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Cosi Fan Tutte review at St Saviour’s Church, St Albans – ‘pace and panache’

Dulwich Opera Company's Cosi Fan Tutte. Photo: Alex Brenner

Dulwich Opera is a touring company established by two young singers, Loretta Hopkins and David Fletcher. Its production of Cosi Fan Tutte will be traversing the country again in the autumn.

Lively and convincingly detailed, it benefits from the hand of an experienced director, Ptolemy Christie, who wisely keeps the standard comic-opera shtick to a minimum.

Having adhered closely to da Ponte’s ambiguity-ridden libretto, in the final moments he introduces a twist: the duped sisters, Fiordiligi and Dorabella, both give the cynical and manipulative Don Alfonso a good slap and walk purposefully offstage, leaving their lovers behind.

In Leah Sams’ design, with its readily portable décor of garlands and bistro furniture, the costumes suggest the 1930s and Ferrando’s and Guglielmo’s disguise evokes Ottoman style.

In vocal terms, the six singers perhaps don’t comprise an ideally-matched ensemble, but all of them give astute performances, making pointed use of the text – the opera is given in Italian with surtitles.

The Latin thrust of Robert Barbaro’s stylish Ferrando contrasts with the relative reserve of Fletcher’s soft-grained baritone as Guglielmo, while there is little sisterly resemblance between the mellow hues of Phillipa Thomas’ Dorabella and the incisive tones of Hopkins’ confidently articulated Fiordiligi.

Honey Rouhani sparkles as the sassy Despina (genuinely hard to recognise when she enters as a jump lead-toting ‘doctor’) and James Williams makes a suavely resonant Don Alfonso.

There is no orchestra, but Janet Haney handles a piano reduction of the score with pace and panache.

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Small-scale touring show that does justice to the spirit and music of Mozart’s ‘school for lovers’