Backlash to Salzburg’s Cosi: It’s not new

Backlash to Salzburg’s Cosi: It’s not new


norman lebrecht

August 06, 2020

Frankfurt media are getting very worked up over ecstatic acclamation for Christof Loy’s Salzburg Cosi fan tutte.

The production, they point out, has been running in Frankfurt since 2008, with five extended revivals. It’s staple rep, nothing new.

What’s more, Salzburg’s claim that Joana Mallwitz is its first female opera conductor is also bogus. Previous batons were Anne Manson and Julia Jones.

Frankfurt is very upset.



  • operaenthusiast says:

    Please be precise: Mrs. Mallwitz is indeed the first female conductor leading an opera production, including all the rehearsals and the opening night, which btw is the official festival announcement. Not to diminish the accomplishments of the other two lady’s. But they were jump-ins for male colleagues who stepped down from their engagements with short notice. Shame on the festival that nothing came for them after that, but still the reality.

    • Hermann Lederer says:

      If you want precision I think it is better to start with oneself. Fact is: Julia Jones was announced month before the festival opened and did all the rehearsals and performances in that year.

  • MWnyc says:

    And did Frankfurt field casts this good?

    I don’t think all that ecstatic acclamation was just for the empty white room on the stage.

  • A.L. says:

    As well they should. Something similar happened at the Met with their Jonathan Miller production of ‘Le Nozze di Figaro’ back in the mean old ‘90s, which was widely touted by the Met’s press office as new (as in new to the world) except that the production had premiered a few years earlier in Vienna, at Theater an der Wien, with a different (and arguably better) cast and conductor. A good thing, then, that Peter Gelb, then with Sony, captured the Vienna ensemble on video. For reasons unexplainable, though, Sony never bothered to reissue it on DVD. Go figure.

    • Don Ciccio says:

      Here are the casts of the two productions.

      Vienna 1992. State Opera Orchestra. Conductor: Claudio Abbado.

      Conte Almaviva: Ruggero Raimondi
      Contessa Almaviva: Cheryl Studer
      Susanna: Marie McLaughlin
      Figaro: Lucio Gallo
      Cherubino: Gabriele Sima
      Marcellina: Margarita Lilowa
      Bartolo: Rudolf Mazzola
      Basilio: Heinz Zeidnik
      Don Curzio: Franz Kasemann
      Barbarina: Yvetta Tannenebergerova
      Antonio: Istvàn Gàti

      Met 1998. Met Orchestra. Conductor: James Levine.

      Figaro………………Bryn Terfel
      Susanna……………..Cecilia Bartoli
      Count Almaviva……….Dwayne Croft
      Countess Almaviva…….Renée Fleming
      Cherubino……………Susanne Mentzer
      Dr. Bartolo………….Paul Plishka
      Marcellina…………..Wendy White
      Don Basilio………….Heinz Zednik
      Antonio……………..Thomas Hammons
      Barbarina……………Danielle de Niese [Debut]
      Don Curzio…………..Anthony Laciura
      Bridesmaid…………..Jennifer Welch-Babidge [Debut]
      Bridesmaid…………..Andrea Trebnik [Debut]

      I would take the Met cast, but with the Vienna orchestra and conductor. Not as big Abbado fan as some others reading this blog, and his Mozart never particularly impressed me, but I generally prefer him to Levine.

      • Tristan says:

        have seen both and it’s just the wonderful house in Vienna Theater an der Wien that has so much more charm than the horrendous size of the MET – both casts were beautiful and Fleming at her best but Studer wasn’t bad either – Bartoli nothing special and the audience at the MET never warmed up with this overrated singer – McLaughlin was beautiful and Raimondi and Gallo finally Italian – Salzburg since Mortier understands best to charm the critics as most performances there are totally overrated – heard weak comments from a few in the audience who even know about music….not often there and thought it was mediocre
        Voila enjoy Miller’s Figaro and of course Abbado more striking than Jimmy

      • Don Ciccio says:

        Should mention that I also saw the Met second cast, with Lott as the countess and Bonney – much better than Bartoli – as Susanna. Terfel and Croft returned in their roles.

  • IP says:

    I have seen it now, it was not that fantastic. Not as good as the Elektra. But it did its bit in dispelling some recent Salzburg myths: that the staging must be ugly, scandalous, against the work; that it must be someone like Harnoncourt conducting, badly, a bad and silly production; that pseudo-philological ideas must take the wit and drama out of Mozart for an audience of modern sensibility. You know.