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09 March, 2012

Tawdry Cosi fan Tutte

Cosi fan Tutte. Mozart. Sydney Opera House. Thursday 8th March 2012, 7.30pm

This performance of Cosi fan Tutte was so unimpressive that we left at interval.  The modern production had been made even worse since its introduction less than three years ago.  The opera is supposedly being performed for a wedding couple’s entertainment.  They sit, widely and awkwardly apart on opposite sides of the stage, watching a comedy about partner swapping!  Very clever (I don’t think!). 

Not one of the voices was worth hearing again.  The translation was passable but much altered I rather think.  Why translate it at all?  Both Come scoglio and Un aura amorosa were sung so far up the stage that we could hardly see the singers, let alone hear their voices.  Why would a serious opera director put the singer at the back of a tight narrow stage and still expect to have audience members at the rear of the auditorium hear anything at all?  This theatre does not have kind acoustics at the best of time. 

To my mind Cosi fan Tutte is not an easy opera despite it being an undoubted classic masterpiece.  However, I find the whole concept of close and devoted lovers not recognising each other because of a moustache or a mask.  It does suspend credibility beyond a moment’s glance … in fact for three long hours of dramatic shenanigans.  Despite the reputed genius scoring, I personally find some of the music trite and tedious.  Is this criticism heresy?  Will I receive a Mozartian fatwah?  Never mind. 

Comments by Andrew Byrne ..