The Metropolitan Opera HD broadcast on Saturday, April 26, at 10:55 a.m. at Colorado Mountain College, Breckenridge, will be Mozart’s comedy buffo opera “Cosi Fan Tutte” (“Women are Like That”). Tim Pare, of the Lake Dillon Theatre Company, and Cecile Forsberg, of the National Repertory Orchestra, will present the epilogue and prologue series at 10:30 a.m. prior to the performance.
The opera, staged in 18th century Naples, opens with a discussion between two young Neapolitan officers, Ferrando (sung by Matthew Polenzani) and Guglielmo (sung by Rodion Pagossov) reciting their love for the sisters Fiordiligi (Susanna Phillips) and Dorabella (Isabel Leonard). Overhearing this interchange, a graying bachelor friend, Don Alfanso (Maurizio Murano), based on what he has seen in the world, doubts that their trust in the fidelity of these women will be forthcoming. A bet and plan of action ensues in which Ferrando and Guglielmo will attempt to prove Alfanso’s perception to be false.
The scene changes to a garden in which Fiordiligi and Dorabella are sharing their love and devotion for each of their fiances. Don Alfanso suddenly appears announcing that their two lovers will be soon departing with their army regiment. Ferrando and Guglielmo soon appear, dressed in traveling clothes, bidding an emotional farewell, in keeping with the terms of the bet. The feisty maid Despina (sung by Danielle de Niese), also part of Alfanso’s plan, comforts the two now-abandoned sisters to pursue other avenues of love.
In the ensuing scenes, Ferrando and Guflielmo return to the action, now disguised as two Albanian nobles, set out to woo each other’s fiancee. After being initially rejected, each of the sisters in later scenes finally submits to the advances of the nobles, in the end leading to the signing of a marriage contract. Both Ferrando and Guglielmo not only lose Alfanso’s bet but their betrothed partners, as well.
The incriminating words, sung just before the finale by the three men, chastising the infidelity of women, may reflect 18th century sensibility. However, throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, this focus on fiancee swapping was considered too risque, and this opera was rarely performed until after World War II. The feelings of our broadcast audience can be voiced in a live post-opera postlude discussion session. Opera “buffo” (comedy) returned at the finale when, as disguises were removed, the lovers recognized the trick and were joyously reunited.
This Met HD production has also been celebrated by the return of James Levine to the podium after several years of declining health. Although this is a long opera, Mozart’s music as performed by the orchestra, and the style of lilting melodies and bel canto singing by the performers, make up for any weariness one may experience in following the interweaving plot. “This was prime Levine: a lithe, energetic, transparent account of Mozart’s miraculous score, brisk but not rushed, polished and profound,” was one comment.
As mentioned, live prelude and postlude discussions will be presented, along with snacks and beverages provided during the intermission.