|Nathan Gunn and Isabel Leonard share an intimate moment in Così fan tutte|
Photo by Marty Sohl © 2010 Metropolitan Opera
As Ferrando, Pavol Breslik displayed a lyric tenor with a sweet delivery and the ability to float his high notes. Nathan Gunn is a characterful, intelligent baritone and a Mozart regular at the Met. As Gugliemo, one of those rich baritone parts that Mozart wrote so well, Mr. Gunn displayed a wide range of emotions, from amorous seducer to jealous boyfriend as the plot developed. In the key role of Don Alfonso, William Shimell sang with a smallish baritone, commenting philisophically on the events that his wager set in motion. All three men blended well together in their Act I scenes together, and are good comedians.
As their lovers (and targets) Miah Persson made the strongest impression in the role of Fiordiligi. This is the character in the opera whose presence owes to most the the opera seria tradition. She puts up real resistance to Ferrando, producing melting tone and dramatic depth to the key moment when she succumbs to his charms. As her sister Dorabella, mezzo Isabel Leonard has a pleasing instrument. Her Act II duet with Mr. Gunn had warmth and charm, and she was a perfect match for Ms. Persson in the many unision lines sung by the sisters in the first act.
Ever since this production opened in 1996, (making a household name out of Cecilia Bartoli) Cosí at the Met has been anchored by Despina, the sisters' maid. Here, the role was taken by Australian mezzo-soprano Danielle die Niesi. The role of Despina requires more than just pretty singing: it is a bustling comic part with multiple costume chages and much slapstick humor. Ms. die Niesi made the most of the role's comic opportunities, working with and against her employers to maneuver them into romantic misunderstanding.
William Christie made his house debut on the podium. Taking the opera's overture at a brisk pace, Mr. Christie led a rapid-fire performance of the Mozart comedy, allowing the winds and brass to blend with the six voices onstage and drawing transparent textures from the orchestra. His performance made the cavernous theater seem like a much smaller venue, one more appropriate to this intimate comic masterpiece.