Among the most highly regarded in the crowded feild of "Cosi" productions on DVD this Gardiner production is blessed with a fabulous cast and peerless direction -both aural and visual>
The first advantage of this film of the opera is Carlo Tommasi’s ravishing decor that accords with what the libretto predicates, conjuring before our eyes 18th-century Naples overlooked by Vesuvius. Then Gardiner’s direction makes all-too-clear the emotional turmoil engineered by Don Alfonso’s cynical plans to test the ladies’ constancy. At all times it is responsive to the music, except when members of the cast march through the stalls and when certain scenes are more sexually explicit than would have been contemplated in Mozart’s age. These hardly matter when so much of the score is underlined with such understanding as regards the participants’ thoughts and feelings.
All the principals are roughly the right age for their roles. Amanda Roocroft’s Fiordiligi is intrepidly sung, her tone always firm and gleaming, and she acts expressively. She is partnered, as originally intended, by a soprano Dorabella. Rosa Mannion proves an apt foil for her sister, and is deliciously flighty when falling for her ‘Albanian’ lover. Incidentally, she is naughtily allowed by Gardiner to take over a couple of phrases from Fiordiligi in ‘Come scoglio’ as if to underline sisterly unity in the face of male intrusion into their grief. Her singing is strong and true.