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Cosi fan tutte - Paris Opéra Garnier 2000


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Opéra Garnier, Paris, January 17, 2000

Cosě fan tutte

Performances: January 17, 20, 24, 27, 30. February 2, 5, 7

cast: Barbara Frittoli (Fiordiligi), Katarina Karnéus (Dorabella), Russell Braun (Guglielmo), Michael Schade (Ferrando), Nuccia Focile (Despina), Rolando Panerai ( Don Alfonso)
Sir Charles Mackerras (conductor)
Ezio Toffolutti (stage director, costumes and stage setting)

Two Mozart’s operas to begin the new year in Paris : Cosě fan tutte in Palais Garnier and Don Giovanni in Opéra Bastille. This production of Cosě was performed for the first time in 1996, when the Palais Garnier reopened after restoration works, under the baton of Sir Georg Solti. These performances are conducted by another great mozartian man, Sir Charles Mackerras, who gives a dynamical interpretation of the score and puts on light numerous wonderful details of the orchestration-even if the Opéra de Paris orchestra does not follow him all the time… Ezio Toffolutti’s production move the action from Napoli to XVIIIth century Venice. Fine golden lighting effects, costumes and stage setting call up pictures of Tiepolo. Two Polichinelle of venitian carnaval make you remember that Cosě is an opera buffa where people and feelings play under masks. Unfortunately, actors direction remains too superficial. Guglielmo and Ferrando are nice and quick-tempered young men but with a conventional play -they may try too hard in the comedy department- instead of the ladies, more reserved and pertinent. This production introduces for the first time at Opéra National de Paris the young tenor Michael Schade, with a pleasant timbre and resonant, young voice. « Un aura amorosa » was attacked too much in forza -but repeated with more softness-, Michael Schade seems to be more at ease with an intense « Tradito, schernito ».The youthful Guglielmo of barytone Russell Braun is lacking, for the moment, in dramatic personnality. The main problem of the cast is Rolando Panerai, with an awful technique and drawling sounds, far from the « master of the game ».
The way Barbara Frittoli and Katarina Karneus sing together is simply perfect, the colour of their voices leads to emotion. The italian soprano gives us stirring piani, clear and well-controlled high notes but encounters sometimes difficulties with her low notes. Nuccia Focile is a spice Despina. A beautiful musical evening well greeted by the public.

Laurence Varga

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