Cosi fan tutte

13-14-03-MC-D-0022

Cosi fan tutte is a hilarious comic opera ridiculing a big bubble of grand wows of commitment to eternal love and how it all burst into nothing on the slightest temptation. At the time it was made, it was met with resistance because its direct thrust at the morality of hypocrisy was perhaps too radical in its directness and humour. This may not be the most inspiring piece for an experiment in Regietheater simply because it is such a good comedy and any attempt to intervene may take away from it rather than uncover anything new that has not already been on its face. It appears that the production under the directorship of Atom Egoyan had that unfortunate effect. The subtitle was “A School for Lovers”, which like everything else has a tongue in cheek, was taken in its literal meaning and the two female key characters are two schoolgirls, while the story takes place as a lesson with the recurring theme of butterflies. The end result is a stage that suffers from clutter and kitsch topped with the presence of Frida Kahlo’s painting Two Fridas, which if I may say is a confusing mismatch. While this opera abounds in vaudevillian humour, Frida Kahlo is the remotest opposite from anything vaudevillian, burlesque or humorous. As a painter and a person she invokes pain and suffering  and I cannot relate anything about her to Cosi fan tutte.

The charming team of young singers accompanied by the veteran Sir Thomas Allen saved the show by being true to Mozart. It was felt in the audience that Paul Appleby, Robert Gladow, Layla Claire, Wallis Giuntta and Tracy Dahl actually had fun performing this piece. However, the orchestra could have sounded a lot crisper and fresher than it did last Saturday night at the COC.

A perfect opportunity to give the aging megadonors of Toronto what they really want—a night to enjoy the “crinolines and cleavages” one more time—is missed for a lukewarm and foggy attempt to say something when there is nothing to say except to laugh and have fun.

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