Cosi fan tutte translates as “that’s what they all do”, or to put it in language we’ve all read a lot of recently, “they’re all at it”. Written in 1790 and transferred in David McVicar’s production to the 19th century, this story of abused trust still resonates in 2009 as we count the cost of trusting the advice of cynical opportunists.
Peter Savidge’s Don Alfonso proved more than a little sinister as he engineered a life lesson for love-struck Gugliemo (Ville Rusanen) and Ferrando (Joel Prieto), aided and abetted by mercenary housekeeper Despina (sung by Marie McLaughlin on sparkling form).
From time to time the singers were in danger of being overpowered, especially in their oddly frequent moments of singing upstage.
On Alfonso’s advice the young men disguise themselves and set out to seduce each other’s sweethearts to test the girls’ fidelity. Caitlin Hulcup’s flighty Dorabella succumbs with predictable ease, while her sister Fiordiligi displays a token amount of torment and some fine coloratura runs before she rids herself of temptation by giving in wholeheartedly. Realising that their fiancées are fickle (and completely oblivious to the irony of their situation), the two men despair beautifully. Prieto’s lamentations allow him to show off his fine tenor voice in a role which is usually somewhat unrewarding.
The great question that Cosi poses is that of how we respond after deception has occurred and trust been betrayed.
Tobias Ringborg kept Scottish Opera’s orchestra lively and the score was never allowed to drag, but from time to time the singers were in danger of being overpowered, especially in their oddly frequent moments of singing upstage.
Yannis Thavoris’ design placed the action firmly on a balmy Mediterranean coast, complete with azure sea and symbolic rocks in the background. It’s the perfect landscape of the summer fling, where chilly rejection of love must surely melt beneath the sun and the music.
The great question that Cosi poses is that of how we respond after deception has occurred and trust been betrayed. Can we really forgive and forget, or are we doomed to share the cynicism and self-interest of Don Alfonso? Mozart and Da Ponte offer no answers – only a charming score and plenty of food for thought.
Cosi fan tutte: Festival Theatre, Edinburgh Fri 19 Jun 7.15pm, Sun 21 Jun 4.00pm, Thu 25 Jun 7.15pm, Sat 27 Jun 7.15pm