COSI FAN TUTTE
by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
libretto Lorenzo da Ponte.
King’s Head Theatre, to 03 April
115 Upper Street, Islington, London N1 1QN
7.30pm March 15, 7pm March 17, 19, 21,23,25,29 & 31.
3pm March 27, April 2 & 3.
Runs 2hr 15 mins One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7226 8561.
Review: William Russell 13 March.
A welcome return to enjoy.
After a two year absence opera is back on the stage of the King’s Head with this sparkling version of Mozart’s tale of women – and men – behaving badly in a version devised by director Paul Higgins. Melodious as it is the problem has always been the plot in which two men decide to test whether their fiancés will be faithful should they go away. They pretend to go to war – they are in the army – and return disguised as a couple of Albanian Lotharios. The women succumb, but as the title says – women are like that.
The reality is the men are a couple rotters and the happy ending always sits uncomfortably as the resolution of the plot. Some productions manage to imply that the women have sussed out what the men are up to and go along with it to humiliate them which makes it all slightly more palatable to today’s sensibilities. Higgins has no truck with that.
He sets the action in a reality television show with Don Alfonso, the chief plotter, as the presenter in a hideously shiny suit, a Jeremy Kyle to the life. It works a treat and means at the end when the couples are reunited they do just what participants on the Jeremy Kyle show usually do and have to be separated by the massive security man.
It is funny, very well sung, and Elspeth Wilkes, the musical director, provides splendid piano accompaniment. Steven East is a sonorous show host, and Caroline Kennedy sparkles as the women’s conniving maid, Despina, who knows what is up and is out to make a bob or two. The problem is that when the Lotharios arrive, disguised as a couple of flashily dressed tourists, and start wooing Dorabella and Fiordiligi, they end up with the wrong girl, which, when disguises are dropped, causes ructions. Laurence Panter and Jevan McAuley make a handsome pair of lovers, although they actually look better in disguise in spite of their fright wigs, while Stephanie Edwards and Ailsa Mainwaring do full justice to the women deceived.
Don Alfonso: Steven East.
Ferrando: Laurence Panter.
Fiordiligi: Stephanie Edwards.
Despina: Caroline Kennedy.
Dorabella: Ailsa Mainwaring.
Guglielmo: Jevan McAuley.
Security Guard: Freddie Merrydown.
Director: Paul Higgins.
Musical Director: Elspeth Wilkes.
Designer: Faye Bradley.