Home | Reviews | Articles | Festivals | Competitions | Other | Contact Us

MOZART The Da Ponte Operas

Così fan tutte (1790)
Sally Matthews (soprano) – Fiordiligi; Maite Beaumont (mezzo) – Dorabella; Luca Pisaroni (bass-baritone) – Guglielmo; Norman Shankle (tenor) – Ferrando; Danielle de Niese (soprano) – Despina; Garry Magee (baritone) – Don Alfonso

Le nozze di Figaro (1786)
Garry Magee (baritone) – Count Almaviva; Celia Costea (soprano) – Countess Almaviva; Danielle de Niese (soprano) – Susanna; Luca Pisaroni (bass-baritone) – Figaro; Maite Beaumont (soprano) – Cherubino; Charlotte Margiono (soprano) – Marcellina; Mario Luperi (bass) – Bartolo; Marcel Reijans (tenor) – Don Basilio; Norman Shankle (tenor) – Don Curzio; Floor van der Sluis (soprano) – Barbarina; Roberto Accurso (bass) – Antonio; Melanie Greve, Fang Fang Kong – First and second ladies

Don Giovanni (1787)
Pietro Spagnoli (baritone) – Don Giovanni; Mario Luperi (bass) – Commendatore; Myrtò Papatanasiu (soprano) – Donna Anna; Marcel Reijans (tenor) – Don Ottavio; Charlotte Margiono (soprano) – Donna Elvira; José Fardiha (bass-baritone) – Leporello; Roberto Accurso (bass) – Masetto; Cora Burggraaf (soprano) – Zerlina

Netherlands Chamber Orchestra Chorus of De Nederlandse Opera/Ingo Metzmacher
Stage Directors: Jossi Wieler & Sergio Morabito
Set Designer: Barbara Ehnes Costume Designer: Anja Rabes

OPUS ARTE OA 3020BD [694:00 recd. live, Het Muziektheater, Amsterdam, 2006 and 2007]

For the recent Mozart-@-250 year, Amsterdam's Muziektheater opted for a da Ponte trilogy, putting on all three of the operas in a series, drawing on overlapping casts and receiving mixed reviews. The concepts stretch believability and some incongruities are shaky but there are interests and some pleasures on the way.

We got "stuck" at the beginning of Le Nozze with Figaro/Susanna sorting out bed space and wedding costumes in a modern car showroom; a stretch too far, and the start was not helped by rather leaden orchestral playing and shaky ensemble.

We diverted instead to the Cosi, set in a seaside youth hostel, with the chorus prominent as soldiers, students etc to an extent not usual with this opera; this, according to live reviews, was the most satisfactory of the three.

The characterisations worked fairly well, particularly that of the adolescent young ladies who were easily diverted from their extravagant loyalties by a very winning Despina, Danielle de Niese. But Maite Beaumont, having chosen the "dark one", she is over come by 'political correctness' and goes off with the other; denial of colour recognition on stage! (Music Web extends Mozart/da Ponte's disguise/recognition theme in all three of these operas, audiences seeing what the opera stars can't...) The directors obviously had no interest in plausible disguises. The subtitles could often do with adjustment to what we were seeing. Consistency and logic are clearly not a priority for Wieler & Morabito.

The directors' approach to the singers, as illustrated in the Disc 4 introductions to the trilogy, encourages free internalised development of characterisation, and those of Sally Matthews & Maite Beaumont (pictured) are particularly impressive; all in all, a Cosi version worth adding to your collection. We hope to return to the others; these won't be anyone's first choices, but we'll have to give the Figaro and the Don Giovanni, which has the characters all on stage throughout, a proper try.

Peter Grahame Woolf