October 2004, I reviewed Muti's 1989 Scala Così (see
This Salzburg performance is actually the same production,
just six years earlier and with different cast
The production is the same (Michael Hampe); the TDK, though,
is spread over two DVDs and it seems quite easy to find
the Scala for half the price of the Salzburg.
by 1989 they had realised the opening scene in 1983 was
rather crowded on stage - or perhaps it is just that Scala
has a bigger stage than the Kleines Festspielhaus - but
in Salzburg there is a rather claustrophobic feeling to
the opening exchanges. The actual recorded sound seems
closer in Salzburg, too. But 1983's secret weapon is, of
course, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, on home ground
and enjoying every second. Where Scala may have sounded
rather heavy, the Viennese merely sound exuberant. Technically,
they tear strips off the Italians, too – the strings' many
runs are preternaturally together, time after time.
too, the Salzburg is superior in almost every case. 'Almost'
being the important word, for there is one exception. The
great prima donna Kathleen Battle cannot hope to equal
Adelina Scarabelli's coquetry for Scala. Superstar la
Battle may be, she is not really cut out for humour
- although her Act 2 aria, instructing the ladies on flirting,
is, in fairness, a model of style. Battle really comes
a cropper in comparison when Despina appears dressed as
the Notary, complete with silly voice. Scarabelli is hilarious
- I had to keep playing it again! Battle sort of gets the
idea but again, it is not really her thing.
for the four major roles is inspired. Ann Murray has bags
of character - her acting is beyond compare - as Dorabella,
while the partnership of Francisco Araiza and James Morris
works beautifully. Both of these gentlemen I immediately
associated with heavier roles – I was present at Morris'
Proms 2000 Wotan – Walküre – reported on by Ryamond
Walker (see review). Margaret Marshall and Murray as a
pairing is also superb.
Marshall is perhaps less impressive than the other three
main characters as a soloist, her voice fits perfectly
with Murray's and both ladies can float a phrase beautifully.
Fiordiligi's 'Come scoglio' is, perhaps appropriately,
the zenith of her participation. She is much less convincing
when she begs forgiveness later in the opera.
'Un aura amorosa' sums up his work as a soloist in his
own right - as opposed to part of the Ferrando/Guglielmo
coupling) – good, but not more. There is an element of
warming up as the production progresses to Araiza which
is not there with any of the other principals.
acts Alfonso better than Desderi, it has to be said. Vocally,
the awards are fairly equally spread here. Muti conducts
many passages beautifully - magical pianissimi for the
sea breezes, for example. There is no real choice to be
made here. If you want Muti, go for this Muti in Salzburg
if you can afford the extra.