Pittsburgh Opera's 'Cosi Fan Tutte' Enchants with Superb Performances, Breezy Staging; Smart Staging and Effective Musical Performances Are Wed in Pittsburgh Opera's Delightful Production of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's "Cosi Fan Tutte," Which Began a Run of Four Performances Nov. 7 at the Benedum Center, Downtown. [Derived Headline]

By Kanny, Mark | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 8, 2015 | Go to article overview

Pittsburgh Opera's 'Cosi Fan Tutte' Enchants with Superb Performances, Breezy Staging; Smart Staging and Effective Musical Performances Are Wed in Pittsburgh Opera's Delightful Production of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's "Cosi Fan Tutte," Which Began a Run of Four Performances Nov. 7 at the Benedum Center, Downtown. [Derived Headline]


Kanny, Mark, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Smart staging and effective musical performances are wed in Pittsburgh Opera's delightful production of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's "Cosi fan tutte," which began a run of four performances Nov. 7 at the Benedum Center, Downtown.

All three -- sadly, only three -- operas Mozart wrote with librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte are masterpieces filled with extraordinary music perfectly tailored to the stories they carry forward. Yet, "Cosi" is a masterpiece with a problematic story, one that Pittsburgh Opera's staging by baritone Sir Thomas Allen goes as far to ameliorate as possible.

The plot is set in motion in the first scene when two young men brag about every aspect of their girlfriends, including their constancy, to Don Alfonso, a much older and cynical man. He quickly challenges them to a bet that will disprove their assertion.

During the rest of the opera, we see these women as pawns in a charade. Allen sets the opera on an Italian beach and creates a breezy staging with lightness that disguises the nastiness of Alfonso's machinations. Alfonso's lesson in what Mozart subtitled "The School for Lovers" begins with the men called off to war. They return in costume as foreigners, Albanians, and successfully switch women for their romantic pursuits.

Allen commanded the stage as Alfonso, a portrayal by turns elegant and decisive, and brimming with knowing details. His hand movements while speaking rapid Italian intensified the rhetoric. He cued musical details, even conducted a bit. His asides to himself (and the audience) were hilarious. And, at 71, his voice retains its smooth richness and still has plenty of power.

Soprano Danielle Pastin, an alumna of the opera's resident artist program, gave a superb performance as Fiordiligi, the more principled of the two women. Mozart's great operas feature inspired and dramatically sympathetic music for his leading ladies, however difficult they are in the required vocal technique. Pastin rose to the challenge posed by Fiordiligi, which requires a soprano with a strong low register. The aria "Come scoglio" in the first act is filled with dramatic leaps up and down, which Pastin handled with aplomb except briefly in a passing note. She was even more effective in her second act aria, "Per pieta."

Mezzo soprano Jennifer Holloway, another resident artists program alum, was superb, too. …

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Pittsburgh Opera's 'Cosi Fan Tutte' Enchants with Superb Performances, Breezy Staging; Smart Staging and Effective Musical Performances Are Wed in Pittsburgh Opera's Delightful Production of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's "Cosi Fan Tutte," Which Began a Run of Four Performances Nov. 7 at the Benedum Center, Downtown. [Derived Headline]
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