on the Beach
Dates and Venue 31 August, 7 & 8 September 2009, 7 pm | Vanier Park
Fiordiligi Margo Lavae Dorabella Leah Field Despina Silvia Szadovszki Guglielmo Conner Beaton Ferrando Martin Sadd Don Alfonso Jose Anton Also featured UBC Opera Ensemble and members of the Vancouver Opera Orchestra
Conductor Leslie Dala Director Nancy Hermiston Host Christopher Gaze Set design Kevin McAllister Wigs & hair Elke Englicht
Reviewer John Jane
Così fan tutte (approx. trans. Women are like that) as its English translation suggests is truly Mozart’s most frivolous opera, and as such, makes an ideal companion piece for this season’s Bard on the Beach Mainstage presentation, Comedy of Errors.
This opera has been staged in numerous forms, modern, classical and just about everything in between. Besides having the orchestra on stage with the singers, director Nancy Hermiston has happily gone for a more traditional setting complete with extravagant costumes and scenery – well, perhaps not so much scenery, but when you can see the North Shore mountains in a twilight hue, what more do you need?
The tale opens with two soldiers, Ferrando and Guglielmo indulging in a friendly argument with Don Alfonso over a glass of wine. Don Alfonso claims that women are essentially fickle creatures and is able to prove it. In the following Terzetto La mia Dorabella, La mia Fiordiligi, Ferrando and Guglielmo excoriate the philosopher’s charge while extolling their fiancés fidelity.
Don Alfonso is bent on demonstrating that he is an expert on the human soul and challenges the soldiers to a bet. With the help of Despina, Fiordiligi and Dorabella’s maid, he sets about dispensing to the foursome a lesson on the frailty of human resolve.
Baritone Jose Anton is masterly as the mischievous and scheming Don Alfonso. His signature terzettino Soave sia il vento (Gentle be the breeze) with the sisters is outstanding.
Soprano Silvia Szadovszki is absolutely riveting as Despina. Truly fetching in both her arias, In uomini, in soldati (In men, in soldiers) and Una Donna Quindici Anni (A girl of 15 years) when she admonishes the sisters for their lack of spirit. She pretty much steals every scene in which she appears; particularly when disguised as a doctor and later as a notary.
Margo Lavae (Fiordiligi), Leah Field (Dorabella), Martin Sadd (Ferrando) and Conner Beaton (Guglielmo) all perform well as the “girlfriend -swapping” lovers. Ms Lavae, in particular, shines as the precautious fiancé in her second act aria, Per pieta, ben mio (In the name of pity, my beloved).
Leslie Dala holds the performance together with his usual authority, maintaining a near perfect balance of voices and orchestra.
Mozart is all about wonderful
music and extraordinary singing and the Opera & Arias production
of Così fan tutte certainly gave us that. Bravo!
© 2009 John Jane