John Deaderick
Special to Prospector

REVIEW: A confectionary delight: Così fan tutte in Grass Valley

This Saturday at Grass Valley’s Del Oro Theatre, Sierra Theaters will present Mozart’s “Così fan tutte” as the latest offering of new season of The Met Opera Live in HD.

Misogyny has never been so much fun. Mozart’s delightful comic opera, loosely translated as “All Women Act Like That,” begins ostensibly as a test of feminine fidelity.

The cynical Don Alfonso charges two young officers, Fernando and Guglielmo, that their fiancées, Dorabella and Fiordiligi respectively, will never prove faithful. The men rally to their intendeds’ defense, and Don Alfonso puts them to the test.

A wager is placed on the young women’s honor. Don Alfonso then interrupts Dorabella and Fiordiligi as they sing passionately of their betrothed. He tells them their young soldiers have been called away to war.

Alas! The men return for farewells in a splendid quintet.

Of course, now we add complications; the maid Despina encourages the women to, shall we say, enjoy themselves in their lovers’ absence as the men are sure to be unfaithful, as they are men. The soldiers reappear, disguised as Albanians (!), and begin to woo the pair. Are you confused yet? Phony suicide attempts follow, protestations of fidelity amid a weakening resolve lead to an incredibly beautiful sextet that ends the first act.

I’ve said this before even though the idea is by no means original, no one, but no one, writes more ravishing music for the voice than Mozart. If you are a fan of truly beautiful (and exceedingly difficult) vocal music, Così is for you. And perhaps surprisingly, beneath all the silliness, the disguises, the plot turns, da Ponte’s libretto does have something serious to say about the nature of love. Maestro James Levine returns after a long absence to conduct an exceptional array of singers in a sumptuous visual production. Think of this as an exquisite bon bon, with just the slightest hint of bittersweet. Enjoy!

John Deaderick is a local theater instructor, director, actor, and the author of “Make Sweet the Minds of Men: Early Opera and Tragic Catharsis,” available at Amazon.com.


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The Union Updated Apr 25, 2014 09:10PM Published Apr 24, 2014 10:22AM Copyright 2014 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.