Film & TV

Film Review: Cosi Fan Tutte

In Mozart and Da Ponte’s scientific investigation of love, a cynical old philosopher prompts two young idealists to put their lovers’ delity to the test.

This film presentation of the Teatro alla Scala production of Così fan tutte was captured live from Palais Garnier, Paris, on 16 February 2017. Even though it is in only two acts, it is a substantial opera and the screening runs close to three and a half hours, which includes one short interval of 10 minutes. It is sung in Italian with English subtitles.

Despite the hype around this new production, it is a challenge to enjoy, but enjoyable it is, and French-Canadian bass-baritone Philippe Sly in the role of Guglielmo is the star. Sly is barely thirty years old but he is already a vocal force. Not only does he possess a silky, booming baritone voice and good looks, he is a talented actor and uses body and face gestures to great effect.

As is often the case, every new production of almost any opera strives for something different. In this case, director-choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker doubled each of the six principal characters with a dancer. Each pair was inseparable and, through movement, each dancer complemented what was being sung by their principal. In some cases, the choreography was not much more than obvious ‘word painting’, but at other times it added substantial extra meaning to the music itself and gave deeper glimpses into the principals. The use of this dramatic device, and the almost bare minimalist staging, did, for this reviewer, make the whole viewing experience somewhat of a challenge. The close-ups that a film version provides of the staging did create additional interest.

Mozart’s score is exquisite but the opera itself is not generous in the number of recognisable arias and choruses that stay on your lips as you leave the theatre. There is however the exquisite Act 1 trio, Soave sia il vento, sung exquisitely by Paulo Szot (as Alfonso), Michèle Losier (Dorabella) and Jacquelyn Wagner (Fiordiligi). The talented cast was rounded out by Frédéric Antoun in the role of Ferrand, and Ginger Costa-Jackson who made the role of Despina her own.

Under conductor Philippe Jordan’s direction, the Paris Opera Orchestra was meticulous in bringing every nuance in the music to the foreground. Jordan conducted from the keyboard, which allowed him to exert precise control of the extended recitative passages. The Chorus is definitely not overworked in Così, but they were in fine and disciplined voice and did what they needed to do.

Reviewed by Kym Clayton
Twitter: @theatrekym

Rating out of 10: 7

This was the second and final screening of Così fan tutte as part of the Palace Opera & Ballet cinema season, presenting the Royal Opera House, La Scala and Opéra National de Paris – exclusive to the Palace Nova Eastend Cinemas.

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