[Met Performance] CID:299080
Cosė Fan Tutte {120} Metropolitan Opera House: 01/12/1990.


Metropolitan Opera House
January 12, 1990


Fiordiligi..............Carol Vaness
Ferrando................Jerry Hadley
Dorabella...............Tatiana Troyanos
Guglielmo...............Thomas Hampson
Despina.................Betsy Norden
Don Alfonso.............Richard Van Allan

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

Review of Martin Mayer in Opera Magazine (UK)

On January 12 Levine's attention to surface paid off in another way, for "Cosi fan tutte" was extremely beautiful. Margaret Price had cancelled, and we had Carol Vaness between Rosalindes as our Fiordiligi. In her Fach, which centres on Mozart, Vaness is already one of the great sopranos of our time: I tell my children boastfully that I heard Callas and Tebaldi in their prime, and that they will tell the world 35 years from now that they heard Carol Vaness. Her sister was Tatiana Troyanos, who delightfully shrugged off her normal gravity to be a flirtatious Dorabella. These are two of our most intelligent singing artists, and both are famously good colleagues; their rather similar voices blended just exquisitely. One would shout bravos for the casting except, of course, that it was an accident.

The men, however, were deliberate, and almost equally wonderful. Levine's three-year campaign to convince Jerry Hadley that he doesn't have to push in this house bore fruit was in as relaxed an 'aura amorosa' as you could hope to hear. Thomas Hampson is already a Mozart baritone of immense accomplishment, and keeps getting better. Richard Van Allan was physically and vocally the always graceful Don Alfonso this production calls for. Betsy Norden, pressed into service as Despina, is a valued comprimaria and a good actress.

The production itself is gracious, and offers an excellent acoustic, the stage-within-a-stage serving as a kind of band-shell for the singers. The stagehands love their commedia dell'arte costumes and posture charmingly just before they push the walls around. Graziella Sciutti, who directed, has a good eye and a light touch. But there is more to this work than farce, and not much of that more comes through. If these people do not grow as the music deepens (the bassoon joke on 'amore' would be impossible in Act 2), the second half becomes a string of numbers. The tip-off is always how the audience reacts when Guglielmo comments on the Ferrando-Fiordiligi duet, the deeply moving `sospira' he has just stumbled upon. If the reaction is laughter, something is wrong. At the Met, they laughed.

Still, it was an evening when there was no place in the world one would rather be than this opera house, listening to this orchestra and these singers and this conductor in this work. Maybe one shouldn't ask for more.

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