Cosi fan Tutte review

ZESTFUL AND WITTY MOZART

COSI FAN TUTTE

Classical Opera & The Mozartists at Birmingham Town Hall ★★★★★

No director's fatuous concepts to endure or intrude between audience and performers in this zestful and witty concert performance. Even with conductor Ian Page using only a modest chamber orchestra, plus continuo harpsichord, the singers' movements were severely restricted on the Town Hall's small stage. The singers rose to the challenge – every nuance of inflexion, vocal colouring and minute physical gesture gained added significance. Rebecca Bottone's show-stealing Despina exemplified this. Just two sets of comic spectacles were needed for her doctor and notary impersonations, the voice and a delightfully mobile face – minx, mischief maker and hard-bitten realist by turn – did all the rest.
Martha Jones (Dorabella) gave a winningly sung and wryly comic È amore un ladroncello and since she was a late replacement for the indisposed Emily Edmonds, the crucially important teamwork with Ana Maria Labin (Fiordiligi) was commendably seamless. Labin was labouring under a chest infection, announced just before the start, but one would never have guessed that given her fearless Come scoglio. And what a glorious combination they made with the sonorous Richard Burkhard – a mockingly acerbic and manipulative Don Alfonso – in Mozart's sublime trio Soave sia il vento. Benjamin Appl, tall and elegant with a beautifully smooth voice, was a preening Guglielmo revelling in his Donne mie, la fate a tanti. Matthew Swensen (Ferrando) began tentatively but grew in confidence and his Un'aura amorosa was exquisite. Page ensured the music zipped along and the playing was spot on – the woody and tootling wind playing a delight.
Norman Stinchcombe

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