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Mozart: Cosi Fan Tutte / Lehtipuu, Pisaroni, Fischer [blu-ray]

Mozart / Fischer / Lehtipuu / Pisaroni / Rivenq
Release Date: 08/25/2009 
Label:  Opus Arte   Catalog #: 7035  
Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Miah PerssonLuca PisaroniAinhoa GarmendiaTopi Lehtipuu,   ... 
Conductor:  Iván Fischer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of the Age of EnlightenmentGlyndebourne Festival Chorus
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Blu-ray Video:  $39.99
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Ferrando - Topi Lehtipuu
Guglielmo - Luca Pisaroni
Don Alfonso - Nicolas Rivenq
Fiordiligi - Miah Persson
Dorabella - Anke Vondung
Despina - Ainhoa Garmendia

The Glyndebourne Chorus
Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
Iván Fischer, Conductor

Nicholas Hytner, Stage Director

Recorded live at the Glyndebourne Festival Opera in June and July 2006

Bonus Material:
- Insights - with Ivan Fischer, Nicholas Hytner and members of the cast
- Illustrated Synopsis and Cast Gallery

Picture format: 1080i High Definition, 16:9
Read more format: 2.0 and 5.0 True HD
Region code: 0 (All Regions)
Menu Language: English
Subtitles: English, French, German, Spanish, Italian
Running time: 210 minutes
No. of Discs: 1 (BD50)


MOZART Così fan tutte Iván Fischer, cond; Miah Persson ( Fiordiligi ); Anke Vondung ( Dorabella ); Ainhoa Garmendia ( Despina ); Topi Lehtipuu ( Ferrando ); Luca Pisaroni ( Guglielmo ); Nicolas Rivenq ( Don Alfonso ); Glyndebourne Festival Ch; O of the Age of Enlightenment (period instruments) OPUS ARTE 7035 (Blu-ray Disc: 210:00) Live: Glyndebourne 6/27 & 7/1/2006

Simply put, this widely praised Glyndebourne production is the Così we’ve been waiting for. Yes, there are plenty of alternatives. But little of the video competition has fared well on these pages. Sometimes the problems stem from the musical performance: the Pritchard-led Glyndebourne predecessor was dismissed as “largely routine” by David Kirk (29:5); the Östman was ruled out of court by Barry Brenesal, who said that the “conducting belonged to the then-new movement that found only three tempos in Mozart operas: fast, faster, fast forward” (30:4). Others were panned because of inadequate production values: Chereau’s “takes itself far too seriously,” according to Brian Robins (30:3); Bob Rose was less charitable still with Hermanns’ “simply rotten” production that, he said, “reveals the producers’ lack of understanding Mozart’s genius” (30:6). Only Muti’s Vienna production (Brenesal 32:3) and Harnoncourt’s from Zurich (Christopher Williams, 30:1) received passing grades.

So what makes this performance stand out? First, the singing of the young cast is uniformly excellent. Or perhaps not quite uniformly: as is the case with her new Susanna in Pappano’s Figaro , Miah Persson is even better than excellent, combining a gorgeous, flexible, and stunningly controlled voice (even in the most challenging coloratura passages) with her by-now familiar depth of dramatic insight. Just listen to (and watch) the solid scorn on “Come scoglio”—or, even better, the subtle variations in mood in her wrenching account of “Per pietà”—and you’ll understand why she’s my favorite Mozart soprano these days.

But the rest of the cast is nearly as good. Anke Vondung holds her own as Dorabella (certainly, a less rich part), and their voices blend extremely well. Topi Lehtipuu and Luca Pisaroni capture the emotional wobbles of the two self-deluded lovers—their ardor, their ungrounded confidence, their fury—with unerring security and luxurious tone. More than most performances, too, this one reveals a key social dynamic: the deception works in part because they’re so much sexier when their costumes allow them to abandon the constraining propriety imposed by the social conventions that normally govern their behavior. Ainhoa Garmendia is a pert, disdainful Despina who doesn’t over-camp the impersonations; and running the show tactfully is Nicholas Rivenq. An unusually attractive Don Alfonso, he’s younger and far more fit than most in this role (he looks as if he just came off the racquet-ball court), and he seems an intellectual without a trace of pedantry; you can really believe that he wants to educate these two naive friends. Iván Fischer conducts with more romantic flexibility than you often get with period-instrument orchestras—and balance (both among the singers and between stage and pit) is finely calibrated. Purely as an audio version, this would stand up to any I’ve heard.

Fortunately, Nicholas Hytner’s production is equally impressive—hardly a false step from beginning to end. In general, this staging takes the opera—arguably, Mozart’s most intellectually challenging—seriously. But the seriousness does not bring solemnity. Hytner may avoid extreme farce, but there’s plenty of wit, energy, and color throughout. More important, he doesn’t condescend to the characters: you can understand both why they’re so foolish and why they’re so torn, and the final shots (where the resolution is clearly only partial) create tremendous poignance. The sets and costumes—simple but far from austere—suggest the late 18th or early 19th century, without creating a very specific moment; and while the production doesn’t ostentatiously update the action, it stresses those aspects of character and situation that still ring true today. One point highlighted here is the bond between the sisters—indeed, one could argue that it’s really Dorabella who seduces Fiordiligi; and while there is nothing louche or tasteless in the presentation of their relationship, it’s obvious that they have a strong erotic link. Not that there’s any lack of heterosexual electricity—as a result, the final scene, where nearly every possible pairing seems highly charged, is as smoldering as any you’ll see. Yet aside from one or two moments, the sex is handled with tact: the performance is hardly prudish, but it’s never aggressive either.

The Blu-ray video quality is stunning: you can see each leaf on the salads that our heroines are eating in act I. The 5.0 channel PCM is excellent as well. And while the extras are nothing special, both the conductor and the director offer intelligent insights into the opera. Two numbers are omitted, No. 7 (the duet “Al fato dan legge”) and No. 24 (Ferrando’s “Ah, io veggio”), but that’s a minor issue. All in all, if this doesn’t make it to my next Want List, we’ve got quite a year in store for us.

FANFARE: Peter J. Rabinowitz
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Works on This Recording

Cosě fan tutte, K 588 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Miah Persson (Soprano), Luca Pisaroni (Bass Baritone), Ainhoa Garmendia (Soprano),
Topi Lehtipuu (Tenor), Anke Vondung (Mezzo Soprano), Nicolas Rivenq (Baritone)
Conductor:  Iván Fischer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment,  Glyndebourne Festival Chorus
Period: Classical 
Written: 1790; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 2006 
Venue:  Glyndebourne Festival Opera 

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