Opera Scotland

Così fan tutte 1998Scottish Opera

Read more about the opera Così fan tutte

The 1997-98 season for Scottish Opera started with the brilliant idea of another look at the original 1912 concept of Ariadne auf Naxos. That version started with the performance of an abbreviated text of Molière's comedy Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme. This was seen at an early Edinburgh Festival in 1950, conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham, but had not been seen in Scotland since. The new production, which played at the 1997 Edinburgh Festival, was a co-production with Nottingham Playhouse. The conventional revision, with prologue, followed as part of the main season.

That season started with a long Opera-Go-Round tour of The Barber of Seville. This was followed by eight main stage productions: Norma, Rigoletto, Peter Grimes, Tosca, Così fan tutte, Ariadne auf Naxos, The Queen of Spades and La traviata. In addition there were concert performances of Handel's Samson and three performances of a double bill of Param Vir's Snatched by the Gods and Broken Strings.

The rehearsals for this production were the subject of a 30-minute documentary arts programme - the first time BBC Scotland had shown anything on opera in years. The results made rather grisly viewing. The conductor was heard to be getting increasingly frustrated, and the director was heard to confess that he had been unable to think of a way to make this opera meaningful for a young audience. Quite why he was involved in the enterprise was a question no one seemed to have asked.

On paper the cast was excellent. Donald Maxwell rarely sang with his former home company. Lisa Milne and Iain Paton were successful Scottish singers with developing international careers. Claire Rutter was adding another difficult role to the repertoire she had accumulated with Scottish Opera. Michelle Walton was also beginning to take on more challenging parts. Peter Mattei had been an excellent Don Giovanni, and, given the speed with which his career was developing, the company was lucky to lure him back for a second visit. Chief Guest Conductor Nicholas McGegan was a renowned practitioner of Handel's operas, though Scottish Opera employed him for Mozart and Gluck - both of which had been very successful. The performance had little to complain of musically.

The printed programme mentioned the alternative title, The School for Lovers, and in the absence of other ideas, the curtain rose to show the boys in football kit attending a lesson by schoolmaster Don Alfonso, chalking on a blackboard - very 1950s. The girls were then revealed in gymslips from the same period. The set was a pleasant looking curved timber screen, with no obvious purpose. Gags were imposed from without - exploding washing machine wedding presents and the like - and there was little recognition of the depths of emotion implied by the music. McGegan and Mattei never came back, and Maxwell disappeared for a decade..

Performance Cast

Ferrando a young army officer

Iain Paton

Guglielmo another officer, Ferrando's friend

Peter Mattei

Don Alfonso a middle-aged bachelor

Donald Maxwell

Fiordiligi a young lady from Ferrara, engaged to Guglielmo

Claire Rutter

Dorabella Fiordiligi's sister, engaged to Ferrando

Michelle Walton

Despina maidservant to the sisters

Lisa Milne

Performance DatesCosì fan tutte 1998

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

5 Feb, 19.15 7 Feb, 19.15 11 Feb, 19.15 14 Feb, 14.15 17 Feb, 19.15 19 Feb, 19.15

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

24 Feb, 19.15 26 Feb, 19.15 28 Feb, 19.15

Eden Court Theatre | Inverness

3 Mar, 19.15

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