Mozart's Così fan Tutte -WNO Touring Opera

Welsh National Opera's new production of Mozart’s not-entirely-comic opera Così fan tutte aka The School for Lovers directed by Max Hoehn, takes the title literally by setting it in a school, and casting the four young lovers as sixth-formers.

            Sophie Bevan as Fiordiligi.

This opens comic possibilities but in the end it tends to limit the opera and diminish the painful experiences that all four lovers are put through by the sinister old voyeur Don Alphonso (José Fardhila). He claims to be educating them but is really manipulating them for his own twisted gratification. He wrecks their relationships, and leaves all four with lingering guilt perhaps forever. Trust, innocence and the friendship between comrades and sisters have all been destroyed. 

We are meant to be fully aware of the irony of Alphonso's male chauvinist motto "Così fan Tutte" i.e. "All women are slags, as we men know because we sleep around with them all the time!"

Sophie Bevan triumphed as the troubled and conscience-stricken Fiordiligi (pictured above) while Kayleigh Decker excelled as the more effervescent Dorabella. Both James Atkinson as Guglielmo and Egor Zhuravskii as Ferrando got applause for their solo arias. Rebecca Evans gave a fine comic performance as the cynical Despina, Alphonso's accomplice. As conductor last night we had the young and energetic Frederick Brown.

Close your eyes to the stage cluttered with giant cut-outs of male and female organs (dating from the distant days when schools taught the truth that sex is binary, how quaint), just lie back in your seat and enjoy the music with which Mozart, at the absolute pinnacle of his powers, clothed this sad tale - and it is a philosophical  tale to be compared with Voltaire's Candide. 

We are very lucky in Oxford to have opera companies of the calibre of WNO and Ellen Kent visiting the New Theatre. The magnitude of their undertaking to put on such productions and transport them around the country should not be underrated, and I was glad to see the performance last night sold out.


WNO Chorus