Così fan tutte - English Touring Opera, Hackney Empire, 7 March 2013
English Touring Opera's new production of Mozart's most inscrutable opera relishes its confectionery charms but also hints at the darker undercurrents beneath. Emphasising the symmetries of the score, the young couples are upholstered in matching rococo finery like pairs of identical twins. Flanking the stage are the two mirror-image panels of Samal Blak's frugally efficient set.
Is Così fan tutte a comedy or a tragedy? It's not the farce sometimes presented. Director Paul Higgins limits the laughs to those emerging naturally from the music. So when the young men finally face the truth about their fickle fiancees, their realisation has devastating impact.
Richard Mosley-Evans' Don Alfonso is no puppetmaster; he merely sets the story's wheels in motion. Its ending is inevitable, as Paula Sides' cynical Despina knows from the start.
Laura Mitchell, Kitty Whately, Anthony Gregory and Toby Girling were well-matched in the central roles, and put barely a foot wrong. The ensemble numbers were an especial delight. With orchestra and score trimmed to the lean essentials, James Burton's conducting proved nimble and effective.
Production photos (above) Robert Workman
Curtain call photos (below) www.intermezzo.typepad.com