Così fan tutte
CHAN 3168
The School for Lovers
Opera buffa in two acts
Libretto by Lorenzo de Ponte
English version by Marmaduke Browne
Adapted by John Cox

The Cast

Janice Watson, soprano - Fiordiligi
Diana Montague, mezzo-soprano - Dorabella Christopher Maltman, baritone - Guglielmo
Toby Spence, tenor (PMF Scholar) - Ferrando
Lesley Garrett, soprano - Despina
Thomas Allen, baritone - Don Alfonso

Geoffrey Mitchell Choir
Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
Gareth Hancock - Assistant conductor
Sir Charles Mackerras - conductor
Recorded in Watford Colosseum 3-6 and 8-11 January 2007, and 15, 17, 18 20 August 2007
Producers - Brian Couzens (Executive)
and James Mallinson
Sound engineer - Jonathan Stokes....Assistant engineer - Andrew Hallifax
The Observer

‘With Sir Charles Mackerras in charge, a lifetime as an exemplary Mozartian seasons this fine recording of the last of Mozart's Da Ponte operas. Sung in English, it draws on veteran as well as newer talent...'
The Sunday Times

‘The Australian conductor - surely the world’s most illuminating and rewarding Mozartian - conjures sounds of mercurial brilliance and heart-stopping beauty from the OAE and his all-British cast in this vernacular version of Mozart’s most enigmatic comedy. As in his unforgotten ENO production of 1980, Mackerras uses the translation by the Victorian clergyman Marmaduke Browne, which may miss some of the more salacious double entendres of Da Ponte’s masterly text, but, as delivered by this superb cast, is laugh-out-loud funny. Thomas Allen is inspired casting for the manipulative Don Alfonso, but so too is Lesley Garrett’s impish Despina, still in fine voice and giving object lessons in delivering comic payoffs... Janice Watson and Diana Montague might be thought slightly “senior” casting for the ladies today, but the freshness of their voices is amazing... Toby Spence (Ferrando) and Christopher Maltman (Guglielmo) have done nothing better on disc.’
Così fan tutte recording sessions photographed by Bill Cooper

‘I confess that sometimes opera in English sounds too close to Gilbert and Sullivan at their cheesiest. But in a sparkling comedy such as CosI fan tutte that is not necessarily a bad thing, and in fact I found myself enjoying this tremendously, simply because it was the first time in a long while that I had bothered to concentrate on exactly what the characters were saying. So if "Opera in English" brings a wider audience closer to the heart of Mozart's and da Ponte's masterpiece, then it can only be a wonderful thing. Of course, it helps that the music has seldom sounded as glorious as it does in the hands of Sir Charles Mackerras and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Both are consummate Mozartians, and the pacing, ebb and flow of the music is near-perfect. In particular, the OAE's woodwind are on ravishing form. In terms of stylishness, orchestral sound and the sentimental strength of the playing, this CosI is on a par with the finest period-instrument versions (Ostman and Gardiner), and arguably has more heart than the OAE's previous recording under Sir Simon Rattle.’
The Daily Telegraph

‘Charles Mackerras, always a rewarding Mozart conductor, directs a taut, urgent account of the opera. Recitatives tumble inevitably into arias.
Yet, despite his penchant for mobile tempos, Mackerras is fully alive to Così 's uniquely voluptuous, nostalgic tinta... the OAE's soft-toned, "woody" clarinets and bassoons - siren voices in this opera - contribute their own magic.

Crucially in an opera of ensembles, the cast works well as a close-knit team, whether in the concerted numbers or in the recitatives, taken at a natural, conversational pace. Janice Watson and Diana Montague make an appealing, intelligently characterised pair of sisters... Christopher Maltman's debonair Guglielmo and Thomas Allen's Alfonso - a masterclass in sly inflection and comic timing - could hardly be bettered.’