Mozart Così fan tutte
Francesco Vultaggio, Héloïse Mas, Alexander Sprague, Biagio Pizzuti, Hamida Kristoffersen; European Opera Centre; Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Laurent Pillot
Rubicon RCD1026 147:60 mins (2 discs)
Così fan tutte, but not as we know it. Ian Woodfield in his book on the opera (reviewed March 2009) demonstrated that Mozart and Da Ponte had toyed with the idea of swapping the partners of the now standard pairs of lovers, so the women are seduced only by their own lovers in disguise, rather than by each other’s lovers, and thus their guilt is diluted. As for the men, their fidelity is not tested at all – which means what has been called ‘an Enlightenment experiment in love’ now has a flawed methodology. Moreover, various deletions and adjustments have been made in this live recording to accomplish this.
Still, the young singers acquit themselves well. Nazan Fikret (Fiordiligi) projects bell-like vocal clarity in ‘Come scoglio’, Héloïse Mas (Dorabella) is commendably secure in ‘Smanie implacabili’, and Alexander Sprague (Ferrando) performs with buffa-esque panache throughout. Biagio Pizzuti (Giglielmo) gets to sing the challenging ‘Rivolgete a me lo sguardo’ which is almost never performed or recorded. The John Eliot Gardiner version of this (1993, Deutsche Grammophon) has a more nuanced orchestral accompaniment, and the brilliant ‘acting with the voice’ found in the 1991 performance by Anton Scharinger (Phillips Complete Mozart, Vol. 23, CD 7) would be hard to beat. Like the plot of Così, this new version is an interesting ‘experiment’, but as with the original there are unsettling results.