Opera Scotland

Così fan tutte 2013English Touring Opera

Read more about the opera Così fan tutte

Mozart's ambivalent tragi-comedy was the familiar work in English Touring Opera's visit to the 2013 Perth Festival, teamed with rarities by Donizetti (The Siege of Calais) and Verdi (Simon Boccanegra). It was greeted by a packed house and an audience that thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.

As with the previous ETO staging, which came to Perth in 2005, the settings, this time by Samal Blak, were elegantly simple, with eighteenth century period costumes. Subtlety of effect was achieved by means of lighting. The chorus remained in the wings throughout, and for most of the evening the only furniture was a large swing, broad enough for two, which dangled from the flies centre stage. Attention was therefore concentrated on the emotional interplay of the six characters, and only occasionally did the comedy seem a little broad for this wonderful human comedy.

A further similarity with 2005 was less fortunate, in that the soprano billed for Fiordiligi, Laura Mitchell (Scottish Opera's recent Pamina), was ill and unable to appear. As with 2005 the company had a well-prepared cover ready to go on (though not herself fully fit), and Lorna Bridge sailed through the evening without a hitch, giving a confident account of both her demanding arias. At one point in 'Come scoglio' she stood on the swing and swayed back and forward, an effective way of indicating that while her vocal technique might be firm as a rock, little else was.

The casting of the other ladies was particularly strong, with the welcome return of last year's Rosina, Kitty Whately, as Dorabella.  Unusually, nowadays, her second aria, 'L'amore è un ladroncello' was cut, but she still presented a fully-rounded characterisation. The other soprano, Paula Sides, had already given an outstanding performance two nights before, in The Siege of Calais.  Her reading of Despina was pitched well, with doctor and lawyer impersonations generally avoiding tiresome exaggeration.

The men were all excellent, without, perhaps presenting any great sense of individuality. Anthony Gregory managed to present the full range of Ferrando's fury and despair in the recit leading up to 'Tradito, schernito', and Toby Girling also delineated the changes in attitude from cocky victor to furious cuckold very effectively. Richard Mosley-Evans made Alfonso unusually sympathetic, almost a guru figure, for the young men, at any rate.

One unusual feature of the production was the handling of the emotional heart of the plot - the duet 'Fra gli amplessi' in which Ferrando at last seduces Fiordiligi. This is usually played in total privacy, but this time they were watched with increasing unease by the four other characters - particularly unsettling in the case of Guglielmo. This provided an interesting gloss on the work.

James Burton's conducting and continuo playing added to the pleasure of the evening, and the orchestra produced many enjoyable touches.

Performance Cast

Ferrando a young army officer

Anthony Gregory

Guglielmo another officer, Ferrando's friend

Toby Girling

Don Alfonso a middle-aged bachelor

Richard Mosley-Evans

Fiordiligi a young lady from Ferrara, engaged to Guglielmo

Lorna Bridge

Dorabella Fiordiligi's sister, engaged to Ferrando

Kitty Whately

Despina maidservant to the sisters

Paula Sides

Performance DatesCosì fan tutte 2013

Map List

Perth Theatre | Perth

18 May, 19.30

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