Co-Opera’s Cosi Fan Tutte delighted a sold out crowd on its first night at the Thomas Edmunds Opera Studio in the Royal Adelaide Showgrounds. First performed in 1790 Vienna, Co-Opera brought new life and enthusiasm to this Mozart favourite.
The Showgrounds proved a surprisingly apt venue given the mixed ambience of culture and comedy Co-Opera fostered. The performance was Bring Your Own cabaret style. The glacial night air prompted patrons to run from their cars to the studio, many of them juggling picnic baskets.
The chattering audience helped themselves to platters of food both sweet and savoury, good naturedly sharing corkscrew bottle openers with their neighbours. It created a social and contented atmosphere, though it was perhaps less enjoyable for those who forgot to bring a plate of nibbles.
Musical director Brian Chatterton greeted the crowd and introduced the cast with an amiable speech. He warned that while the majority of the opera was in English, a few select arias sounded irresistibly beautiful in the original Italian. “So don’t think you’re having a stroke, you’re actually hearing another language,” he joked.
The orchestra was small, with only two violins and the conductor doubling as pianist. However, the talented musicians managed to create bright and resonating sounds that perfectly accompanied the cast.
The plot of Cosi Fan Tutte is one of mistaken identity, good-natured deception, and tongue in cheek humour. Best friends Ferrando and Guiglielmo (portrayed by Branko Lovrinov and Joshua Salter) decide to test their fiancés’ fidelity by masquerading as new exotic suitors – which in this production saw Lovrinov and Salter wearing fake mustaches and parachute pants.
Thanks to the encouragement of troublemakers Don Alfonso (Rod Schultz) and the handmaid Despina (Grace Bawden), the hapless fiancés Fiordiligi and Dorabella (Sidonie Henbest and Bethany Hill) quickly succumb to the new suitors’ charms.
The singers’ enunciation and projection was impressive, especially in such a young cast and without the aid of any microphones. These are talented performers – a true pleasure to watch.
They also proved their comedic skillset – Bawden adopted a perfect dry humour for Despina. When a brokenhearted Dorabella contemplated drinking a bottle of Fluffy fabric softener, the entire audience broke out in laughter.
We must once again thank Co-Opera for making opera an enjoyable experience for the masses. Audience members young and old drove home humming Mozart last night.
Co-Opera will next present Mozart’s The Magic Flute on June 13th and 14th.
Reviewed by Nicola Woolford
Venue: Thomas Edmonds Opera Studio Royal Adelaide Showground, Goodwood Road, Wayville