Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Thank god they aren’t all the same (ON/Cosi)

Mozart, Così fan tutte (Orchestra Opera North cond. Jac van Steen)
After the sheer joy of L’elisir, it was with sorrow that Così fan tutte the following night (10th March), a revival of Tim Albery’s 1982 production, was a rare miss from Opera North. Containing some perfect music and a silly plot, it should make for a fine evening. It did not. 
Máire Flavin as Fiordiligi, Gavan Ring as Guglielmo, William Dazeley as Don Alfonso, Nicholas Watts as Ferrando and Helen Sherman as Dorabella. Photo credit: Tristram Kenton/Opera North
This was presented in English. On this issue of translation I am conflicted, as I do believe it really can work for comic operas, and in the case of Le nozze last year from this company it was a success. Yet for Cosi, the change in sounds caused by the translation made this sound very odd, particularly in the first two acts. And more crucially, even from the front row of the dress circle much of what was sung was inaubidle. So why bother? The orchestral account (cond. Jac van Steen) was rather pedestrian, and not worthy of an opera which of all of Mozart’s surely contains some of the most beautiful, heavenly pieces. Steen has produced some extraordinary music with this orchestra in the past, so perhaps just an 'off' night.
Setting it in a camera obscura might work for some, but not for me. This was made a literal camera. The stage was gloomy. Quite to what end was unclear, but I was rather disappointed by the whole thing, frankly.

Fiordiligi Máire Flavin
Dorabella Helen Sherman
Ferrando Nicholas Watts
Guglielmo Gavan Ring
Despina Ellie Laugharne
Don Alfonso William Dazeley
Creative Team
Conductor Jac van Steen
Director Tim Albery
Set & Costume Designer Tobias Hoheisel
Lighting Designer David Finn

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