Cosi Fan Tutte, composed by Mozart, was first performed in 1790. It is frequently performed and currently holds its place as 14th on the Operabase list of most performed operas worldwide.
Opera North’s production of Cosi Fan Tutte is powerful, vibrant and one of the funniest operas I’ve ever seen. Consisting of a small cast of six, they tell the story of two young women who fall in love with two soldiers, the soldiers are assured their fiancés will stay faithful but an old philosopher Don Alfonso is skeptical and therefore makes a bet with the soldiers that the women will cheat. They accept and pretend to go off to war and then return in disguise to seduce the women and see if they stay faithful.
It’s a melodramatic opera consisting of a rollercoaster of emotions, set inside a huge old fashioned camera, as each act beings the camera opens to reveal the characters inside an 18th century drawing room. The camera, perhaps symbolising our glimpse into their lives and how their world has been turned upside down.
Conducted by Anthony Kraus, Mozart’s sensual score is beguiling and this is conveyed excellently through the orchestration. The orchestra manage to portray the light and shade in the score flawlessly as they address the balance and capture the beauty of Mozart’s music.
William Dazeley plays Don Alfonso, a charismatic philosopher who tries to sabotage the women in order to win the bet. Although never having a solo aria, his portrayal of the charismatic and mischievous philosopher is superb. His vocals are formidable and authoritative, he appears dominant although his intentions are questionable.
Ellie Laugharne plays the maid Despina, who is paid by Don Alfonso to assist him on his plans. She is a fascinating character and her carefree attitude appears shocking to the two ladies she serves. Her encouragement for them to go out and see other men horrify the women. Her vocal performance is sublime, whilst she maintains the traditional operatic tone, her vocals are more vivacious, there is a sense of freedom in her vocal expression.
The two young ladies Fiordiligi (Marie Flavin) and Dorabella (Helen Sherman) bring an element of comedy to the performance. Their dramatic nature as they woe and cry, collapsing all across the stage in despair when their lovers have left them is brilliant. Vocally they both provide a stunning performance, particularly when they’re harmonising together, their stage presence is highly commanding. Flavin’s aria is particularly stunning and it is the first moment in the show that a real poignancy of emotion is revealed and she expertly conveys this through her impeccable characterisation.
Their lovers Ferrando (Nicholas Watts) and Guglielmo (Gavan Ring) magnificently capture their roles as both soldiers and then disguised as seducers. Ring’s baritone paired with Watt’s tenor are a delight to the ear as their lyrical tone create a passionate performance.
Cosi Fan Tutte is a variety of powerful performances, hilarious dramatics and sensational vocals. It’s an animated performance bursting with personality. It is a timeless masterpiece and although elements of the storyline appear silly, the production is done exceptionally.
Cosi Fan Tutte is on at The Lowry until the 18th of March and tickets can be found here.