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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Così fan tutte, K. 588
Pavol Breslik (Ferrando), Stéphane Degout (Guglielmo), Thomas Allen (Don Alfonso), Maria Bengtsson (Fiordiligi), Jurgita Adamonyté (Dorabella), Rebecca Evans (Despina), Royal Opera Chorus, Stephen Westrop (Chorus Director), Christopher Willis (Fortepiano continuo ), Royal Opera House Orchestra, Thomas Hengelbrock (Conductor), Jonathan Miller (Director/Set & Lighting Designer), Sabine Lemaître (Costume Designer), Robin Lough (Video Director)
Recording: Royal Opera House, London, England (September 7, 9 & 10, 2010) – 178’
Opus Arte OA 1331D (or Blu ray BD 7286D) – Format: 16:9 – Audio Format: LPCM 2:0 – DTS HD Master – All Regions (Distributed by Naxos of America) – Booklet in English – Subtitles in English, French, German, Japanese and Korean

Revived several times since its 1995 premiere, this production of Così fan tutte by world-acclaimed director Jonathan Miller has become a staple of the Royal Opera House (ROH) repertoire. Miller loved transposing opera stories to present times. We remember his Rigoletto set in New York’s Little Italy district or his La Bohème set in the 1930s. With Così fan tutte, Miller moves the action to the technological present, among executives and city girls (impeccable suits for men and formal outfits for women, all signed Giorgio Armani), with extensive paraphernalia of contemporary times: cellphones, laptop, camouflage fatigues for Guglielmo and Ferrando, filmed by a CNN crew as they depart for war under the United Nations’ insignia, to later wearing Harley Davidson bikers’ attire, with chains, Bandana headwear and Santiags. Despina is depicted as an always busy senior management assistant, gladly dipping a doughnut in a Starbucks cup (of hot chocolate, we assume). The set is minimalist, consisting of a rather bare room with white walls, a cheval mirror, and a shabby, worn-out sofa, leaving ample space to focus on the characters.

As incongruous as all the above ingredients may sound when applied to a story written in 1790, Jonathan Miller’s endeavor is an accomplished success. Nothing in this staging is unwarranted or gratuitous. Everything superbly falls in place and it is no surprise if this production remains dear to the ROH audience

The singing cast is beyond expectations. All six protagonists are admirable actors and singers. Their acts are packed with delicious humor, farcical and yet witty. And spectators spontaneously laugh. Voices fit the parts and the singing is irreproachable. All receive a standing ovation at curtain calls, including the orchestra under the magic wand of Maestro Hengelbrock.

This presentation is undoubtedly a major step forward in the history of the staging of Così fan tutte. In the words of Don Alfonso himself: “Bravi, bravi! Ottimamente! Che abondenza! Che eleganza!

Christian Dalzon




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