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Topping the Charts

Los Angeles
Dorothy Chandler Pavilion
09/18/2011 -  and September 22, 24, October 2, 5, 8, 2011
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Così fan tutte
Aleksandra Kurzak (Fiordiligi), Ruxandra Donose (Dorabella), Saimir Pirgu (Ferrando), Ildebrando D’Arcangelo (Guglielmo), Lorenzo Regazzo (Don Alfonso), Roxana Constantinescu (Despina)
Los Angeles Opera Orchestra and Chorus, Grant Gershon (Chorus Master), James Conlon (Conductor)
Ashley Dean (Director), Nicholas Hytner (Original Production), Vicki Mortimer (Scenery and Costume Designer), Andrew May (Lighting Designer), Paule Constable (Original Lighting Designer)

(© Robert Millard)

Prior to his death in 1790, Emperor Joseph II commissioned the collaborative duo of Mozart and da Ponte to begin work on yet another opera. Were it not for the successful revival of Le nozze di Figaro in 1789, Così fan tutte may never have existed, and although the Emperor lived to enjoy the January 26, 1790 opening, he died the following month on February 20, 1790 prompting a temporary halt of performances until June. Così fan tutte, an ambiguous “black sheep” in Mozart’s collection, has a virtual unknown origin which quickly went out of repertoire due to the opera’s immoral and frivolous aspects. It wasn’t until the early 20th century that Così fan tutte was rediscovered by Richard Strauss. Since then, Mozart’s fifteenth opera has regained favor within the operatic circles and is now frequently performed throughout the world.

Though rather absurd, this drama giocoso, nonetheless, has a timeless relevancy, awash with splendid musical passages. An unfettered setting allows any director wide berth for creativity. This particular production, originally created by Nicholas Hytner, and directed for LA Opera by Ashley Dean, is smart, elegant and cohesive; all the components are top quality.

Recently feted in the 2011 September issue of Opera News, Aleksandra Kurzak makes a dual debut not only with LA Opera, but as Fiordiligi. This is one young lady to watch. As the stalwart anchor anyone can rest assured without duress for Ms. Kurzak commands the gyrating difficulties in her two big arias, “Come scoglio” and “Per pietà” with unrestrained finesse while simultaneously retaining stage presence and heartfelt emotion. No vocal challenge is too great for her: the trills impeccable, the coloratura spectacular. She is the total package. Alongside Decca’s newest contract star is Romanian Ruxandra Donose playing the part of Dorabella. Her vulnerabilities and weaknesses for the opposite sex make her an adoring and treasured sister.

(© Robert Millard)

Così fan tutte would not be complete without the male pairing of Ildebrando D’Arcangelo’s Guglielmo and Saimir Pirgu’s Ferrando. D’Arcangelo has an alluring and mesmerizing appeal, both vocally and physically. He whips up sexual tension without crossing the line, and unveils an appropriate dash of testosterone. Saimir Pirgu’s musically buoyant flair adds virile delight to propel the action forward and his “Un’ aura amorosa” is a quintessential heavenly flight.

(© Robert Millard)

Mozart’s opera would not be complete without the scheming antics of Don Alfonso and Despina. Lorenzo Regazzo’s portrayal as the ring leader relieves the comedic tensions in the most appropriate fashion, although the jabs and goading get a bit tiresome; nonetheless, he finds himself in the right place at the right time. Finally, there’s Roxana Constantinescu’s mischievous Despina who’s an absolute treasure. She not only sings with velvety softness, her impish delights are like “icing on a cake.”

Fortifying character development is lighting, costuming and scenic design. Mortimer’s two disciplines are sophisticated yet simple, augmenting the onstage action without upstaging while Andrew Mays sheds the appropriate lighting to accentuate the emotional tension at hand.

James Conlon’s conducting is par excellence. Nothing can top this Così fan tutte. A “must see.”

Christie Grimstad



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