School for lovers

A short note as, in the middle of some personal concentration of drama and upheaval, I have just been to the opening night of Così fan tutte.

It’s a new production, in contemporary garb, directed by Jim Sharman. I don’t normally get to opening nights, and even less of new productions, so I don’t know to what extent I should discount audience reaction for claque-ish elements, but even making a generous allowance for that, the production is a success and even, possibly, a hit.

There is maybe a bit much of this projected-action-filmed-live-on-stage (there is a cameraman who wanders on from time to time). I’m just guessing: is this a thing which has only recently become more technologically possible? How else to explain its repetition as a theatrical device in recent productions?

The opera itself is full of beautiful music including what seem to me to be pastiches by Mozart of himself, albeit at times superior to the originals. There is even a reprise in the production of Figaro’s denunciation of women with the houselights up. My neighbour (we were in row C) got a guernsey on the big screen.

It’s well cast. My only misgivings are about Jose Carbo’s singing as don Alfonso, which starting (I think) out of zeal for the [English, colloquially translated] words, ends up somewhere near musical theatre. I would rather his diction and hence his singing stayed a little closer to the other men’s approach, mostly for musical reasons, some of which start out from the effect of translation on the musical line.

Henry Choo gave a very impressive account of his big aria (Un’aura amorosa). Mozart tenor arias are notoriously treachorous but he really managed to fill out the long phrases. If there was a price in expenditure of vocal stamina (and there were signs of that towards the end of a long evening) it was worth paying.

The title can be translated as “Women are all like that.” (That is, in particular, fickle.) For this, the opera is said to be misogynistic. For intelligent adults, however, whatever it says about women applies to men from the opposite or complementary point of view.

3 Responses to “School for lovers”

  1. maurice giacche Says:

    I last saw Cosi at La Pergola as part of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in the early 90s. Jonathon Miller’s production, conducted by Zubin Mehta and with Lella Cuberli and Cecilia Bartoli in the roles of Fiordiligi and Dorabella respectively, was simply divine.

    Like many, I didn’t quite know what to expect on opening night. After all, Jim Sharman had directed the original Sydney producton of The Rocky Horror Show (as well as the film version of that musical).

    Sharman has given us an intelligent, playful, vibrant Cosi for the 21st century. I felt that the technology that informs much of this producion worked beautifully, especially during Pendry’s histrionic Smanie implacabile and when in act 2 the house lights were raised and the video camera was turned on the audience. Wow!

    In a recent interview Sharman commented that Cosi was a “serious comedy” . Nowhere was this more evident than in act 2 when, after Ferrando and Guglielmo return unexpectedly, the two sisters find themselves cowering at the side of the stage.

    Sarah Noble has described Durkin’s rendition of Per pieta as “brave”, and I couldn’t agree more. And yes, Pendry’s Dorabella WAS hilarious. Carbo did seem a touch uncomfortable singing in English but still managed to give us a great – if somewhat young – Don Alfonso. If Hewett’s tempi were a little fast my tastes – especially eveident in the act 1 trio – they were just right for Sharman’s vision of this opera.

    Along with Aida, this Cosi gave me three of the best hours I’ve spent in the opera theatre this year.

  2. Cosi 2 « Stumbling on melons Says:

    […] By marcellous Concerned at news of half-full houses for Cosi, I gratefully accepted an offer from someone involved in the production of a company rush ticket to […]

  3. Cribbed from Crabbe « Stumbling on melons Says:

    […] a re-run of the last first night I attended, I really am off to Shanghai tomorrow. I have made sure that I will be back just in time […]

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