Nicholas Hytner’s production of Mozart’s Così fan tutte, seen at Glyndebourne in 2006, is about as traditional as it gets. The story is straightforwardly told and the settings and costumes are 18th century Naples, or at least some operatic approximation of it. That said, it’s immensely enjoyable and, just occasionally, goes beyond the superficial. The strength lies in the casting and in the director’s decision to allow his young singers to behave like young people. Miah Persson as Fiordiligi and Anke Vondung as Dorabella are close to perfect in their exuberant girlishness. Naturally Vondung gets to be a bit ditzier than the angstier Persson because that’s how the thing is written. Both of them sing extremely well too and there’s nothing lacking in the big solos or duets.
The boys also make a suitably testosterone fuelled pair of just past adolescents. Topi Lehtipuu and Luca Pisaroni were probably, in 2006, about as fine a pair of Mozart singers as was to be had and they look and sound great here. Nicolas Rivenq as Alfonso and Ainhoa Garmendia as Despina round out a very fine cast. Ivan Fischer’s tempi tend to the brisk and the OAE and the Glyndebourne Chorus respond with appropriately vivacious performances. The one thing one does get as insight from a performance as close to the libretto as written as this is just how cruel this opera is at core. The Ferrando/Fiordiligi duet in Act 2 is actually quite chilling, especially as embedded in a production that oozes physical comedy.
On Blu-ray the picture is superb, especially for the period and the sound; Dolby True HD, is very good too. I might have preferred that video director Francesca Kemp had been a little less busy but it’s not too distracting. There are lots of extras on the disk including insightful interviews with Hytner and Fischer and the booklet includes an essay and a synopsis. Subtitle options are English, French, German, Spanish and Italian.
At time of writing this production is available as part of a three disk set with the Glyndebourne 2012 Le Nozze di Figaro and the 2015 Die Entführung aus dem Serail. Overall this is an enjoyable and very recommendable Così, especially for traditionalists, but I think there’s more depth in Guth’s Salzburg version.