Aureole etc.

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Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Cosí Fan Tutte - opera in two acts.
Fiordiligi, Christina Deutekom (sop). Dorabella, Tatiana Troyanos (m. sop). Despina, Emilia Ravaglia (sop). Guglielmo, Claudio Giombi (bar). Ferrando, Renzo Casellato (ten). Don Alfonso, Paolo Montarsolo, (bar).
Orchestra and Chorus of the Teatro La Fenice, Venice/Peter Maag.
Live recording 10th December 1968.
MONDO MUSICA. MFOH 10171 (2CDs:74.00+72.02)


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In a review (elsewhere on this site) of La Bohème in this series of live recordings from La Fenice, I welcome the emergence of authorized, good standard, recordings, made over the past thirty or forty years, of live performances from provincial Italian theatres. They often have casts of wholly native speakers or, as here, a core with that significant strength. They feature names we know well from recordings alongside those that never achieved that accolade. On this issue the names of the two leading ladies will be readily recognized. Dutch-born Christina Deutekom first hit the studio as Solti’s ‘Queen of the Night’ in the first of his Die Zauberflöte recordings (1969 Decca) and became a Philips contracted artist singing the soprano roles in the first of that label’s early Verdi series (I Lombardi of 1971 and Attila the following year). This Cosí of 1968 shows her upper voice security but also her frailty lower down the register where her quick vibrato becomes tremulous allied to a lack of variety of tonal depth and colour. ‘Come Scoglio’ (CD 1 tr 5), lacks the meaning or bite that Te Kanawa’s creamy tone (for Levine on DG), or Amanda Roocroft’s vibrantly young voice, with smooth legato and declamation, (for Gardiner on DG Archive) bring in abundance. Her sister, Dorabella, is sung by the American Tatiana Troyanos who is a sexy Carmen in Solti’s 1976 recording and an imperious Charlotte on Plasson’s 1979 Werther. However, she doesn’t strike me as a natural Mozartian able to float the legato lines and inflect them with meaning or passion. She fines down her voice for the duets with her sister and yet seems less than comfortable matching the bite of the gritty-toned but expressive Guglielmo.

Of the remaining singers, two bring particular pleasure. First, the Ferrando of Renzo Casellato, a singer not known to me previously. His is a lovely Mozart tenor voice with honeyed ‘mezza’ voce head-tone and passagio balanced by an edge in the chest register that allows him to give expression and bring character to the part. His ‘Un aura amorosa’ (CD1 tr 17) is a five-minute ‘tour de force’. (I forgive the intrusive, but quickly faded, applause). Montarsolo is an excellent master of manipulation, full of character and fruity tone with just the odd bit of roughness. The Despina is rather thin-toned and vocally overplays her characterization in the disguises. The conductor and continuo keep the momentum well and the finales have vibrancy.

The recording of the overture sounds rough but sound balances soon settle. There is some stage noise particularly in the act 2 finale and there are times when the voices retreat; doubtless associated with stage movement. The biggest drawback concerns the music cuts and the sparse tracking of act 2 which comes in at only 61 minutes as against 95 (Marriner) on Philips. Worse, it’s not just recitatives that are cut. CD 2 tr. 6 starts with the duet ‘Il cor vi dono’ (Score No 23) and after 11 minutes we move to tr. 7. ‘Donna mie’ (Score No 26). The recit between Ferrando and Guglielmo is included in tr. 6 but ‘Per Pieta’ (NO 25) and Ferrando’s ‘Ah, lo veggio’ (No 24) have gone! Caveat emptor. That being said, at the right price this issue could provide an enjoyable introduction to Cosí and which will be illuminated by interesting essays in the booklet. This includes a synopsis in Italian and English.

Robert J Farr

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