Cosi fan Tutte review at Glyndebourne – ‘comedy to savour’
It’s a beautiful sunny day in Naples, but it might as well be the frozen North for two young men who have learned that their sweethearts are not the models of faithfulness they’d imagined.
In Glyndebourne on Tour’s production of Mozart’s Cosi fan Tutte, comedy vies with tragedy as male romantic illusion and female sexual desire are both crushed, and the happy ending has more than a pinch of ambiguity.
This Cosi benefits from an imposing set by Vicki Mortimer that extends from a promenade wall at the back of the stage to a marbled interior at the front, with a massive folding screen door to divide indoors from out. Full use is made of this vast space, thanks to stage direction by former National Theatre director Nicholas Hytner in the original 2006 production and capably continued by Bruno Ravella in this revival, set in the late 18th-century period in which it was composed.
Characterisations are never less than convincing. Jose Fardilha is engaging as a grizzled and cynical Don Alfonso, who persuades two soldiers to disguise themselves as louche ‘Albanians’ to test their lovers’ fidelity. There’s much comedy to savour as Ferrando (Bogdan Volkov) and Guglielmo (Ilya Kutyukhin) flamboyantly attempt to seduce a reluctant Fiordiligi (Kirsten MacKinnon) and a more pliable Dorabella (Rachel Kelly)
While dramatically cohesive, this Cosi is less steady on the musical side, with perceptible lack of coordination between orchestra and singers at times. There are some fine solo moments, however, particularly in tender arias from MacKinnon and Kutyukhin.
But it’s Ana Quintana, as the maid Despina, who steals nearly every scene she’s in. Agile in her acting and supple in her voice, she revels in her role as a maid on the make, happy to sell out her ‘stupid girls’ for a spot of ready cash from Don Alfonso.