[Met Performance] CID:351325
Cosė Fan Tutte {165} Metropolitan Opera House: 10/21/2005.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
October 21, 2005


COSĖ FAN TUTTE {165}
Mozart-Da Ponte

Fiordiligi.................Barbara Frittoli
Ferrando...................Matthew Polenzani
Dorabella..................Magdalena Kozená
Guglielmo..................Mariusz Kwiecien
Despina....................Nuccia Focile
Don Alfonso................Thomas Allen

Continuo: Kevin Murphy, Harpsichord
    David Heiss, Cello 

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

Production.................Lesley Koenig
Designer...................Michael Yeargan
Lighting designer..........Duane Schuler
Stage Director.............Robin Guarino

Revival gift of The Metropolitan Opera Club

Cosė Fan Tutte received seven performances this season.

Production photos of Cosė Fan Tutte by Marty Sohl / Metropolitan Opera.

Review of David J. Baker in the January 2006 issue of OPERA NEWS

In a production as obsessed with sight gags as the Met's "Cosė Fan Tutte" (revived Oct. 21), it comes as a welcome surprise when a touch of wit emerges in musical form. This rare pleasure occurs during the disguised suitors' mock suicide near the end of Act I, when tenor Matthew Polenzani as Ferrando dramatically modulates his volume after a warning sign from coconspirator Guglielmo, a reminder that the two are supposedly dying of poison and unrequited love. Polenzani's hushed repeat of his rapid eighth-note sequence hits the mark both for its technical skill and for the sense of barely repressed hilarity and apologetic caution it conveys.

This was in many ways Polenzani's night. Right from the [beginning] trio he managed to combine rapid-fire precision with strongly projected tone (well matched by baritone Mariusz Kwiecien in this respect), adding zest to ensembles. He also made the elaborate confection "Ah lo veggio, quell'anima bella" one of the vocal high points of an evening more marked by slapstick than by Mozartean grace. His ardent Un'aura amorosa" demonstrated a flexible mezza voce, even if extended phrases at low volume failed to attain an ideal glow.

As an even more macho and obstreperous Guglielmo, Kwiecien met the vocal requirements with aplomb, while Thomas Allen was an ideally unruffled, tongue-in-check Don Alfonso. Though his bass-baritone timbre paled in some ensembles, Allen's suave diction provided ample rewards during recitatives.

Barbara Frittoli, once past a fairly rocky "Come scoglio," invested Fiordiligi's vulnerability and remorse with affecting lyricism. By the final scenes, her timbre was warm and bright, with the legato floodgates now wide open. Mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kozená contributed a mercurial, downright sporty Dorabella, maybe too willing to sacrifice vocal niceties for comic effect. The same tendency marked Nuccia Focile's practiced, sardonic Despina.

Conductor James Levine allowed some flaccid tempos in the early female duets and indulged Frittoli's cadenza-like, stop-and-go approach to the vast arching phrases ("fanno tanto al nostro amor") in the Act I sextet. Most of the big ensembles, though, had a taut energy, entirely in the spirit of Lesley Koenig's 1996 production (staged here, with new stage business, by Robin Guarino). The overture sounded unpromisingly rough, but as the evening progressed, individual instrumental solos were phrased with Levine's accustomed sensitivity.

Michael Yeargan's Mediterranean sets and costumes still sparkle, especially in the chiaroscuro lighting by Duane Schuler. Not a high-concept "Cosė," Koenig's interpretation invents one significant departure from da Ponte, keeping the new pairings intact at the final curtain; the masquerade, in this view, rang as true as anything that went before.




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