Arts Reviews: OPERA: Cosi Fan Tutte ; Grand Theatre Leeds Oooo9

Article excerpt

TIM ALBERY is lucky man. He is one of the most inventive and thoughtful opera directors around, as almost anyone who saw his splendid Ring cycle for Scottish Opera will confirm. But, even so, it was generous of Opera North to let him have a second stab at Cosi fan tutte, which he first staged for them only seven years ago.

That production was deemed unsatisfactory by several critics - though not by me - and has not been seen since. The new one is less blatantly radical, and will probably, therefore, command wider acceptance.

It has some rather conventional touches, but, overall, it is a deeply satisfying staging of the most modern, ambivalent and psychologically probing of the Mozart-Da Ponte operas.

Our involvement was hugely helped by the fact that the opera was sung in English, and in a witty and fluent translation - presumably the one used last time by Ruth and Thomas Martin, although it is not credited in the programme.

And diction was generally excellent. This, even more than Figaro and Don Giovanni, is an opera of ensembles rather than arias, and the ensemble singing was superb, balanced and integrated. The conductor, Yves Abel, making a welcome return, directed a crisp but sensitive performance.

The orchestra was on top form, and there was an admirable balance between pit and stage. There was some modest, not excessive, decoration of the vocal line. …