Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Mozart - Cosi fan Tutte / Wall Garanca Bonney Degout Mathey Raimondi Harding |
Actors: Ruggero Raimondi, Elina Garanca, Shawn Mathey, Erin Wall, Stephaen Degout
Directors: Patrice Chéreau, Stephane Metge
Genres: Comedy, Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
Chereau at his best--gripping and moving
C. Harbison | Montague, MA United States | 10/31/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The singers are all good, the orchestra light, lively and evocative. But it is above all Patrice Chereau's direction that makes this production one of the best filmed opera experiences I have had. This is a fairly long opera (about 3 hours), but it flies by in this version with rapid and telling movement on stage and in the pit, and with a constantly moving camera. Chereau's is an expectedly dark interpretation, both modern and classical, that refuses to play up the buffo elements and achieves a remarkably heart-rending, bittersweet effect. The singers are all well-coached actors; we are never allowed to forget that we are watching a performance (occasional views of the conductor in the pit) but that doesn't mar the emotional impact of one of Mozart's most touching scores. Period costumes on what is made to seem to be a bare, ancient Italian stage."
Running Thirds Have Hardly Ever Been More Wonderful
Brett Hanisko | Cedarburg, WI | 08/26/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Not everything here deserves five stars (more on that later), but the amazing vocal offerings here keep me from rating it any lower. The best elements are Erin Wall and Elina Garanca who sound absolutely marvelous together; also, their respective arias are definite highlights. Erin Wall's soprano is silvery and shimmering--powerful at the top and surprisingly audible below the staff; the middle voice is smooth yet textured. Also, every syllable is colored with emotion. As did most of the cast, she got better dramatically and vocally as the night proceeded, but "Come scoglio" is by no means a disappointment, though her "Per pietà" is better. I wish I could make it down to the Lyric Opera of Chicago this season to see her Fiordiligi there. Elina Garanca is never any less than fabulous as Dorabella. The voice is large and opulent but high-reaching and agile; she is dramatically captivating at every moment and never drains the tension. Barbara Bonney sounds kind of odd to me below her thrilling high register, but she continuously acts as saucy as Despina should, borrowing (never stealing) the show when necessary. Of all the cast, she ornamented the most, but Mozart is supposed to be ornamented. She made it work. Tenor Shawn Mathey wasn't intensely engaging as Ferrando, but he was no less enjoyable, making "Un aura amorosa" a high point. Stéphane Degout inhabited Guglielmo and managed to make "Donne mie, la fate a tanti" more exciting than boring, though I suspect conductor Daniel Harding had a literal hand in this--he kept Mozart's score vibrant and dynamic as it should be (however, the cast occasionally fought him for tempi, though it can be tough to coordinate orchestra and singers in an outdoor theater; also, some delicious cadences are glossed over). Some people seemed to like him, but I couldn't stand Raimondi's Alfonso here. His physical mannerisms--hands flailing at the sides, wide eyes, spread mouth--grated and too much flatness pitchwise proved obnoxious, though, fortunately, he managed not to mar the transcendent "Soave sia il vento." Plus, most of his music isn't that beautifully written, so no huge loss if his voice isn't as fresh as it used to be--he plays an old character, after all. As for the direction, some of it really worked and allowed for opera to be sexy (and not crude, either), while some of it was hopelessly abstract and / or anachronistic if not saliently so. Also, I get the impression that not all his demands were not the most vocally compatible, yet the cast, as a whole, coped and sounded beautifully. The relatively young age of the four lovers probably helped in this department. One more item: The recorded sound seems pretty true to the voices and orchestra, but the instruments are more closely miked (due to the theatre layout) and occasionally overwhelm the singers. All in all, I highly recommend this DVD for its musical and textual accomplishments."
A serious Cosi that works and a Dorabella who steals the sho
Toni Bernhard | Davis, CA United States | 03/20/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is not your usual opera buffa production of Cosi Fan Tutte. The director explains his vision of the production in the DVD notes: "Why shouldn't Cosi be something other than bubbly and light-hearted? And why shouldn't one take seriously everything that Mozart and Da Ponte wrote? For Cosi deals with complex issues, speaking to us of the all-pervasiveness of desire, showing us that one can have love for more than one person at a time and that there is infinite sorrow in discovering this, and some little sweetness in accepting it, and furthermore that Alfonso knew all this, and that he had a natural vocation to torture those unhappy souls who did not know it..." I've seen other productions that focus on the dark side of this opera (e.g. the Zurich Opera production from 2000 with Cecilia Bartoli), but this is the first one that works for me because, although the production is serious in tone, it's not cynical. The final scene will touch your heart, as the disillusioned and bewildered players wander aimlessly around the stage during the final chorus, only to take refuge in each others' arms.
The highlight of the production is Elina Garanca as Dorabella. She possesses a rich mezzo voice of great flexibility and deep beauty. In a word, it's luscious. Because Dorabella is a true mezzo here (so often not the case in casting Cosi), her duets with Fiordiligi make for the most sublime harmonies. Their mezzo and soprano voices contrast and blend beautifully. Even the recitative between them is more musical than "dry." As Fiordiligi, Erin Wall has a expressive and smooth soprano voice, but she suffers in comparison to Garanca both in singing and in acting. I found myself wishing that Mozart had composed two arias for Dorabella that were as challenging and stunning as those he gave to Fiordiligi (but such is still the reward in the opera world for being a soprano). Whether it was due to the strength of Elina Garanca's performance or whether it was part of the director's vision, this Dorabella is not Fiordiligi's usual silly sister. In this production, Dorabella is the more sophisticated and assured of the two sisters; she's just also more driven by desire, so she "falls" first. It's a different take on the sisters' relationship, but it works.
I greatly enjoyed Ruggero Raimondi as Don Alfonso. Like many who find themselves cast in this role, he's past his prime as a lead (he was once a fine Don Giovanni) but, unlike many others in this role, Raimondi's voice is still robust and expressive. The other performers are very good; they just can't compete with Garanca's Dorabella. (You can hear her voice above the others in the ensemble pieces, not because it's too loud, but because it's of such high quality.)
Unfortunately, there are times when the pace is off in the ensemble pieces. (Perhaps it's because the production takes place outdoors and the performers can't always hear the orchestra well enough.) The result is that some of the ensemble pieces (so vital to this opera) sound a bit ragged and don't build in intensity the way they should.
All in all, this DVD is definitely worth owning, although my favorite Cosi remains the 1992 Theatre du Chatelet production conducted by John Eliot Gardiner. That production succeeds in finding the right balance between the serious and the comic side of Cosi, while never forgetting that the focus should be on its heavenly music."
P. Sutherland | Berea, Ohio, USA | 09/16/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Vietato fumare! That means, "No smoking." What's that got to do with Cosi Fan Tutte? you ask. It's featured in prominent letters on the back wall of the set. Along with telephones and fire extinguishers that nobody bothered to cover in this period rendition of Cosi Fan Tutte. We can thank Richard Peduzzi for the sets. What sets??? Where is the scenery? Sheesh!!! I think this is an insult. Along the lines of "Too many notes..." I wonder if the people in the audience got a discount on their tickets to compensate for the missing essential element. A minimal set would have been okay. This was no set at all!!!
I found this very distracting. I've seen many Cosi's and so I knew there was a boat and a sea and a garden and rooms, etc., but what if you were seeing this for the first time?
Fortunately, Mozart's music is beautiful in any setting and the singers in this production were all good. I particularly liked Erin Wall as Fiordiligi and Shawn Mathey as Ferrando. Barbara Bonney as Despina seems an odd choice. She sang it well enough but she didn't make me laugh. Actually, nothing about this opera made me laugh, including the usually funny, slapstick poisoning scene.
This production is okay for the music and singing but I already have a good Cosi cd. I will probably never watch it again, so I can't recommend it to anyone else. There are two super Cosi's available if you need a suggestion: The Gardiner Chatelet production with Amanda Roocroft and Rodney Gilfry and the Hytner Glyndebourne Cosi with Luca Pisaroni, Topi Lehtipuu, Miah Persson, etal. They both offer the complete spectacle of opera: music, singing, acting, scenery, direction. And you can smoke if you like.