COSÌ FAN TUTTE Royal Northern
College of Music
Mozart’s Così Fan Tutte for this year’s spring opera production – a piece with
only six characters and a limited role for the chorus. Royal Northern
But director Thomas Guthrie has used his human resources to maximum effect by inventing a variety of silent acting roles and, with designer Rhiannon Newman Brown, created a kind of updated 18th century staging which keeps plenty of people busy scene and prop shifting, too.
And the musical realization, under conductor Roger Hamilton, is also strictly in period, and beautiful to listen to.
‘Girls are all like that’ you might translate the title. The story is about two young men and their sweethearts and whether being in love really means being faithful. An older, wiser friend, Don Alfonso, and a servant, Despina, help the four of them test their loyalties.
There are two complete casts, giving alternate performances, and judging from the one I heard on opening night, the RNCM has a very high-quality line-up for this piece.
Alexandra Lowe (a star of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Street Scene last year) and Isabelle Peters (the amazing Rapunzel in the Royal Exchange’s recent Into The Woods) were perfectly matched as Fiordiligi and Dorabella. The former sustained her tone quality and power throughout the piece, with a show-stopping Per pieta in the second act, and the latter sang with immense distinction and used her acting ability so well you could never ignore her, even when someone else was singing.
Charlotte Trepess – who has already appeared with Opera North as Emmie in their superb Albert Herring in
Leeds three years ago – was
a crystal-clear and skilfully animated Despina, always clearing up someone’s
mess (it seems) as well as singing delightfully from In uomini in soldati
The men were also very impressive. We’ve seen Alexander Grainger (Ferrando) develop at the RNCM over recent years as tenor and actor, and his voice is sounding really golden now; Stuart Orme (Guglielmo) is a very personable and warm-toned baritone; and Neil Balfour had presence and maturity as Don Alfonso.
Further performances on March 11, 13, 15, 17 and 19.