Cosi Fan Tutte
Considering the opera’s featherweight, comic plot, about two young soldiers who conspire to test the fidelity of their girlfriends, Mozart’s three-hour Cosi Fan Tutte is much ado about nothing;---but such "ado!!"
Along with Wagner’s "Tristan und Isolde," "Cosi Fan Tutte" may be the greatest opera ever composed with respect to continuous melodic invention. Written in High Classical style, the melodies are charming, and seemingly simple. Yet the score contains contrapuntal and rhythmic complexities which require a group of tremendously talented singers to negotiate, not to mention the challenges of comic acting. Boston Lyric Opera has gathered just such a cast for its "Cosi...," a production that succeeds on every level.
Though modestly sized, the singing voices displayed a broad spectrum of attractive vocal timbres. As Fiordiligi, silvery soprano Caroline Worra sang with passion and dead-on accuracy. The voice lacked fullness in the middle and low registers, but, by the second act, assumed a rounder quality which helped in the monumental aria "Per Pieta," As her flirtatious sister Dorabella, mezzo Sandra Piques Eddy was terrific. Her voice was even and rich, and she displayed a true comic flair. Singing the part of Ferrando despite an announced indisposition, tenor Paul Appleby fared quite well. If his sweet, supple tenor sounded this good in a compromised state, one could only imagine it at full steam. Rounding out the solo quartet, handsome Matthew Worth made an excellent Guglielmo. Not only does he possess good looks, but an unusually warm, resonant baritone as well.
In a real coup, BLO landed legendary bass/baritone, and internationally renowned recording artist, Thomas Allen to perform the buffo role of the sly instigator Don Alfonso. Not only did he sing wonderfully, but his vast experience in the theater was evident from his authoritative stage presence and flawless comic timing. As his accomplice, the acerbic maid Despina, Phyllis Pancella was equally wonderful.
Never frenetic or overdone, the stage direction was classic in feel, and all the comic gags were perfectly timed. The bare-boned sets supported the drama adequately, and the simple costumes managed to evoke an 18th century feel. As the production was sung in English, the action was easy to follow, though numerous supertitles were also supplied.
The performance was exceptionally well led by music director David Angus. From the overture onward, his conducting was rhythmically taut and brisk in tempo, which, considering the length of the opera, was justified. Yet he was able to relax in the slow lyrical moments, allowing his singers ample room singers to spin out Mozart’s exquisite vocal lines.
The uniformly, excellent singing and high production values of BLO’s "Cosi Fan Tutte" made for an enormously satisfying evening of musical theater. Performances continue through March 24.
Don’t miss it.
For more information, visit the Boston Lyric Opera website.