Cosi [1996]

Director: Mark Joffe
Stars: Ben Mendelsohn, Barry Otto, Toni Collete, Rachel Griffiths
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Music
Rating: R (Restricted)
Runtime: 100 minutes

Mozart's third and final opera with librettist Lorenzo da Ponte, the hugely ambitious dramatic comedy Così fan Tutte (roughly translated as "They're All Like That"), is brought passionately to life in a first-class production conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt and featuring one of the great starring roles for Cecilia Bartoli. Filmed live at the Zurich Opera House in February 2000 on a set that visualizes the subtitle "The School for Lovers," the plot revolves around two army officers arguing about the fidelity of their brides, then setting out to test their chastity. Despite the often playful humor, this not only is psychologically telling music-making, but reveals Mozart exploring the structure of opera, discarding convention to mix large ensemble sections with arias for as many different combinations of singers as possible. With Liliana Nikiteanu attractively contrasted with Bartoli, and thoroughly convincing performances by Roberto Sacca (Ferrando) and Oliver Widmer (Guglielmo), this Così has a freshness and flow that, coupled with the timeless romantic themes, feels very contemporary. --Gary S. Dalkin

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