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Paul J Pelkonen
Opera News, January 2002

"Set in a literal 'School for Lovers,' Jurgen Flimm's production of Cos! Fan Tutte is an entertaining, imaginative version of Mozart's final collaboration with Lorenzo da Ponte. The staging and crisp conducting (by Nikolaus Harnoncourt) put an innovative spin on the opera while remaining true to its main story points.

Roberto Sacca, a German-born tenor of Italian extraction, is right for Ferrando, singing with humor, warmth and romantic fire. One believes he could exit the opera with both leading ladies on his arms. As Guglielmo, Swiss baritone Oliver Widmer burns at a lower temperature, but he sings well and is comfortable in the comic moments.

Cecilia Bartoli and Liliana Nikiteanu are close to ideal as the two leading ladies. These DVDs preserve Bartoli's first Fiordiligi. She produces rich, velvet tones; her acting is fiery yet dignified, her steely determination making the surrender of Act II all the more passionate. While Nikiteanu's Dorabella does not carry the emotional weight of Bartoli's performance, it is an entertaining mix of pretty singing, innocent sexuality and occasional hysterics. She pairs well with Sacca and Widmer, and her voice blends attractively with Bartoli's.

Carlos Chausson's Don Alfonso sings with a wry, dry baritone, prowling the stage with a fox-like gleam. In the Act I quintet, he confides to a double-bass in the orchestra that he cannot stop laughing. This ingenious use of orchestral players in the drama sets the tone for his performance, darkly humorous, waiting in the shadows, eyes glinting as the four foolish lovers fall into his trap. Agnes Baltsa, like her colleague Bartoli a celebrated Dorabella, is a spitfire Despina.

The setting is unconventional - classrooms instead of a tavern, candlelight dancing through the courtyard, an inexplicable ostrich in the 'mesmerism' scene. There is an actual blackboard, on which bets are recorded and key theoretical points (e.g., the unfaithfulness of women) are illustrated. This then flips over to be used as an overhead projector. Act II has prettier images than Act I, the romantic sea of candles seeming to flicker and dance in time to Mozart's delicate woodwind writing.

This DVD preserves one of Harnoncourt's great successes, his sophistication evident in a recording that is balanced and glowing with its own inner light, and an improvement over his earlier CD outing for Teldec."

Robert Croan
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, November 2001

"The most curious aspect of this 'Cosi fan tutte' is not the staging of Jurgen Flimm -- which departs only marginally from the traditional -- but the casting of all three female roles by mezzo-sopranos, and in roles other than the ones they would normally be expected to take on. True, they are famous and accomplished mezzos. Cecilia Bartoli, who had previously performed Dorabella and Despina, here essays the highest role of the three, Fiordiligi, with intermittent vocal success and a persona that misses the exaggerated dignity of this character. Lliliana Nikiteanu, another light-voiced singer who traverses the ranges, is much in Bartoli's shadow as the spunkier sister, Dorabella; while the deeper-toned and now mature Agnes Baltsa is their maid Despina -- not at all in the typical soubrette mold.

The three men hold no surprises, and the ensemble work under conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt is exceptionally good. And although the score is not quite uncut, the two discs last 275 minutes, including a 27-minute behind-the-scenes segment at the end."

Repertoire, November 2001

"Cet orchestre nerveux, lucide, qui teinte chaque scène de son exacte couleur psychologique, parvient également à entrelacer les lignes élégiaques comme rarement... Un passage comme le deuxième Quintetto I en devient sublime. Et tout l'album indispensable. Recommandé"

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