Cosi fan tutte, Grand Theatre, Leeds
Wednesday 13 October 2004
Tim Albery is lucky man. He is one of the most inventive and thoughtful opera directors around, as almost anyone who saw his splendid
Ring cycle for Scottish Opera will confirm.
Tim Albery is lucky man. He is one of the most inventive and thoughtful opera directors around, as almost anyone who saw his splendid Ring cycle for Scottish Opera will confirm. But, even so, it was generous of Opera North to let him have a second stab at Cosi fan tutte, which he first staged for them only seven years ago.
That production was deemed unsatisfactory by several critics - though not by me - and has not been seen since. The new one is less blatantly radical, and will probably, therefore, command wider acceptance.
It has some rather conventional touches, but, overall, it is a deeply satisfying staging of the most modern, ambivalent and psychologically probing of the Mozart-Da Ponte operas.
Our involvement was hugely helped by the fact that the opera was sung in English, and in a witty and fluent translation - presumably the one used last time by Ruth and Thomas Martin, although it is not credited in the programme.
And diction was generally excellent. This, even more than Figaro and Don Giovanni, is an opera of ensembles rather than arias, and the ensemble singing was superb, balanced and integrated. The conductor, Yves Abel, making a welcome return, directed a crisp but sensitive performance.
The orchestra was on top form, and there was an admirable balance between pit and stage. There was some modest, not excessive, decoration of the vocal line.
Among the singers, Malin Bystrom, last year's Manon, was an outstanding Fiordiligi. Ann Taylor's sound was a little lacking in flexibility as Dorabella. Iain Paton and Roderick Williams as their lovers were both admirable. Claire Wild as Despina was stylish, if relatively conventional. Peter Savidge was a brilliantly convincing Don Alfonso.
At the start, the stage is dominated by a vast wooden box-camera obscura.
When its front lifts off, we discover the two sisters living inside it. Perched on a ladder, Don Alfonso, master of this contraption, can observe through a spy hole.
Tobias Hoheisel, the designer, has produced a plain 18th-century interior and simple costumes to match. No attempt is made at a literal and detailed period representation. Only Don Alfonso remains firmly in the 18th century. Sliding doors are used effectively, with the doorways forming picture frames when appropriate.
The ending was, as it should be, full of uncertainty and unease. Don Alfonso is visibly appalled at the devastation his light-hearted wager has produced. Despina is ashamed and angry; the lovers are confused, distressed.
Nothing in relations between these men and women can ever be the same again.
Touring to Newcastle, Salford, Leeds and Nottingham to 13 November
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days
Oscar voter speaks outfilm
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Scarlett Johansson new band 'already hit with legal complaint' from another The Singles
- 2 Husband and wife die holding hands within hours of each other after 67 years of marriage
- 3 What color is The Dress, white and gold or blue and black? An eyewitness gives a definitive answer
- 4 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
- 5 'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Wolf Hall finale, review: Simply brilliant TV
Blade Runner sequel: Harrison Ford confirmed to return with Denis Villeneuve directing
All fiction follows one of six basic storylines, according to new research
House of Cards season 3 premiere, review: Has Frank Underwood gone soft?
Scarlett Johansson new band 'already hit with legal complaint' from another The Singles
Oscars 2015: Birdman beats Boyhood as Eddie Redmayne and Patricia Arquette win big - as it happened
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
Aqsa Mahmood branded a 'disgrace' by her parents after claims she recruited three UK girls flying to Middle East
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit