[Met Performance] CID:291700
Cosė Fan Tutte {109} Metropolitan Opera House: 03/7/1988.

(Debut: Carlos Feller

Metropolitan Opera House
March 7, 1988

Mozart-Da Ponte

Fiordiligi..............Kiri Te Kanawa
Ferrando................David Rendall
Dorabella...............Susan Quittmeyer
Guglielmo...............Håkan Hagegård
Despina.................Dawn Upshaw
Don Alfonso.............Carlos Feller [Debut]

Conductor...............James Levine

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

Revival gift of Equitable Foundation

Cosė Fan Tutte received ten performances this season.

Review of Will Crutchfield in The New York Times

The ragged edges of stage business and musical ensemble in "Cosi Fan Tutte" at the Metropolitan Opera Monday evening will probably smooth themselves out in later performances, It may be, too, that the singers will find their way to a feeling, thinking, and exploration of Mozart's six characters and the funny, sad, searing, bewildering situation they get themselves into. They make a strong cast vocally, about as strong on the whole, as one opera house could reasonably hope to assemble today. So their first performance together gave pleasure. But it did not satisfy.

During her singing career, Graziella Sciutti knew how to play comedy with seriousness and heart. But as the stage director of this revival, she was either not able or was not given the time and cooperation to lead her cast in that direction. Too much of the show was played with the posturing and frantic scurrying that give opera a bad reputation.

Two examples. When the men pretend to go off to war and Dorabella
rants her distress ("smanie implacabili" and the recitative before it), she may well be aware that she is dramatizing her feelings and wallowing in them. But she cannot be aware, as Susan Quittmeyer clearly was, that she is ridiculous, for then we lose interest. Miss Quittmeyer made ultra-silly motions and was duly rewarded with titters, but who cared what happened to Dorabella after that?

Later, when the disguised lovers present their claims to the sisters, Mozart tells us with unexpected and spellbinding music that perilous feelings may stir. But David Rendall and Hakan Hagegard pranced around the women in circles, gesticulating stupidly and even making "funny" voices for the cadence.

Opera is between a rock and a hard place in the matter of stage direction. "Cosi" does not need the arrogant tricks of the avant-garde auteur-directors, but it needs a stronger guiding hand than was in evidence here.

Kin Te Kanawa made some heavenly sounds and brought some moments of sincere absorption to the role of Fiordiligi; there were moments of vocal awkwardness, too, but hers was the most enjoyable portrayal. Miss Quittmeyer has a beautiful voice and handles it well; one looks forward to more Mozart from her. Mr. Rendall and Mr. Hagegard were not elegant, but they had bright, ringing, well-unified tone. The two men braved the long arias for Ferrando and Guglielmo that Mozart later omitted or replaced.

Dawn Upshaw was a joy to the ear as Despina. Her voice is just about perfect for the part: clear, pretty and young sounding, but also able to project (as many such voices aren't) in the middle range where so much of music lies. And not only her tones but her words, nuances of expression and musical phrasing carried effortlessly into the big house. But her portrayal, too, relied heavily on fast, fluttery motion and scattershot high energy. A clear idea of the person behind the singing was hard to find.

Carlos Feller made his house debut as Don Alfonso, and the part was badly chosen. His manner and presence would surely bring success in any number of comic roles, but not ones whose singer must provide the bass line in musically demanding ensembles. Mr. Feller's voice and rhythm are too ill-defined. James Levine conducted, taking unusually quick tempos but shaping many thoughtful details along the way.

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