After successful encounters with Don Giovanni and Le nozze di Figaro at Glyndebourne, it would have been understandable if Robin Ticciati had saved Così, the last of the Mozart-Da Ponte trilogy, for his crowning as music director there in 2014. But apparently he has other operas in mind for the Sussex company’s 80th anniversary, so this attractively cast concert performance with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra is as far as he will get with Così for the time being.
Although mentored by Colin Davis, Ticciati’s Mozart comes from a different school – one influenced by the period movement in speed and transparency, and by Charles Mackerras in its stylistic awareness. In that respect the SCO – long a Mackerras favourite – was an equal partner in this performance, much more so than its counterparts at Glyndebourne in recent summers: it profiled the woodwind figures to telling effect and set a standard of execution that allowed Ticciati to sweep seamlessly through successive scenes. This was the most linear Così I have heard – though in his desire to keep things moving, Ticciati sometimes let one tempo glide into another, overlooking the sort of string counterpoints that create telling effects, as in “Soave sia il vento”.
Aside from Mackerras, the other “ghost” at the party was Roderick Brydon, the SCO’s late founder-artistic director, whose Mozart, phrased with more personality than Ticciati’s, is well remembered in Scotland. Friday’s performance coincided with the setting up of the Roderick Brydon Memorial Trust, designed to support promising student repetiteurs and conductors.
Brydon would have been pleased to see his legacy flourish like this. The SCO Chorus was on outstanding form, and the evenly matched cast was of recording quality. Christopher Maltman’s Don Alfonso and Laura Tatulescu’s Despina projected their words like native Italians, and there was just the right level of confidentiality between stage and audience: everyone “acted” as if for real. Maximilian Schmitt sang a sweet, unaffected “Un’aura amorosa”. Adam Plachetka was the personable, handsome-voiced Guglielmo. Sally Matthews’s Fiordiligi made up in emotional intensity and erotic flair for her weak diction. Rachel Frenkel’s soprano-ish Dorabella is as yet a sketch. But this was Ticciati’s show.