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By Lorenzo Da Ponte/Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

VIDEO: Helena Döse, Sylvia Lindenstrand, Austin, Petra, Thomas Allen; Pritchard conducting [I; English subtitles; Glyndebourne Festival Opera, 1975] VAI 69024 Inheritor of a superb Cosi tradition, this Glyndebourne revival looks fine on paper--have not yet viewed it [G.R.]

AUDIO: (A work this rich can never be encompassed by one interpretation, however strong -- it's well worth having two or three permanently on hand, if possible):

A) PEARL: Ina Souez, Luise Helletsgruber, Willi Domgraf-Fassbaender, Heddle Nash, Fritz Busch conducting; Glyndebourne, 1935; Pearl PEAS 9406 (m); a number of cuts are made and the recording quality is only adequate, not great, sound; modern, stereo recordings with one or two better singers are uncut, but may not always get to the core of this adventure into the human heart the way this recording always does--its whole is greater than the sum of its parts, based, as it is, on the first thoroughly successful production of the opera in this century and Glyndebourne's very first Cosi revival; a revelation in its day, still compelling [G.R.]

B) DG: Irmgard Seefried, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Jochum conducting; again, a recording where the whole is greater than the sum of its (more than adequate) parts; moreover, though it may lack the sheer drive of A, it has almost as much heart, the performing edition is far more complete and the sound quality is considerably better; superb stereo [G.R.]

C) EMI: Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Walter Berry, Karl Boehm conducting; here is Schwarzkopf's vivid Fiordiligi reproduced in splendid sound and Christa Ludwig's Dorabella--nonpareil; once a favorite of mine, Böhm's bewildering stylistic shifts in approach from scene to scene can get distracting; this performance is still stirring at its best; stereo [G.R.]

D) EMI: Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Sesto Bruscantini, von Karajan conducting; viewed as another classic by many, features fine singers, really good sound for mono, in a very slightly cut production; not so much heart as A and B [G.R.]

For Further Reading

Cosi Fan Tutte : Mozart (English National Opera Guide, No 23), by John Nicholas (Editor)

W.A. Mozart, Cosi Fan Tutte (Cambridge Opera Handbooks), by Bruce Alan Brown

The Mozart-Da Ponte Operas : The Cultural and Musical Background to Le Nozze Di Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Cosi Fan Tutte, by Andrew Steptoe

Memoirs of Lorenzo Da Ponte (Da Capo Press Music Reprint Series), by Lorenzo Da Ponte, Elisabeth Abbott (Translator), Arthur Livingston (Editor) -- Da Ponte was not only one of the greatest librettists to ever live, he was a fascinating character who lived a very long and active life. This book is a great read, parts are very funny and he has interesting things to say about all of the composers he worked with (besides Mozart!), the singers he worked (and sometimes fought) with, the women he loved and the many historically important people he met during his long life.

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