North East & YorkshireOperaReview

Opera North: Così Fan Tutte – Grand Theatre, Leeds

Music: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Libretto: Lorenzo da Ponte

Director: Tim Albery

Conductor: Jac van Steen

Reviewer: Rich Jevons

Così Fan Tutte is translated into the rather misogynistic ‘Thus Do All Women’ or more contemporarily, ‘Women – They’re All Like For That’. But really, Mozart’s masterpiece is more accurately translated as ‘The School for Lovers’, as both men and women alike are seen as duplicitous, scheming and fickle, in the naughty-but-nice narrative.

The ensemble is perfectly cast and the production makes great use of their talents, both vocally and theatrically. There is much hilarity but also some serious ideas about the nature of love, especially given separation and isolation. It is as if Mozart wanted to sweeten the bitter pill of his message; that love, not womankind, is a transient thing with all of us depending on the presence and actuality of our loved ones. No pen friends or long-distance relationships for Amadeus.

The story stems from the human experiment suggested as a wager by the philosophical Don Alfonso with Farando (Nicholas Watts) and Guglielmo (Gavan Ring). These two rascals purport to be deeply in love with Flordiligi (Maire Flavin) and Dorabella (Helen Sherman)but agree to bedeck foreign costumes and act as strangers wooing their lovers unsuspectingly to find out their true fidelity and faithfulness. Don Alfonso gives them just 24 hours before the fall.

Alfonso (William Dazeley) enlists (by financial means) the help of the two ladies’ servant Despina (Ellie Laugharne) to aid his cunning scheme. Firstly, he must tell the women of their partners’ imminent departure to join the war front. They make much show of sadness and bewilderment, and when their men appear in full uniform, there is a fond but tearful farewell.

The fun really begins with the two men dressed in foreign clothes and paying homage to the beauty of their hostesses. At first, they are turned away, but it isn’t long before the worm of desire works its way into their hearts and minds.

The ensemble is simply superb, really making each note count toward the romantic and comedic capers, while the English libretto is crystal clear. Director Tim Albery is magnificent and masterful and the production benefits from Tobias Hohoi’s huge camera obscura set, making the most of David Finn’s evocative lighting. The Orchestra of Opera North is on top form under the baton of Jac van Steen, in this stunning and scintillating show.

Runs until 26 February 2016| Image: Contributed

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