rather nice three-masted ship that sails in from the wings and then carries them off. Costumes are also traditional, typical 17-century trappings with wigs, period-specific military uniforms for the men, lovely gowns for the women. I was amused that the hat worn by Despina when she appears as the magnetic Doctor in Act I looks like an American pilgrim hat, but I guess that's not really anachronistic.
Musically, this performance has much to recommend it. All six principal singers are wonderful, including those I'd never heard of before (Jozef Kundlak as Ferrando, Adelina Scarabelli as Despina). Daniela Dessì, who went on to sing the big Verdi roles (a recently released 'Ada' DVD is a case in point), is superb as Fiordiligi. Her 'Come scoglio' benefits from her ability to sing dramatically. Dolores Ziegler is an adorable Dorabella (sorry, I couldn't resist the alliteration). 'Smanie implacabili' and her participation in the numerous ensembles were rock-solid. Kundlak sings a melting 'Un aura amorosa' and wonderful 'Tradito, schernito.' Alessandro Corbelli, as Guglielmo, provides a baritone solidity to his ensembles and really shines in 'In core vi dono.' The two male lovers' voices blend admirably. Claudio Desderi is a reliable but somewhat stolid Don Alfonso who nonetheless drives the plot. The star of this production is Scarabelli's Despina. Without crossing over into slapstick, she is pert and knowing in the scenes as herself and funny without resorting to ugly comic voices as the Doctor and then the Notary in the final scene (well, maybe a little bit of a comic voice for the coughing Notary). When all six principals sing together or in duets or terzetti they blend beautifully. This not always the case in some productions of 'Così.' I've never actually seen or heard a bad production of the opera (and that includes one that was set, get this!, on a spaceship), at least from a musical perspective. There is something about it that brings out the best in singers. In this production the acting may be a bit generic (with the exception of Scarabelli and the two sisters), but it is more than serviceable. The ending is traditional - none of this mucking about with a switcheroo as to who marries whom.
This is, of course, a modern instruments version, and the musical presentation is also rather traditional. The tempi are well-judged, not rushed as they are sometimes these days, and the opera unfolds at a comfortable pace. In fact, 'comfortable' is a word I would use for this production. Nothing is intended to shock or titillate. It's just Mozart's opera meticulously prepared and presented. And the comedy speaks for itself.
English subtitles only. The full Italian libretto is included in the booklet. No extras. Sound: Dolby Stereo, and in contradistinction to criticisms of the VHS version, quite adequate for its time.
Recommended, particularly if a traditional production is wanted.
Scott Morrison
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Comments

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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 11 Jul 2010 12:44:09 BDT
Hi Scott - thanks for another great review! I wish you'd come back to GMG. Do you really think Cosi is more perfect than Don Giovanni?

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Jul 2010 13:08:40 BDT
I didn't say *I* thought so, but that *many* do. But depending on the mood I'm in, I'd select it over Don Giovanni. Or not. Or maybe Marriage of Figaro. What's a fella to do? :-)

Posted on 19 Jun 2011 16:47:32 BDT
Coolman says:
What a great review, erudite, intelligent and articulate.

Thank you. (I'll buy it)

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Jul 2012 14:12:00 BDT
Music maker says:
I thought this production was very boring - not much movement or comedy, and would not recommend it. I also thought that Muti appearing in scenes with singers distracting. (He also does this in the La Scala Don Giovanni - very annoying in one of the most beautiful trios ever written.)
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J Scott Morrison
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Location: Middlebury VT, USA

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