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Cosi fan tutte: Opera Holland Park
‘The play is charming, and both men act their parts very well.” The comment from Don Alfonso (Nicholas Garrett) over the deception being practised by his friends Ferrando and Guglielmo on their respective girlfriends, the sisters Dorabella and Fiordiligi, sets the tone for Opera Holland Park’s delightful revival of Mozart’s Così fan tutte.
This is a good-looking production that stresses throughout the essential theatricality of what is being shown. Director Harry Fehr achieves this by seating a group of onlookers, clad in 18th-century finery, on either side of the sunlit sphere of action (designer Alex Eales). These are composed of members of the chorus and the principal players in their ‘off duty’ moments.
The quartet of lovers are as expertly sung here as in any production I have seen. The acting, too, is of a very high order as we watch the sisters (Elizabeth Llewellyn and Julia Riley, above) steadily succumbing to the sexual advances of the ‘strangers’ in their home. The men, of course, aren’t strangers, at all but Ferrando (Andrew Staples) and Guglielmo (Dawid Kimberg) back in disguise — having feigned a departure to war — to test Alfonso’s claim that women are by nature unfaithful. Their maid Despina (sparky Joana Seara) never doubts this.
Under conductor Thomas Kemp, with the City of London Sinfonia, the production continues till July 7. Box office: 0300 999 1000 (operahollandpark.com).