This recording restores a different variety of "period performance" to the catalog. Recorded in mid-1952, the opera is performed in English (in the Martin translation) by most of the cast that gave the premiere of the Met's 1951 production. 'Cosí fan tutte' was thought to be improved most by leaving a lot of it out. Dorabella and Ferrando lose their second act arias as well as the usual omission of the little duet in act I. Aside from the absence of vocal embellishment and the sheer weight of the forces used, the performance is surprisingly close to historically informed performance practice. Tempos are fleet, the recitatives--albeit much abridged--are accompanied by a piano, and the tone is conversational. The four loversRead more were cast with big voices that today would be associated with Verdi. Of the women, Eleanor Steber's weighty and beautifully sung Fiordiligi and, in contrast, the quite young Roberta Peters' very pert Despina are the standouts. Richard Tucker as Ferrando is the best of the men, very funny and surprisingly fluent, deploying his golden tone in a role unexpected in light of his fame as a Verdi singer. An interesting window on the history of Mozart performance.
Here is a resurrection of the 1952 Met Opera production of Così, greatly admired in some quarters, mainly, I suspect, for the charm of the English translation by Ruth and Thomas Martin of the da Ponte libretto. As a performance sung in the vernacular it is unique and thus not competitive with other historical versions. Certainly it lacks the stylishness of the 1935 Glyndebourne recording led by Fritz Busch, and it does not offer the elegance and vocal artistry in Karajan's 1954 account.
Taken on its own terms, however, it should more than merely satisfy those who want the opera in English. The translation, to be sure, does not always lie well on the music, but it complements the wit of the work. And Stiedry's generally apt pacing, if not always attuned to the most sensuous moments, is sufficiently adequate, as is the uneven cast, to convey the many miracles of what is, arguably, one of the musical theater's most profound insights into human frailty and sexuality.
Typical of Sony's Masterworks Heritage series, this set reflects a sharp eye for phonographic history with its reproductions of the original album cover and LP labels. An added virtue is superb remastering, tape hiss virtually being eliminated without compromising timbre, and ample presence conveying an intimacy that complements the aesthetic intimacy of the work itself. Not for all tastes, perhaps, this reissue is still most welcome.
Così fan tutte, K 588by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Performer:
Blanche Thebom (Mezzo Soprano),
Eleanor Steber (Soprano),
Roberta Peters (Soprano),
Josef Blatt (Keyboard),
Richard Tucker (Tenor),
Frank Guarrera (Baritone),
Lorenzo Alvary (Bass)
Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Period: Classical Written: 1790; Vienna, Austria Date of Recording: 06/1952 Venue: 30th Street Studios, New York City Length: 143 Minutes 30 Secs. Language: English
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
A fun and different souvenirJanuary 31, 2015By Alec R. (BETHESDA, MD)See All My Reviews"I very much enjoy listening to this recording from the "old Met," when singers of Richard Tucker's status were part of the house company. The English translation works even while producing some funny moments of their own. For those who love the work but don't speak Italian, hearing it in English gives a deeper appreciation of the more modern digital recordings. This isn't a first or even a second recommendation, but its really a very nice addition to the collection of anyone who loves this opera for many reasons."Report Abuse