Mozart – Così fan tutte / Staatsoper Berlin 2002 (3)

(Previous section here.)

Röschmann is not the only one emoting in this performance. Werner Güra sings an “un aura amorosa” that is very easy on the ears, and in general gives the impression that Ferrando gets sucked into the game more than his friend does – by Act II Ferrando appears to mean what he’s doing. “Fra gli amplessi” is wonderfully intense (and we get bonus reprise of the gardening shears!). I enjoyed Röschmann here too – Fiordiligi’s “giusto ciel . . .crudel!” (the held high A) was great.


(Due to a mild dearth of track divisions on the dvd, at the beginning of this clip you also get bonus “è amore un ladroncello” by Kammerloher, who both sounds wonderful and is very funny – this is another one of those clips where the sisters are clearly two very different people. Dorabella has ditched her wig by this scene, whereas Fiordiligi has clamped hers on again and slaps away all attempts to mess with it – although she soon loses it again.)

The conviction and personality with which this is performed also comes through in the wedding scene, before the signing of the marriage contract – the quartet of the four lovers is used as it should be, as a moment in which everyone’s doubts and longings and all that gleam through for a moment.

The opera ends ambiguously. The two couples are seated in the living room of the women’s apartment, looking miserable. Ferrando pulls Dorabella back when it looks as if she’s about to move toward Gugliemlo, and she in turn jerks him back down when he gets up to face Fiordiligi. The only two people who look happy by the end are Despina and Alfonso, who have a little tiff and reconciliation and then an embrace and by the time the curtain goes down they appear to be about to do it on the kitchen counter. Free love works for some, I guess.

So, this is an effective modern-day version of this opera. (As opposed to a period production, or one that’s located in a more abstract notime/noplace.) If I had to guess I’d say it’s effective because it’s a modern production that’s located in a specific historical moment, and that moment is related to some of the main themes of the opera. (And it actually makes more sense in some places than other modern productions, e.g. with the part where Despina is disguised as a doctor. If it’s modern-day in a general sense, Despina’s “cure” often seems ludicrous – but here, Despina’s a new-age healer, and waving rocks around and hoping for the best makes sense: after all, the two women are clearly susceptible to the hippie schtick in other ways.) I’m not sure I’d hand this dvd to someone who had never seen the opera before, but I certainly enjoyed it – it hits a really nice balance between goofiness and emotional weight.

19 thoughts on “Mozart – Così fan tutte / Staatsoper Berlin 2002 (3)

  1. I agree with you this update works very well. It probes the psychological stuff without getting too dark (Or dirty) This production is the reason I looked forward to Director Doris Dorrie’s “La Finta Giarnidnarwhatever”. Unfortunately, though her setting was cute (a homo-depot-like garden store), I think the basic problem with THAT opera is that its actually fairly boring.

    Meanwhile, this Cosi and the Zurich one with Malin Hartelius, Ruben Drole, etc. (looks traditional, but action is pretty over the top) are my current favorites!

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    1. I haven’t seen Dorrie’s Giardiniera – I should. (I know what you mean about that opera, too – I’ve seen a few productions that are charming and fun, but the opera as a whole isn’t as absorbing and wonderful as Mozart’s best ones)

      The Zurich one might well be my favorite cosi overall – Drole and Hartelius and Bonitatibus are fantastic. And the production is sort of restful on the eyes – I don’t find myself constantly spotting new and distracting visual details the way I do with the Dorrie one (not that I dislike detail! but sometimes not having to worry about it is nice.)

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  2. I really have to get back to watching more Mozart. Rameau and Tan Dun aren’t cutting it. That said my “on order” pile is actually 3xStrauss, a Riemann and a Verdi and my next live gig is Weber so maybe not so soon.

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  3. Light bulb! I was formulating an academic question about this production, because I notice you tagged these posts “regie”.

    And that is, what makes this version of Cosi “regie” as opposed to a very well done update (maybe a very well done update IS regie)? Dorrie clearly has a strong point of view, but she doesn’t clobber us over the head with it. Does that make it regie-lite?

    Then I had the light bulb moment: The girls are in disguise at the beginning of the opera!. The wigs, doing the domestic shtick for their boys. They reveal themselves when the wigs come off. Which means neither of them is really suited to the men, who seem to be genuine in their uptight Mad Men drag.

    Your thoughts?

    P.S. This is the kind of thinking that happens to me in the shower. I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing! 🙂

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    1. P.P.S. This is one of the things I love about this type of production. I keep thinking about it long after the curtain falls. Then I go back and look again and find more interesting stuff to ponder.

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        1. I don’t know – Fiordiligi seems too attached to her wig and too fond of cleaning for it to be a mere schtick for the boys!

          After I read your comment I had to stop and think why I tagged this as regie. I mean, it’s certainly not regie of the ‘apples and ninjas and naked Elvis impersonators eating bugs’ type. I think it was because it seems distinct from just an updated production in a general sense. It’s updated to a specific time, and the content and style of the update indicate that the director has a very specific take on the opera, to the point where it dictates a lot of aspects of the performers’ interpretations of the roles. I get a strong sense of “hey, consider the interpretation!” from this. It’s not just updated to the 70s – it’s up dated to “the 70s!” But it might not be regie in the Claus Guth or Martin Kusej type of way, where sometimes you stop and think WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE?

          I guess it depends on the definition of Regie. For me it can involve some or all of a series of things (I’m making up this list as I think b/c I never really stopped to fully articulate to myself what the term means)
          1. “theater about theater” which I don’t think this is, quite
          2. “director’s theater” where the director’s concept sort of overpowers the whole thing, which you could say is true of this Cosi
          3. gratuitous weird shit for the sake of shocking/upsetting people (not the case here)
          4. high levels of abstraction (not the case here)
          5. political grandstanding (not the case here, although there’s some mild criticism of conventional relationship expectations)

          By those standards this isn’t regie – and at the same time, I sort of want to label it as regie, because it’s one of those performances where everyone remembers the production and (based on Amazon reviews & other sources) seems to have a strong opinion about it.

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