Così fan tutte contains some of Mozart’s most ravishing music. Supposedly based on a true story, this comic tale of deception, doubt, devotion and the twists and turns of romantic love, tells how a cynical old man, Don Alfonso, leads two naïve officers into a scandalous wager to prove it is against a woman’s nature to be faithful – ‘Così fan tutte’ – ‘all women are alike’. As the story unfolds we see just how well he succeeds; at first the women are resistant, but then attraction triumphs over virtue…
Set in the period of the early British Raj, our elegant production of Così fan tutte toured to 20 venues throughout the UK and was conducted by Fraser Goulding and designed by Gabriella Ingram.
Swansea City Opera has a well-deserved reputation for bringing musical theatre to the masses – and this staging of Mozart’s comic masterpiece, Cosi Fan Tutte, certainly carries enormous popular appeal.
Not the least of its attractions is that it is sung in English, in a sparkling translation that does full justice to the nuances and cadences of Lorenzo da Ponte’s original libretto……Swansea City Opera are to be congratulated for every aspect of this comic tour de force.
Then, there’s the clever transposition of the story to India and the days of the British Raj, bringing colour, a touch of the mystical and – in a practical sense – making the disguises a good deal more plausible.
All of this would, however, be as nothing without the superb cast – six fine performers, who frequently touch the sublime in putting over what is essentially a farce, if stripped down to the bare bones of plot. Andrew Mayor, recently outstanding in this company’s The Pearl Fishers, relishes the mischievous role of Don Alfonso, the hookah-smoking bachelor, harbouring an ill-disguised streak of comic misogynism. Though his plan to test the virtue of two ladies seems bizarre and rather unwholesome to the modern audience, it is straight out of the stock cupboard of eighteenth-century buffo escapades.
Certainly his wager with Ferrando and Guglielmo that they will witness the infidelity of their respective beloveds, Dorabella and Fiordiligi, if they obey his commands, seems fraught with dangerous complications. But then this is opera and all is fair that concerns the eternal struggle between the sexes.
Laura Meloy, of the lovely soprano, is a stately Fiordiligi, slower to succumb than her more frivolous sister, Dorabella, sung beautifully by mezzo, Gillian McIwraith. Iranian bass, Aris Nadirian, gives his usual flawless performance, in the role of the more boastful suitor, Guglielmo; while what Arthur Swan lacks in animation, as Ferrando, he more than makes up for in the nobility of his lyric tenor .
As is often the case in this opera, the maid Despina – a superb comic turn, portrayed by Alison Charlton-West, in the time-honoured fashion of the servant being more savvy than the master – just about steals the show.
The orchestra, under the baton of Fraser Goulding, accompanied the recitative with great sensitivity, no easy task when parlando humour is everywhere and everything. Swansea City Opera are to be congratulated for every aspect of this comic tour de force.
Andrew Liddle The Public Reviews
Photography by Guy Harrop – http://www.guyharrop.com/
We go to Covent Garden and Glyndebourne and this compares very well! We enjoyed it so much because it was very musical (we are amateur musicians) wonderful orchestra – especially that horn solo & the bassoonist. Wonderfully produced and fantastic singing.
Precious and rare chance to see this (or any!) opera in the area, so happy to travel from 60 miles away. The performance was beyond expectations, singing and acting of such a high standard, & production making this wonderful work so accessible through the English translation & lack of gimmicks or distractions, & the support given by the orchestra and conductor. My daughter came with me wanting (at last, in her 30’s!) to see and opera, and she was bowled over.
I enjoyed the performance greatly. The standard was very high and I can attest to it as a former Trustee of the Royal Opera House.
It is marvellous to be able to see a performance of this calibre in a small town like Mansfield. The Barber of Seville was the first opera I had ever seen – here in 2011 – and both it and this performance of Cosi fan tutte have opened my mind to a different art form. Thank you!
This was amongst the best performances of Cosi fan tutte that I and my wife have seen. Pre-performance talk was excellent – set the context for the performance, both historic, and details of choices for this particular rendition. It was engaging, thought provoking and the show was beautifully presented from start to finish. Hope I can come again.