New Opera Vlaanderen production takes serious look at love

Summary

An initially comic situation gives way to a serious exploration of the psychology of love in Opera Vlaanderen's new production of Così fan tutte

A Mozart threesome

All three Mozart operas with libretti by Lorenzo Da Ponte appear in Opera Vlaanderen’s current season. Così fan tutte and Le nozze di Figaro revive popular productions devised by Flemish director Guy Joosten in the mid-1990s, which have toured widely ever since. The third is a new take on Don Giovanni, seen as a weak link in his original vision of the operas.

The cycle begins this month with Così fan tutte, in which two young officers, Guglielmo and Ferrando, accept a wager that tests the fidelity of their fiancées, the sisters Fiordiligi and Dorabella. The men pretend to depart for war, then sneak back in disguise and attempt to seduce the women they left behind.

From this initially comic situation emerges a more serious dissection of the psychology of love, exposing the way that sentimental expectations can end in disappointment. 

Joosten sets the tale in Naples, in a large hotel overlooking the restless volcano Vesuvius, sometime in the mid-20th century. Reviewing a recent production in Lisbon, one critic suggested a cross between Death in Venice and Fawlty Towers, which need not be a bad thing.

In the Opera Vlaanderen production, the sisters are played by Cristina Pasaroiu and Maria Kataeva, the officers by Riccardo Novaro and Sebastien Droy. Umberto Benedetti Michelangeli, a specialist in Viennese music, will conduct.

Così fan tutte is followed by the new Don Giovanni, which previewed in Ghent earlier this year. This time, Joosten has set the action behind the scenes at a theatre, a twilight world that can accommodate the eponymous seducer’s activities. The production runs in Antwerp through March 2015, with Alexander Joel conducting.

The cycle is completed in June with Le nozze di Figaro, conducted by Paul McCreesh in Ghent.

Così fan tutte is in the original Italian with Dutch surtitles
14-31 December at Opera Antwerp
9-20 January at Opera Ghent

An initially comic situation gives way to a serious exploration of the psychology of love in Opera Vlaanderen's new production of Così fan tutte.

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