Mozart’s provocative opera, Così fan tutte will burst to life on the stage of the QPAC Playhouse when Opera Queensland presents the third and final instalment of the Mozart – Da Ponte trilogy from 10 to 26 August 2023.
Greek Maestra Zoe Zeniodi returns to Brisbane to lead the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, the cast of six and a chorus of eight in the production directed by Opera Queensland CEO & Artistic Director Patrick Nolan.
Opera Queensland’s Così fan tutte features a cast of leading Australian singers, comprised of Samantha Clarke as Fiorgiligi, Anna Dowsley as Dorabella, Jeremy Kleeman as Guglielmo and Brenton Spiteri as Ferrando, three of whom are returning from seasons in London to be a part of the quartet of young lovers.
Opera Queensland favourites, Leanne Kenneally and Shaun Brown round out the sextet, bringing their experience to the roles of Despina and Don Alfonso.
Mr Nolan said Così fan tutte presented an opportunity to experience opera at its best through the unique relationship between the music of Mozart and libretti of Lorenzo Da Ponte.
“For our audiences, it completes the Mozart – Da Ponte trilogy with Marriage of Figaro presented in 2021 and Don Giovanni in 2018. In Così fan tutte, the final work of the trilogy, we can see the genius in Mozart and Da Ponte’s plotting as it becomes apparent that there are character types that resonate throughout the trilogy. The Count in Figaro, becomes Don Giovanni in Don G and Don Alfonso in Così.”
Così fan tutte questions the idea of romantic love in all its many guises. Is it an illusion or the source of all our happiness?
We meet four young lovers on holiday, the two men being soldiers on leave. Enter the older Don Alfonso who has a cold and dispassionate view of what love is. He suggests to the men that the women would be sure to take other lovers if they had to return to war. The men are offended by such an idea but agree to test his theory, returning in disguise to attempt to seduce the other’s partner.
“The history of literature and art is full of questions about fidelity and the way in which we choose to live our lives with a single partner, or not, and the impact this has on our destiny.” Mr Nolan said.
“The gift of an opera like this is that we can dive deep into the psychology and complexity of what it means to commit long-term to another person.
“The title, which translates to ‘they (women) are all like that”, is a launchpad to a far more nuanced exploration of the nature of desire and commitment.
“We are at a point in history where gender and male – female relationships are under the microscope in a very particular way.
“Così fan tutte is a story that allows us to explore those dynamics and politics in a way that is both joyous and also vulnerable and tender.
“The combination of Mozart’s music and Da Ponte’s words, move us from the ridiculous to the sublime, from the farcical to a reflective, fragile space.
“It’s the tension between those two states of play that makes it such a fascinating story to tell.”
Maestra Zoe Zeniodi said she looks forward to returning to Brisbane to work on Così fan tutte after first collaborating with Opera Queensland in 2022.
Ms Zeniodi has performed in venues including Carnegie Hall, is a member of the prestigious Hart Institute of Women Conductors with The Dallas Opera and, after competing at the La Maestra competition in Paris, was chosen as one of six members of the Maestra Academy for 2022-2024.
“Mozart’s works talk about the most brilliant things – the things we still talk about – relationships, fidelity and what drives us, all set within what is happening within different layers of society, socially and politically,” Ms Zeniodi said.
“I see Mozart’s operas as perfect. Not a wrong-placed note. In Così fan tutte, he has created these incredible harmonies using only six voices to create a piece which is so unique and interesting.
“There are so many emotions and internal thoughts, invisible layers, that can be heard and experienced through the music.
“Every person in the audience can take away what they most respond to on that specific day, depending on what is going on in their own lives.
“I am here to create a space where these emotions can appear so that people can be changed through the performance.”
Set and Costume Designer Elizabeth Gadsby said the production will emulate a 21st Century resort in Italy where the young lovers are holidaying.
“The women have packed for a romantic seaside holiday. There is colour, texture and pattern in their costumes. For the men, we are fashioning the flamboyantly dressed heartthrob,” Ms Gadsby said.
“The trompe l’oeil and architecture reference neoclassical Italian villas from the 1500s. These buildings still exist in the 21st century and can be booked for a stay.
“The playful and romantic space will speak to the rose-tinted glasses of early love, but we then progressively strip away the fairy tale façade as the relationships play out between the characters.
“In the first Act we lean heavily into the scenic technique of hidden symbols and meaning found in trompe l’oeil, creating a full visual world that plays on tropes of the traditional opera set. In the second act, the world splinters and deconstructs with video projection heightening the sense of observing and being observed as we explore the inner psychology of the characters.”
Subscribers to Opera Queensland’s Season 2023 receive a 20 per cent discount when purchasing tickets to two or more performances and priority access to the best seats in the house.
View Opera Queensland’s full Season 2023 program and purchase subscription packages and tickets at oq.com.au
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