Monday 27 November 2006

Review of Cosi van Tutte

On Saturday night we went to see Glyndebourne on Tour at Norwich Theatre Royal performing Cosi van Tutte in Samantha Potter's revival of Nicholas Hyntner's production from the summmer festival.

From the very first notes of the overture, conductor Rory Macdonald and the Glyndebourne on Tour Orchestra indicated that this would be a fleet, period inspired performance. Not that it was so fleet as to be trivial or so period inspired as to be mannered, but Macdonald and the orchestra brought a welcome lightness and crispness to the accompaniment.

Hyntner's production brought a similar modern take on the traditional. It was an essentially period production, but Hyntner takes the drama seriously and gave us real people with real problems. The 4 lovers all reacted with wonderful realism to the various alarums and excursion through which the plot puts them, leaving them at the end wiser and more unsettled.

It helped that the singing was of a universally high order. The palm must go to Aga Mikolay as Fiordiligi but she was simply the first amongst equals with Jenny Carlstedt (Dorabella), Jonas Gumundsson (Ferrando), Dodion Pogossov (Guglielmo) all singing to a high level. You ceased to worry about the technical aspects of the music (quite a compliment as this opera is not an easy sing) and simply enjoyed the way the singers put over their characters and interacted with each other. The interaction was of a high order of naturalism.

The two schemers, Don Alfonso ( Henry Waddington) and Despina (Claire Ormshaw) were of a similarly high level. Both created appealing characters and Waddington's Don Alfonso was not as forbiddingly off-putting as he can be. Ormshaw's Despina was charmingly earthy.

Vicki Mortimer's set was attractively flexible, depicting a neo-classical room with a terrace, but with flexible shutters and screens. This meant that the scenes were easily able to flow into each other.

Andrew Kennedy was billed as singing Ferrando but he was ill. Jonas Gumundsson was also ill, but bravely sang and did wonders with what was obviously not 100% of his voice. I look forward to hearing him again when he is fit.

Hyntner's view of the Albanian disguises was that the 2 men provide the women with something of a dangerous, over the top, slightly rough edge. Pogossov made the most of this and created a most dangerously attractive character. You could really see why the men both appealed to the women and appalled them. Gumondsson was a little understated, but as he was not 100% fit and had come on at the last minute, it is unfair to be too judgemental.

Cosi van Tutte is a long opera, but Hytner, Potter and their cast created a wonderfully involving show which mixed musicality of a high order with involving drama. What more could you want?

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