[Met Performance] CID:278880
Così Fan Tutte {93} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/10/1984.

(Debut: Graziella Sciutti

Metropolitan Opera House
December 10, 1984

Mozart-Da Ponte

Fiordiligi..............Carol Vaness
Ferrando................David Rendall
Dorabella...............Ann Murray
Guglielmo...............David Holloway
Despina.................Mariella Devia
Don Alfonso.............Cornell MacNeil

Conductor...............Jeffrey Tate

Production..............Colin Graham
Stage Director..........Graziella Sciutti [Debut]
Set designer............Hayden Griffin
Costume designer........Deirdre Clancy
Lighting designer.......Gil Wechsler

Così Fan Tutte received sixteen performances this season.

Review of Donal Henahan in The New York Times

"Cosi fan tutte" is an opera that has always tempted directors to tinker with it. For some reason, it is often assumed that its dramatic situation will not be grasped by modern audiences unless it is lifted out of its 18th-centnry milieu and dragged by the nape of the neck into our time. But, as is demonstrated in any reasonably faithful and well-sung performance, this of all Mozart operas needs no updating or other cleverness. It speaks to us today, wittily and wisely, in exactly the way it must have spoken to the audiences of Mozart and his librettist, Lorenzo da Ponte. It is not a foolproof work, because it demands ensemble acting and singing of a high polish, but the only help it needs is plenty of talent onstage and backstage.

The Metropolitan Opera's production, new in 1982 returned to the repertory Monday night and proved again the vitality of "Cosi." Foremost among its assets was its Fiordiligi, as sung and acted with an unusual range of nuances by Carol Vaness. Miss Vaness, whose glistening soprano seems to have taken on a new richness, especially in her lower range, gave this performance its most touching moment with a "Per pieta" that she was able to sustain in spite of Jeffrey Tate's rather sleepy tempos. Fiordiligi's "Come scoglio," which must somehow be a vocal thriller and a stylistic parody at the same time, blazed out impressively, too. Miss Vaness has grown into an actress of some dimension.

The staging, originally by Colin Graham, had been given over to Graziella Sciutti, the soprano who turned to directing a few years ago and has made a considerable success of her second career. Miss Sciutti is not, on the evidence of this "Cosi," a director who wants to shine at the expense of the opera at hand. The finale, for instance, was content to let the four disenchanted pair off with their original partners, rather than trying for the extra frisson of ambiguity or outright couple switching that has become a "Cosi" cliché in recent times.

It cannot be easy for a director to put an individual stamp on a production as visually distinctive and quirky as this one, but Miss Sciutti was able to fit her ideas in without contradicting the original scheme. She adhered to the 18th-century convention of balance and symmetry, probably for no worse reason than Mozart's music does too. I would quarrel, however, with the joke that ends the first scene in which Don Alfonso gets stuck with a bar check at the end, like Alcindoro in "La Bohéme," and with the retaliation of all those stagehands dressed as commedia dell'arte characters. Despina also turns up in a commedia dell'arte mask when she masquerades as the mesmerizing doctor. It is hard to see the point in mixing styles in this fashion.

As Fiordiligi's sister Dorabella Ann Murray sang tastefully and played her part pertly. Hers is not a voice of enough distinction to make her appointment to the role inevitable in this house, but within her limits she was admirable. Nor did David Rendall, the only holdover from the I982 premiere's cast, blot out any memories of great Ferrandos past. The manner is a little heavy voice turns to a metallic bleat on its top notes. Satisfactory in ever way, however, was David Holloway, a Guglielmo with a resonant baritone and a good range of expression.

The conspirator, Don Alfonso and Despina, where portrayed with indifferent success by Cornell MacNeil and Mariella Devia. Mr. MacNeil, taking over the sophisticated cynic that Donald Gramm made so memorable in 1982, could only strike a few stock poses, rather in the manner of the Elder Germont. However, he had the voice to make a fine, bitter moment of his "Tutti accusan le donne," as nasty a declaration of philosophy as occurs in the opera literature. Miss Devia's piping soprano could not be detected in ensemble numbers and her comedic gifts were too modest to compensate for her lack of vocal heft.

Photograph of Carol Vaness as Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte by Winnie Klotz/Metropolitan Opera.

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