Saturday, 16 June 2018

Second view: Cosi fan tutte at Opera Holland Park conducted by George Jackson

Mozart: Cosi fan tutte - Nick Pritchard, Eleanor Dennis - Opera Holland Park (Photo Robert Workman)
Mozart: Cosi fan tutte - Nick Pritchard, Eleanor Dennis
Opera Holland Park (Photo Robert Workman)
Mozart Cosi fan tutte; Eleanor Dennis, Kitty Whately, Nick Pritchard, Nicholas Lester, Sarah Tynan, Peter Coleman Wright, cond: George Jackson, dir: Oliver Platt; Opera Holland Park
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on 14 June 2018 Star rating: 4.0 (★★★★)
A return to Opera Holland Park's Cosi fan tutte, with a new conductor

It is always fascinating returning to productions for a second view. Second time around, your perceptions of the piece have changed somewhat, but also the performance has bedded in and the cast has further developed their relationships. We returned to see Oliver Platt's production of Mozart's Cosi fan tutte at Opera Holland Park on 14 June 2018 [see my review of the production's premiere]. Whilst the cast was the same, with Eleanor Dennis and Kitty Whately as the sisters, Nicholas Lester and Nick Pritchard as the young men wooing them, and Sarah Tynan and Peter Coleman Wright as Despina and Don Alfonso, there was a new conductor, George Jackson, who is associate conductor for the production, with the City of London Sinfonia.

What came over particularly with this performance was how cast had developed as an ensemble. Whilst the production does not neglect the more serious issues, it was clear that the singers were having great fun and this enjoyment communicated itself to us in the audience. As the sisters, Eleanor Dennis and Kitty Whately were two complementary characters, with the Eleanor Dennis as the somewhat sharper, more serious of the two whilst Kitty Whately displayed a nice liveliness of character. Yet there were similarlities too, and the two characters were closer than in some productions. Dennis displayed some lovely evenness of tone in the passagework of 'Come scoglio' whilst Whately's appealing yet luxuriant tone combined with a nice sense of style.

Mozart: Cosi fan tutte - Kitty Whately, Nicholas Lester - Opera Holland Park (Photo Robert Workman)
Mozart: Cosi fan tutte - Kitty Whately, Nicholas Lester - Opera Holland Park (Photo Robert Workman)
Disguise was a key element of the production, after all we start in a tailor's shop and the young men, Nicholas Lester and Nick Pritchard, start off in 18th century outfits with white faces and huge wigs that are as much a disguise as the Albanian costume.
In fact, these Albanian disguises are far more practical and comfortable, you sense the young men unbending. The by-play between the four lovers was fascinating, particularly in the first act when the 'right' couples tended to gravitate towards each other and the two men were each anxious watching their beloved with another man.

Nicholas Lester got his Act One aria which is perhaps not the most interesting of pieces, but Lester real brought out the detail of the character of the piece. The Act Two duet for Lester and Whately gave us some elegant expressive singing. Nick Pritchard sang 'Un aura amorosa' with finely honeyed tone, and created an appealing personality. His final aria was a powerful yet lyric performance, and the final duet between Pritchard and Dennis created a strong climax to the performance, with some very stylish accompaniment from the orchestra.

Sarah Tynan was ever the charming yet sparky Despina, a performance of knowing delight easily capturing us with the lively dialogue. She was aptly partnered by Peter Coleman Wright's rather old roue of a Don Alfonso.

Mozart: Cosi fan tutte - Nick Pritchard, Nicholas Lester, Sarah Tynan, Peter Coleman Wright, Eleanor Dennis, Kitty Whately- Opera Holland Park (Photo Robert Workman)
Mozart: Cosi fan tutte - Nick Pritchard, Nicholas Lester, Sarah Tynan, Peter Coleman Wright, Eleanor Dennis, Kitty Whately - Opera Holland Park (Photo Robert Workman)
This was George Jackson's single performance in the pit, so there was no significant scope for major change yet he clearly brought a real sense of style to the proceedings. The overture was notable for the contrasts between the grand chords and the shapely wind, with the faster sections very active yet controlled. This sense of crisp control and pointed orchestral accompaniment was notable throughout the performance combined with a nice sense of flow to the music, and shapely phrasing throughout . The Act One finale had an admirable sense of controlled and suppressed excitement until the very end. In the Act Two serenade we got to appreciate further the lovely solo instrumental playing.

It was a pleasure to return to the production and find plenty to enjoy, and to see how it had developed. This review was written without revisiting my original review, so that it reflects very much our experience on Thursday 14 June.

Elsewhere on this blog:
  • Sei solo: Bach's partitas and sonatas for violin alone from Thomas Bowles (★★★½) - CD review
  • Io la Musica son: Francesca Aspromonte in Prologue  (★★★★★) - CD review
  • Aldeburgh Festival: Britten and Bernstein side by side in Suffolk (★★★★★) - concert review
  • Young Artists performance of La Traviata at Opera Holland Park (★★★½) - Opera review
  • Musical beauty: new production of Lohengrin at Covent Garden  (★★★½) - Opera review
  • A little bit of magic: Miah Persson in Richard Strauss' Capriccio at Garsington Opera (★★★½) - Opera review
  • Coloured lights: Kander & Ebb's The Rink makes a triumphant return (★★★½) - musical theatre review
  • Genial conversations with old friends : I Musicanti at St John's Smith Square (★★★½) - Concert review
  • Writ Large: Peter Phillips & the Tallis Scholars in Spem in alium (★★★½) - Concert review
  • A visit to 1760s London: Ian Page and the Mozartists' Mozart in London (★★★½) - CD review
  • Home

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