Truly opera as living theatre
F. Behrens | Keene, NH USA | 07/20/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Mozart's has had a spotted career on video, but I believe that the ArtHaus edition (100 013) is the best of the lot if considered in the light of Opera as Theatre. For once, the dry recites are done with imagination, using something never heard in opera houses: silence. The scene in which the two sisters and their disguised wooers are seated awkwardly at a table and one of them breaks the ice with "Nice day, isn't it?" gets a bigger laugh than all the silliness in other productions. We have here the moralistic tale of two young men, Ferrando (Roberto Sacca) and Guilelmo (Oliver Widmer), betting the older and cynical Don Alfonso (Carlos Chausson) that their lovers, Fiordiligi (Cecilia Bartoli) and Dorabella (Liliana Nikiteanu), are constant. With the aid of the clever maid Despina (Agnes Baltsa), each woos the other's beloved--and both succeed! All around, some unpleasant truths are learned about themselves and only Don Alfonso emerges unscathed. Since the subtitle of this work is "The School for Lovers," we have in this production Don Alfonso actually running a classroom for young men; and several scenes take place in front of the blackboard, which is a prop put to very good use throughout. Never mind that the disguises on the men would fool no one and that at least two pieces on the stage are anachronistically modern. The acting is good, with Bartoli overdoing the facial expressions a little as usual, and the singing of some of the six participants perhaps less than spectacular but always within character. I am recommending this highly as an excellent piece of Theatre and a very good introduction to an opera that lives in the shadow of "Figaro" and "Don Giovanni." The work is on two DVDs in the 16:9 screen ratio. The jacket lists a running time of 275 minutes, which includes a 22-minute "Behind the Scenes" featurette. No libretto but a good synopsis."
This Così is a winner!
David | North Carolina, USA | 08/24/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Mozart's Così fan tutte contains some of his sweetest and most beautiful melodies. Such gorgeous music combined with an excellent libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte make it hard to believe that this opera was largely neglected by the public until the twentieth century. Viewing this DVD is a true delight from beginning to end, as Harnoncourt conducts Mozart's gem just right. The cast is outstanding, made up of a mixture of world-famous singers like Bartoli and Baltsa and others that, while not as well known, bring their characters to life. Even the recitatives are expertly done, thus adding to the humor and the drama of the opera. This production brilliantly conveys the humor on the surface, while at the same time illustrating that just below is a darker world with real tears and pathos as the four lovers discover that true love isn't necessarily forever. The sound and picture quality are excellent, and no fan of Mozart will want to be without this superb DVD. I know this opera well, and this production was enlightening to me on a musical, intellectual, and emotional level that stayed with me long after viewing it."
A theatre production....
H. W. A. Leeuwen | Voorschoten, Netherlands | 08/14/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Aaah...DVD for opera is a fantastic medium since it offers action besides music. And here Harnoncourt is at his best here, offers a rendition really complete, musically and theatrically. Recitatives fresh and interesting for once, here we get the whole picture with all the colours of Mozart`s paint-box. A laugh and a cry at the same time, this performance offers a picture of LIFE, with basically normal people with the same drams, hopes, envies and jealousies that we all have. The result is confrontational, but, then again, isn`t Harncourt allways.... Nikiteanu/Bartoli superb, Widmer excellent. A must for opera lovers."