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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “A night at the opera, sitcom-style”

    Like most pre-20th century comedies, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “”Cosi Fan Tutte”” (in English: “”Women are like that””) combines the high-falutin’ gloss of the classical theater with a plot straight out of “”I Love Lucy.””

    UA Opera surely had that in mind when they chose this relatively lesser-known work to open their season. Although “”Cosi Fan Tutte”” is, according to Opera America, the 15th most-performed opera in North America, it ranks far behind “”The Marriage of Figaro”” and “”The Magic Flute”” in the estimation of most Mozart fans. But it’s got enough giddy irreverence that it probably won’t scare off first-time opera-goers.

    In the story, Ferrando and Guglielmo, two pompous soldiers, are boasting of their two fianc&233;es’ utter devotion to them. Enter the old cynic, Don Alfonso, who bets the two that he can prove to them that all women are fickle and unfaithful if given the chance.

    He tricks the two fiancǸes, who have the unlikely names of Dorabella and Fiordiligi, into believing their beloveds have gone off to war. Then, with the help of the maid Despina (the 18th century forerunner of the “”wisecracking secretary”” known to sitcom-watchers everywhere), he tries to get them to fall in love with two mustachioed Albanians (who are, naturally, Ferrando and Guglielmo in disguise).

    While this setup may promise hilarious hi-jinks, the follow-through is somewhat disappointing. We get far too much of Dorabella and Fiordiligi proclaiming their fidelity, and not quite enough ridiculous complications ensuing from the inevitable mixup. The author of the libretto, Lorenzo Da Ponte, could have used a rewrite by Shakespeare, who knew how to craft a sublimely ludicrous farce.

    That said, even Shakespeare never came up with a scene that involved a maid disguised as a doctor brandishing an enormous magnet.

    The UA presentation – directed by Charles Roe – is fine, though one might wish for some more varied and colorful sets. The performances are excellent and do a great deal to brighten up the material. Ja-Kyoung Kuh is superb as the arrogant Don Alfonso, and Meray Boustani is marvelous as the mischievous Despina. One wishes there were more of them. (The Wildcat reviewed the Saturday performance; these roles were played on the Friday and Sunday shows by Ken Ryals and Christi Amonson, respectively.)

    Although it’s far from the great composer’s best work, the score itself is marvelous. As poet Kenneth Rexroth described it, “”a lot of Mozart sounds like a country boy whistling along his way to the old swimming hole.”” There’s not much to add to that.

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