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Digging Deeper: Reading & Listening ideas for “Così Fan Tutte”

Mar 6, 2013 7:42:00 AM
By BLO Staff

From the very plentiful expanse of books and CD recordings about COSI and Mozart, just  a few suggestions (and admittedly very personal favorites) for each:

MOZART the DRAMATIST by Brigid Brophy 
Written in 1964 and revised in 1980
Published in paperback by Libris in 1998
The subtitle of this important and influential  book,  "The value of his operas to him, to his age and to us" shows much of the intent of this study. An emphasis is placed on a Freudian view of the operas (she is the author of an excellent study of Freud and literature- BLACK SHIP TO HELL - 1962) as well as being, in part, a feminist critique. It is a very personal, rather idiosyncratic, sharply written and compelling view of Mozart. It thus reflects the  intriguing complexity of the author herself. Brophy is an acclaimed and somewhat controversial  novelist, a serious  literary critic, a political activist, and a crusader for the rights of authors. She died of multiple  sclerosis in 1995 having lived with - and movingly  written about - the disease for 14 years.

MOZART and the ENLIGHTENMENT by Nichols Till   
Published by  W W Norton and Co. paperback edition 1995
Again a subtitle "Truth, Virtue and Beauty  in Mozart's Operas"  tells much.  Till sets the operas in their social, political, biographical, psychological contexts, examines the dramatic emergence of a modern society in 18th century Europe and reappraises the history and meaning of the Enlightenment and Mozart's role within it. Erudite, illuminating and eminently readable, it is "A dazzling tapestry"  [London Times Literary Supplement].

Conducted by Rene Jacobs 
Concerto Koln, Harmonia Mundi recording  1998
Rene Jacobs' series of Mozart  opera recordings have stirred up controversy, extravagant praise, and serious  critical venom. At their best (and I think his FIGARO  heads the list) they are vital, theatrical, bold, risk taking  - and COSI is an excellent example of these qualities. Not populated  with stars in the sense of other COSIs  out there (Fleming, Ti Kawana, von Otter, Schwarzkopf, Ludwig - to mention only the ladies) his cast works with him and the period orchestra to bring to astonishing  life the incomparable score. The accompanying booklet is rich in essays and a fascinating interview with Jacobs.

Conducted by Charles Mackerras 
Orchestra of the Enlightenment 
Recorded by Chandos
This recording stands out for several reasons. It is sung in English - and in the English version that BLO is using. (Although as I have been receiving notes from rehearsal I see  there have been many changes in words as the singers worked their way into the parts and made the text their own) Also the role of Don Alfonso is elegantly sung by Tom Allen (who of course is directing the BLO COSI  as well). In this recording, Mackerras is a fine Mozartian, the cast made up of top English singers in good form  (Janice Watson, Diane Montague,Toby Spence, Christopher Maltman) and the result is eminently enjoyable. Like the Jacobs  CD above there is an excellent introductory essay and a illuminating interview with the conductor. 

~Dr. Von Lyric

Topics: Cosi fan Tutte, digging deeper, Dr. Von Lyric

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