Cosi fan tutte to me was like a girls movie night at the opera. My friend and I were full of wistful sighs over corsets, eye rolls over relationship silliness, swoons over dashing (yet infuriating) men, endless giggles and pensive frustrations over wondering who will end up with who. All in all- a great night out! Trust Mozart to tell a good story hey?
Cosi fan tutte translates in this opera to “women are all the same”- a point exasperatedly pointed out to us by one of our leading men towards the end of the opera. The music is beautiful, the songs sparkling and the set stunning. Set in Naples the girls are situated in a beautiful marble house overlooking the ocean. Their military men foolishly enter into a bet with their friend Alfonso (Richard Anderson) that the ladies could never be anything less than absolutely faithful to them. So begins an elaborate charade directed by Alfonso who attempts to prove that the girls could fall for Ferrando (David Portillo) and Guglielmo (Andrew Jones) in disguise. *eye roll* oh boys.
Nicole Car and Anna Dowlsey are absolutely perfect as the protagonists- it seems so easy for them to take on the roles of good-hearted (if not a little prone to potentially bad choices) sisters whilst calmly belting out beautiful arias. Hardly ever have I been in a crowd to ardently passionate about a performer- but if the thunderous cheers and screams of “bravo!” after each solo is any indication the crowd is completely infatuated with Car. And rightly so. Her “Come scoglio” (“Like a rock”) is flawless.
Another particular standout is Taryn Fiebig in the not so humble role as Despina the ladies maid. Witty and hilarious Despina persuades the ladies to think of themselves a little more (whether that be a good or bad thing) and argues that they have the right to “go recruiting” in the absence of their men. Providing a wonderfully amusing rendition of “In uomini, in soldati, sperare fedeltà?—”In men, in soldiers, you hope for faithfulness?”.
There’s actually something quite ideal about having a smaller cast of only six on stage too, something that brings you closer to the characters and their story than you would find with a more hectic stage. It’s a nice change.
So does it all end happily ever after? Well I shaint give it away, but here’s the last lines of Opera Australia’s plot summary that I particularly enjoyed- “everyone sings in praise of those who can, through reason, negotiate life’s whirlwinds”.
Enjoy a delightful evening at the opera with Cosi fan tutte at the Sydney Opera House until August 13th. For more information visit www.opera.org.au/
The reviewer attended the performance on the 19th July.
Photo credit: Prudence Upton