You write the reviews: Cosi Fan Tutte, Castleward Opera, Strangford lough, County Down
Friday 06 June 2008
This is Tom Hawkes's eighth production of this opera in almost 40 years. He tells us that he has returned to it because he still finds something new to say, and Mozart never bores him. He goes on to prove his point by factoring in some deft, unexpected touches in his direction, right up to the last bars of the score.
This is a well-endowed, infectious production of Mozart's comedy. The set (a piazza that doubles as the sisters' apartment) is decked out in the green and red of the Kingdom of Italy. All the costumes, except for the two male disguises, are a delight to behold, and are influenced (the ladies' outfits in particular) by Edwardian designs. A larger than usual orchestra of around 40 pieces is finely paced and responsive to the vocal lines. The conductor allows six splendid voices to find their measure of Mozart's sublime but demanding music, and then weighs in and supports them to the hilt.
But it is the vocal talents that must help us to understand and appreciate this great opera. Despina and Don Alfonso, unrewarding roles even in the best productions, here find assured and credible voices for the buffa and the patter.
The Australian mezzo Catriona Barr, despite singing a bit above her natural range, brings depth and breadth to the younger, more impressionable sister, Dorabella. Her acting is the best on view. When crossed, she can scowl like a Valkyrie. When things are going her way, or she is giving in to temptation, her charm and wile recall a mature Norina, or Musetta. Her contribution to this production, and her understanding of her character's music and persona, are impressive.
We suspect, however, that Mozart was in love with the elder sister, Fiordiligi. After all, this opera's most beautiful music is reserved for her. It's not just her mighty "Come scoglio..." with its exacting range, from low chest notes to high head notes, but also the incomparably finer Act II solo "Per pietà, ben mio, perdona..." with its octave-and-a-half leaps, underpinned by some of the young maestro's most inspired writing for horns and woodwind. In this role, the Scottish lyric soprano Lee Bisset masters her character's temperament with great panache. Her connection with the more complex and astute sister (the Brünnhilde of the piece), her rapport with the emphasis that Mozart gives her, and the scope that he leaves her for character interpretation all mark her voice out as something quite special.
To 21 Jun (028 9263 9545) www.castlewardopera.com)
George Fleeton, university teacher, Belfast
E-mail your 500-word review of an arts event of your choice to firstname.lastname@example.org. For terms and conditions, see www. independent.co.uk/freelanceterms
'At times I thought he was me'film
Review: One Direction, Fourmusic
Review: The World of Ice and Firebooks
Film More romcom than S&M
Review: The Imitation Gamefilm
Comedy...to show her mastectomy scars
TVNetflix gets cryptic
TV review A moving film showing kids too busy to enjoy their youth
Books Not even a Man Booker prize could save Richard Flanagan from a nomination
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 'Not suppost to cry': 9-year-old lists the worst things about being a boy
- 2 To help fuel their propaganda machine against the poor, our government has now decided to redefine the word 'welfare'
- 3 Anti-gay hate preacher accidentally tweets 4,000 followers cartoon clip of him 'confessing' to be a 'homosexual sodomite'
- 4 Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
- 5 Grayson Perry: London needs affordable housing because 'rich people don't create culture'
Christmas 2014: The three most intriguing celebrity panto appearances
Lee Evans announces his retirement from comedy on The Jonathan Ross Show
Iggy Azalea responds to Eminem rape lyrics: 'I'm bored of old men threatening young women'
Angelina Jolie confirms retirement from acting: 'I've never been comfortable on-screen'
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking leaked footage from Lana Del Rey rape video
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
Revealed: How the world gets rich – from privatising British public services
Myleene Klass: Ed Miliband 'strikes back' by comparing UK's need for Labour's mansion tax to Hear'Say track