When this live recording was made in Rome in June 1967, 'Così' was not the popular opera it is today. Up to the early 1920's, this last Mozart/Da Ponte undertaking was always discarded as an immoral work, full of frivolous situations and vulgar mannerisms.
By time, this puritanical attitude has fortunately changed and the opera is now unanimously regarded as a total masterpiece. Notwithstanding this shift in public opinion, recordings still remained sparse. In the last two decades, the music industry has finally given 'Così' the importance it deserves.
What makes this version significant and noteworthy is the fact that it gives us the chance to listen to a Mozart opera in a version in which all the roles receive some truly wonderful characteristics., From Teresa Stich Randall's faithful and vocally assured Fiordiligi to James Martin's loving and sensual Dorabella, from Victor Conrad Brann's mischievous Guglielmo to Walter Krenn's yearningly nostalgic Ferrando. Carlos Feller and Adriana Martino as Don Alfonso and Despina respectively deliver strong and excellently supportive interpretations.
Still, the jewel in the crown of this set is Peter Maag's inspired and felicitous direction. Maag loved 'Così' more than any other opera and his burning desire was to record it for a large publishing company. Up till the end, this dream was on and he had already planned this project with ARTS. Unfortunately, the serious illness that took up his last months prevented him from realizing this great artistic wish. All credit to ARTS then, for releasing this valuable document which goes a long way in consummating Maag's lifelong quest. Sound quality is not as sumptuous as one might expect, but all considered, is good enough not to spoil anyone's pleasure.
Copyright © 2005, Gerald Fenech