Mozart: Così fan tutte

Royal Opera House/Semyon Bychkov; dir. Jan Philipp Gloger (London, 2018); Opus Arte (DVD)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0
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Mozart Così fan tutte (DVD)
Corinne Winters, Angela Brower, Daniel Behle, Alessio Arduini, Johannes Martin Kränzle, Sabina Puertolas; Royal Opera Chorus & Orchestra/Semyon Bychkov; dir. Jan Philipp Gloger (London, 2018)
Opus Arte DVD: OA 1260 D; Blu-ray: OA BD7237 D

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This new production of Così fan tutte was unveiled at the Royal Opera in September 2016. Musically it is an almost unqualified success; the settings and production are much more questionable, but I noticed as the opera progressed that I was so absorbed in the music and the acting and singing that I was able to ignore most of the irritating features. ‘Operas are always about opera’ Tim Carter falsely announces in the accompanying booklet (which irritatingly has no list of entry points), and director Jan Philipp Gloger tries to bear this out by setting the opera in a theatre – the Overture, brilliantly played and conducted by Semyon Bychkov, accompanies actors coming before the curtain to take their final bows. The settings and costumes are wildly miscellaneous, in fact taken from the Royal Opera’s furniture and clothes stores. Yet the singers, mainly young and comparatively unfamiliar, are all personable and all have attractive voices. They don’t clown, much, apart from the maid Despina, who is almost always a trial with her ugly funny voices. These characters take themselves as seriously as they should, which makes Così itself a painfully serious opera, the most penetrating artistic analysis of erotic love ever created. This quartet of characters take all their feelings at face value, with the result that their hearts are broken, until in the last minute of the opera they decide, fatuously, ‘to rule life with reason’, something they will instantly fail to do. No performance of Così that I have seen conveys its message more clearly.

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Michael Tanner