Magazine article Musical Opinion

Cosi Fan Tutte

Magazine article Musical Opinion

Cosi Fan Tutte

Article excerpt

Welsh National Opera

What an utterly graceless production that clashed with the sublime music and the generally strong vocal performances at the Millennium Centre.

Set in 1960s Penarth but populated with Butlins/Maplins red coat caricatures, Gladys Pugh lookalike red coats etc the concept was initially quite pleasing. But then, like an episode of Hi-De-Hi, 50 minutes was enough. I wanted to throw a Kiss Me Quick hat on the stage so they could get it over with. Not even Mozart's exquiste score, her in the hands of Daniele Rustioni, made the experience pleasurable.

When Newport's Neal Davies, as Don Alfonso, appeared in a tartan suit as Don Alfonso and the suitors put on hook-nose disguises, it was obvious relative newcomer director Benjamin Davis and his designer Max Jones had opted for a Commedia dell'arte convention, which we now know as panto and Punch and Judy. But in case we didn't get it, he then presented an actual Punch and Judy show and, like a hammer to crack a nut, adultsized versions of the Crocodile, the Policeman and even the Baby and string of sausages appeared.

Updating to post 1966 (when Butlins Barry Island opened) made little real sense anyway. The idea that Fiordiligi and Dorabella are virtuous young ladies, who have to be seduced, falls flat seeing they are planning a weekend of seaside frolics with their boyfriends at Botticelli's Gelateria. The comic high point, the maid Despina, sung by Claire Ormshaw, in disguise using a magnet to cure Guglielmo and Ferrando proved as dull as a Bullins talent show. …

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