Mozart's Cosi fan tutte
A scene from Mozart's Cosi fan tutte
At a crowded
Odeon Cineplex in Niagara Square, the lady sitting beside me remarks that today's opera, Mozart's Cosi fan tutte (an HD rendition of a live performance at New York's
Metropolitan Opera), marks the comeback of renowned maestro
James Levine after a
two-year health-related absence. Levine steadfastly led the Met orchestra for 40 straight years as a
1996 version of Cosi will attest. Today, with wild hair looking like he stuck a finger in an electrical socket, Levine utilizes a specialized podium with a rotating platform and elevator mechanism, named the "maestro lift," to house his motorized wheelchair.
As the overture begins, we sense that he is indeed back, and he leads singers and musicians through two long acts of intricate solos and blending, quite often,
difficult sextets as epitomized by the climatic music that ends Act I.
With Renée Fleming acting as host at intermission, all of the leads pay homage to Levine, crediting him with encouraging their A-game for this performance. In fact, he seems to make the entire Mozart process seem effortless, but we know better.
Matthew Polenzani and baritone
Rodion Pogossov play Ferrando and Guglielmo, young military officers and friends in Naples, bragging to Don Alfonso, bass-baritone Maurizio Muraro, about their girlfriends, but the cynical bachelor inspires a wager that he can prove their love interests unfaithful, and so the game begins, leading to comic interludes as the two suitors are supposedly forced to suddenly go away to war and in disguise as Arabic-looking Albanians, they try to seduce each other's fiancées with the help of soprano
Danielle de Niese, the worldly-wise Despina, a chambermaid for the
sisters. She is riotous and realistic, much like the earthy Penny in dealing with nerds in Big Bang Theory.
Matthew Polenzani (
Ferrando), Rodion Pogossov (
Guglielmo), Maurizio Muraro (
Susanna Phillips (
Isabel Leonard (
Dorabella) and Danielle de Niese (
Despina) all project beautiful voices and sound acting, yet I found the play unduly long and repetitive, needing more vibrant staging as there is a minimum of action on the simplistic set. (Not as much fun either at intermission, watching hordes of crewmen assembling intricate props and set as in the Met's more elaborate productions.)
Read The Story Synopsis
The last production in this series is
Rossini's La Cenerentola on May 10, 2014, 12:55 pm ET.
A peerless pair of Rossini virtuosos joins forces in La Cenerentola - a vocal tour de force for mezzo-soprano
Joyce DiDonato, singing her first Met performances of the Cinderella title role, and the high-flying tenor
Juan Diego Flórez, as her Prince Charming.
Alessandro Corbelli and
Luca Pisaroni complete the cast, with Met Principal Conductor Fabio Luisi leading the effervescent score.