Vogueing in the middle of an opera? It doesn't really work for me if i'm honest. However in spite of this small blip, the evening was very enjoyable.
Cosi fan tutte is only my second Mozart opera and it made for a very pleasant evening out. Mozart's music is always a completely winner for me. It's simply beautiful and often as scrumptious as a fresh Viennese cream cake! Johnathan Miller's 1995 production for the Royal Opera brings all the action up to present day - think i Phones, Starbucks coffee, laptops and that unfortunate bout of Vougeing. It actually worked really well, even if it didn't succeed in side stepping the odd cringe-worthy moment altogether (again I refer to the Vougeing incident, i'm sorry, but it was just really, really BAD). This owes a lot to the story of the opera itself. Cosi fan tutte essentially translates as 'Women are all the same' - not exactly the most politically correct title, but it was written in the 18th Century remember. Also, I think Mozart was creating an piece aimed more at mocking the stupidity of the male characters in the opera as opposed to one that degrades women. Anyway, I digress. The opera can be updated easily because it's essentially a story of boys vs girls. The two male characters are convinced that their girlfriends will always be faithful to them, but they're mocked and ultimately challenged to question this by their friend, Don Alfonso. He claims that all women are prone to infidelity and will always cheat given the opportunity. And so unfolds a farcical comedy of sorts where the men pretend to have been called up to join the army, leaving their loved ones behind, only then to turn up in disguise (another bug bear of mine, as they come back dressed as Hell's Angels or something awful) in an attempt to seduce their respective partners.
You can imagine what unfolds - it's all very silly and lots of daft tricks are played to try and get the women to cheat on their partners..well...with their actual partners. It all sounds a bit daft, and it is really, but it's still an enjoyable opera to watch . Of course Mozart's music is really the star here, and conducted by Sir Colin Davis, it was especially sumptuous. The orchestra looked like they were loving it from where I was sat. Thomas Allen (County Durham born and bred), playing Don Alfonso was also excellent. He was fun and engaging to watch, as was the soprano playing Despina (Rosemary Joshua who hails from Wales), the assistant to the two central female characters. Miller's production might even be a relatively good choice for a first time opera. The modern setting does make it easier to follow and understand the plot. However, it's not the shortest of operas at 3hrs 30mins and I don't want this to sound like a blasphemy, especially seeing as I love Mozart so very much, but it did drag a bit at times! I seem to find this with Mozart operas. They lack the same level of intensity that the later works of Verdi and Puccini do, and I think this is where me real passion for the genera lies. Cosi fan tutte is a nice one to perhaps have on in the background whilst cooking or reading the Sunday papers (this makes me sound like a proper Granddad. An Uncle I am, an Granddad, i'm not.Yet.).
What was also a winner about this evening was my seat. I paid just £13, yet I was sat virtually on the stage and literally on top of the orchestra pit! It was great to be so close to the action for virtually no cost whatsoever! For reference the seat was in the Stalls Circle. It also proved a great vantage point for a bit of people watching, always a joy at the opera. I was quite surprised to see how many people were catching 40 winks or were doing as I was and staring randomly around the auditorium!
A final word. Cosi fan tutte may be about trying to prove the weakness of women towards infidelity, but to in my opinion it was the med who came out worse here. If i were either Fiordiligi or Dorabella, i'd serious be considering what I was doing with either of the idiots there engaged to in this story. Seriously - sack 'em off girls and find some proper men!
Seat: C99, Stalls Circle Right, £13 ***** (The best value seat I've ever had at Covent Garden. £13 to be sat virtually on the stage. Complete bargain in every sense!)
The Guardian : http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2012/jan/31/cosi-fan-tutte-review
Next Opera: Don Giovanni, 16th February