Saturday, 20 February 2016

The course of true love never did run smooth

And so to the opera. In fact I've been two nights in a row, which is excessive even for me, although not unprecedented. First up was 'Cosi fan tutte' by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, a young composer who shows much promise. The work wasn't performed much for many years because it was considered immoral; to modern eyes the failing of its story is more due to misogyny than lack of morals. The title means roughly 'women are all the same', an irritatingly immature attitude for a major work of art to profess. The music is sublime though and, as usual, was done full justice by the orchestra of Opera North and the singers. The production was a revival from a decade or so ago, with all the action taking place in a giant camera obscura. This isn't as odd as it sounds and works rather well, but I can vividly remember the tutting from behind me years ago when it was first staged. As an aside there is also a moment to please all those of you - those many, many of you - who appear to have a thing for women dressed in male military attire.

All that the performance of Donizetti's 'L'elisir d'amore' has in common is that it is also a revival, it made me think of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' (1) and it seems to set out to demonstrate that women are fickle and shallow. So quite a lot in common then. Notwithstanding Mozart's genius, my own taste runs much more to bel canto and so I actually preferred this. Plus it's funnier and has a hot air balloon. Again this is a fine interpretation, with everyone on top form, although I'm going to pick out the female chorus for particular praise.

Returning to Mozart, he and/or Da Ponte might have had somewhat dodgy views on sexual equality, but they did at least give us a character, Despina, who overtly challenges the idea that the rich and idle are entitled to hot chocolate while the workers have to make do with the aroma. Right on, sister.

(1) I have read that the plot of 'Cosi fan tutte' more closely resembles 'Cymbeline', but despite a quote from that play appearing on this very blog less than a fortnight ago I've never actually seen it. There is a production on a the Globe this summer, so perhaps I'll have a chance then.

No comments:

Post a Comment