The Metropolitan Opera: Live in HD presents Mozart’s Cosi van Tutte at CMC Breckenridge
Special to the Daily
Mozart’s opera, Cosi van Tutte, “Women are Like That,” disguised as a comedy but with periods of depression, will be broadcast at the Breckenridge Colorado Mountain College on Saturday beginning at 10:55 a.m. The premier production was in Vienna, in 1790, at the time of Mozart’s 34th birthday, and the opera was not initially performed at the Metropolitan Opera until 1922.
Contemporary stage director Phelim McDermott, along with set designer Tom Pye, zap the story from its original production of 18th-century Naples to its current production in a mid-20th-century amusement park in Brooklyn. The artistic bright light staging and vivid costuming is portrayed as a carnival experience, where everyday codes of behavior often may not apply.
A Met Opera promotion reads: “Don’t miss Broadway’s Tony Award winning star, Kelli O’Hara, in McDermott’s clever vision of Mozart’s comedy.” O’Hara will be singing the part of Despina, house maid to the two sisters: Fiordiligi, sung by soprano Amanda Majeski; and Dorabella, sung by mezzo soprano, Serena Malfi. The two sisters are portrayed as faithful fiancées, in love with Ferrando, sung by tenor Ben Bliss, and Guglielmo, sung by baritone Adam Platcheka.
The opera’s story portrays the discontent of Don Alfonso, sung by baritone Christopher Maltman, a cynical bachelor, tired of hearing his young male friends, Ferrando and Guglielmo, bragging about the fidelity of the two sisters with whom they are in love. Alfonso challenges his friends to put their money where their mouths are and follow a plot to prove the infidelity of their lady lovers.
Ferrando and Guglielmo agree to the wager. As part of the plot, they announce that Army service has called them to active duty, leaving the scene at the distress of their fiancées. In the interim, instead of going to battle, they return in impressive disguises as attractive foreigners in search of love at first sight. They proceed to seduce each of the sisters, an act encouraged by the house maid, Despina, professing that “men also are unfaithful.” Fordiligi resists her new lover’s advances; however, Dorabella succumbs, indicating that Alfonso might win the wager.
In the end, as Alfonso’s wager scheme is made known, all is forgiven. The pair of lovers reconcile their despair, joyously joining in marriage. Thus, in the opera “Cosi,” the dark, cruel aspects of romance and sex have been expressed, interspersed with periods of joy.
In reviews, the Wall Street Journal reports the opera to have been performed by “a splendid young cast, vocally solid, and theatrically committed, as their nuanced vocal and stage performances captured the opera’s comedy and pathos.” And a New York Times review expresses: “A winning show, colorful, inventive, but sometimes riotous.” Also acclaimed was the orchestra performance, conducted by David Robertson, at times seeming to serve only as background music for the spirited staging, but overall was “fleet, clean and vibrant.”
Each person attending this performance must decide whether the joy and distress related to female infidelity, as experienced in the late 18th century, continues to exist in some form in this current century, either in society as a whole or as personal experiences. The staging, acting, vocal and orchestral enactment of Mozart’s opera masterpiece may serve as a means in reconciling any present day recurrences. Indeed, the music and vocal expressions are vibrant throughout. Intermission beverages will be provided; those attending are requested to bring their own lunches and snacks.
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