Monday, 26 September 2016

A complicated 'Così' which is not entirely satisfying (ROH/Così)

Mozart, Così (Bychkov cond. Orchestra Royal Opera House)
I struggled to fathom, quite frankly, what this production was driving at much of the time. Was it really as simple a business as saying all (forms of art and enterainment) are just this same? Would any sane director really try to hollow-out Mozart’s most beautiful and profound opera? I think the effort to collapse the distinction between art and entertainment was at the heart of it. Gloger overplayed and over complicated this. It is not clear what was achieved in so doing.
Promotional image/ ROH
The singing was good. Daniel Behle (Ferrando) offered some tender signing which was frequently sublime, even if he was a little quiet at times. The other foolish young fellow was Alessio Arduini (Guglielmo). HE simply smouldered vocally. Both were stunning. The wicked puppet master (or producer in this production) was Johannes Martin Kränzle (Don Alfonso), who had a seriously creepy but amusing presence on stage. The darkness which I think this role ought to have, and certainly easily sustains, was wanting here.  There was, however, much comedy and decent singing.
The female voices were not as well-attuned to their parts. Corinne Winters (Fiordiligi) was very fine but never quite seemed to fit. Likewise Dorabella (Angela Brower) offered technically-good singing but something didn’t gel. Despina (Sabina Puértolas) was the best actor, in a role which offers much scope for good comedy (Danielle di Niese being a memorable example in a Met relay). When she negotiated a cash price with Don Alfonso at the end, this humour was much on display.
The problem was Bychkov. He was disappointed before at Covent Garden. It was under-rehearsed, I suspect, generic without reference to the production, and unsympathetic to the signing. I haven’t forgiven him for the risible Onegin in January. He is on the ‘avoid’ list now. This undermined fine singing and a passable staging which provided visual enjoyment and confusion in equal measures).
So this Così was less than the sum of its parts. But in the end of the day, even a bad Così (which this isn't) is still pretty good. Maybe they are all the same after all.

Overall: unwrapping several levels of complexity would give the production clarity and beauty.


Music - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Libretto - Lorenzo da Ponte
Director - Jan Philipp Gloger
Set designer - Ben Baur
Costume designer - Karin Jud
Lighting designer - Bernd Purkrabek
Dramaturg - Katharina John

Performed by - The Royal Opera


Conductor - Semyon Bychkov
Fiordiligi - Corinne Winters
Dorabella - Angela Brower
Ferrando - Daniel Behle
Guglielmo - Alessio Arduini
Don Alfonso - Johannes Martin Kränzle
Despina - Sabina Puértolas
Chorus - Royal Opera Chorus
Concert Master - TBC
Orchestra - Orchestra of the Royal Opera House

At a glance

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