San Francisco Opera presents Mozart’s delightful opera buffa, Così fan tutte, this weekend – but not quite the period piece that most of us know. This co-production with Opéra de Monte-Carlo, staged by Jose Maria Condemi, and based on a concept by John Cox, brings the opera forward from 18th century Naples to a Mediterranean beach town on the eve of World War I.
The libretto of Mozart’s opera was written by Lorenzo Da Ponte, the composer’s third and final collaboration with the librettist responsible for both Le nozze di Figaro and Don Giovanni. The opera was first performed on 26th January, 1790, at the Burgtheater in Vienna, Austria.
In this performance, filmed at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco in 2013, the artists are all making their role debuts. French-Canadian bass-baritone Philippe Sly sings Guglielmo, and Italian tenor Francesco Demuro takes the role of Ferrando, while American soprano Ellie Dehn sings the role of Fiordiligi – betrothed to Guglielmo – and German mezzo-soprano Christel Loetzsch is her sister Dorabella – the fiancée of Ferrando.
The action of Così fan tutte – which translates loosely as “Women are like that” – revolves around the joys and heartaches of young love. The cynical philosopher Don Alfonso – sung by Italian bass Marco Vinco – suggests to Guglielmo and Ferrando that, in their absence, their fiancées would betray them. The two servicemen protest vehemently, so Don Alfonso proposes a wager with them, to prove how fickle women can be, which results in the young men – aided and abetted by Despina, the sisters’ feisty maid (sung by American soprano Susannah Biller) – disguising themselves as potential suitors and paying a visit to Fiordiligi and Dorabella to flirt with them, and to find out whether or not their fidelity can be guaranteed.
With Mozart’s sparkling score, Così fan tutte is a lighthearted work of love and laughter.
Nicola Luisotti – Music Director of SF Opera at the time of the recording – leads the San Francisco Opera Orchestra in Mozart’s Così fan tutte, on Saturday and Sunday, February 13th and 14th. The opera is performed in Italian with English subtitles.
Free opera streams are viewable on demand with registration at sfopera.com, beginning at 10.00 am (Pacific) on the first streaming date through 11:59 pm the following day. For more information, visit the San Francisco Opera website.
Information sourced from:
San Francisco Opera program notes