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  1. #1
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Così Fan Tutte, Metropolitan Opera

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    Credit Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

    Così Fan Tutte, opera in two acts, premiered at the Court Theater in Vienna, 1790
    Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte, based on his own imagination

    Metropolitan Opera House, performance of May 3, 2014 (186th Met performance of this piece)

    Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus
    Conductor: James Levine
    Chorus Master: Donald Palumbo
    Cello continuo: David Heiss
    Harpsichord continuo: Howard Atkins

    Cast

    Fiordiligi: Guanqun Yu
    Dorabella: Isabel Leonard
    Despina: Danielle de Niese
    Ferrando: Matthew Polenzani
    Gugliemo: Rodion Pogossov
    Don Alfonso: Maurizio Muraro

    The Production Team

    Production: Lesley Koenig
    Stage Director: Robin Guarino
    Set and Costume Designer: Michael Yeargan
    Lighting Designer: Duane Schuler

    ---------

    This was a great evening of live opera, with an excellent cast. Visually this production is exquisite, rendering beautifully the Naples sea-side with very realistic and handsome sets, including a full ship on the sea, and funny touches like Despina dragging in the working quarters of the house. The clever divisions between proscenium and background which are removable, often accounted for very good dynamic use of space, and interesting blocking (such as the revolving doors that bring characters simultaneously in and out).

    Seeing James Levine being rolled in on his wheelchair and collecting all the love the New York public has for him was touching. His brisk and precise conducting was one of the high points of the evening, with the great Met Orchestra doing its usual excellent job.

    The trio of young and pretty singing actresses was a pleasure to see and hear. Ms. Guanqun Yu was a vocally fabulous Fiordiligi, drawing numerous enthusiastic shouts of "Brava!" at various points, to reward the purity of her high notes and her sublime timbre. Seeing how emotional she was during the curtain calls was a nice addition to her ravishing performance. This young Chinese singer, winner of the 2012 Operalia, is having her second role at the Met (she was Leonora in Il Trovatore in 2012) and her career is taking off with numerous appearances in several Italian cities, Monte Carlo, and Valencia. The only aspect that needs some work is her acting, which was a bit too cold and restrained for this lively role. I like my Fiordiligis a bit fiercer and more passionate.

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    Credit Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

    No such problem for Isabel Leonard's Dorabella - she was as lively as can be, with a youthful flirtatious delivery that was helped by her stunning good looks. Vocally speaking, Isabel is a master of this role, which she has interpreted with authority in previous productions. Her well-rounded instrument was impressively smooth and precise in her phrasing of Mozart's gorgeous melodies. Ms. Leonard was a bright star in all her scenes. Read her exclusive Opera Lively interview by clicking [here].

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    Not an inch behind was the charming Danielle de Niese, whose Despina was absolutely hilarious, especially as the Doctor and the Notary. It is impossible to not have a smile on one's face when seeing Ms. de Niese perform her considerable acting talents live on stage, enhanced by her enticing figure and her pleasant voice. This writer had the pleasure of meeting her backstage where she entertained her guests which her notorious down-to-Earth personable demeanor, and she is just as funny in person as on stage (we laughed a lot with her clever tirades).

    Being on the same stage with these three dynamite ladies was a tall order for the three gentlemen. While not as spectacularly entertaining as their female counterparts (well, I mean, maybe for this male writer who couldn't help being charmed by the beautiful feminine trio), our Ferrando and Guglielmo had numerous qualities. Matthew Polenzani's vocal chops are always a pleasure to hear. With near 300 Met performances of 32 roles under his belt, it is hard to understand why he doesn't seem to enjoy the same press attention of some of his colleagues, given that vocally he is one of the most gifted tenors of his generation. Maybe it has to do with the fact that he is seen so often on the Met stage that he is taken for granted - but what needs to be understood is that there is a reason for the opera house to keep hiring him for so many performances: it's because he delivers, each time! One of Matthew's best features is his musical phrasing, and his great control of dynamic variations. He did it again, and especially in the second act, listening to him was a pleasure.

    Russian baritone Rodion Pogossov was definitely a notch below Matthew in terms of singing, but he was still more than adequate, and compensated the vocal disadvantage with very good comedic acting, making the public laugh out loud numerous times.

    The only weaker link was Italian bass-baritone Maurizio Muraro's Don Alfonso. Vocally he was OK and by no means sank the ship, but it was a rather bland performance, also with acting that didn't deliver this cunning and commandeering character as well as it would be expected.

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    Credit Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

    In terms of stage direction concept, this was a traditional setting, but it did have some personality. For one thing, the misogynistic aspect of the piece was a bit enhanced, with passages such as the girls being actually threatened at sword point, and Despina being a bit manhandled. Some versions of Così seem to be a bit sanitized, maybe to avoid shocking the sensibilities of the modern public. No such thing in this production, in which the women seemed to be unceremoniously metaphorically slapped around.

    Overall, this was a very compelling Così with great playing, acting, and singing, over beautiful sets, deserving a score of A+.
    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); May 29th, 2014 at 11:09 PM.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  2. #2
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Now with production pictures - unfortunately there are no pictures of Ms. Yu but rather Susanna Phillips in the role of Fiordiligi.

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    Credit Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

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    But here is how Ms. Yu looks like:

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    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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