Don Alfonso..........Thomas Allen
In 1996 I recorded Mozart's Cosi fan tutte with Cecilia Bartoli in her Met debut as Despina when it came on public television, but my son taped over it. This quarrel came near the beginning of my wild infatuation with La Bartoli. I decided to keep him anyway. So this year he gave me a year of Met on Demand making this my first opportunity to watch it after all these years.
This production ran at the Met until very recently. It is visually inert, but this means nothing when Cecilia is on the stage. Her face alone is filled with liveliness. She is constantly in motion. I do rather like the men's disguises.
Cecilia does recitative like no one else. I wish very much that her Met career had been longer. Her wonderful theatrical magnetism dominates every scene she is in, though this role doesn't show off the coloratura she has become famous for. As a doctor she wears a large red nose.
Musically it's rather blah as well. These are all good singers, so more could have been expected. In those days Levine was the only conductor we saw. He doesn't find anything interesting in this score.
Towards the end Cecilia is in her notary disguise with giant eyebrows and a giant mustache, far more spectacular than those worn by our Albanians. She provides what life there is in the production, but I would recommend it for this alone. At the end our Despina realizes that she has been used and throws down the money Don Alfonso has given her.
This comic masterpiece has to be the most unusual Met debut by an already wildly famous singer ever.