A Critical Guide: Going Out: Breaking with Cosi convention

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The Independent Culture
YOUNG staff producers in opera don't usually have much clout. They assist big-time producers and they get to do revivals, which means inheriting someone else's old sets and costumes and jiggling the rest around them. This might have been the lot of Nicolette Molnar in ENO's Cosi fan Tutte, but it seems she has more clout than most. She took one look at the imitation-Regency backdrop that dominated the 1980 production and dug in her heels. She renegotiated: first a new translation (by Anne Ridler), then new costumes (right), and finally a new, Fifties-inspired design (by an old stablemate, Jacqueline Gunn). A strong young cast has Vivian Tierney and Susan Bickley as the frothy debutantes.

But this will not be a feminist Cosi. 'OK, it's going to be a women's approach,' she says, 'because I can't approach it in any other way. But you'd never describe a production as the 'male approach', would you?' Quite. And while the title Women Are All Alike traditionally provokes sexist guffaws, Mozart's subtitle, School for Lovers, makes way for even-handedness. The men may catch their girlfriends cheating, but they are the ones with their trousers down. (Cosi opens at the Coliseum, WC2, 071-836 3161, on Thursday).

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