17 November 2012

Così Fan Tutte at the Normansfield Theatre

I like it when I have easy decisions to make, and this was as easy as they come - a Mozart opera in a quaint local theatre in aid of charity.

The opera was the easy comedy Cosi Fan Tutte (a.k.a. Women are Like That), the theatre was the Normansfield, part of the Langdon Down Centre in Teddington, and the charity was the Down's Syndrome Association.

In case you missed the connection, Down's Syndrome is named after Dr John Langdon Down whose house has become the Langdon Down Centre.

This was a semi-concert performance in that the set did not change but the singers did move around the stage a little and acted out the scenes as well as sing them.

I like this halfway-house approach and, to be honest, often think that the elaborate sets, fancy costumes and abundant extras add little to the experience.

The music was provided by a solitary piano, that's the black blob at the bottom of the screen. I was in the front row and found the piano a little loud at times but the people at the back had to be able to hear too. I was still able to follow the singing easily and, through that, the story.

It felt a little odd watching an opera without surtitles even though they were not needed.

Cosi Fan Tutte tells the tale of two pairs of lovers. A friend of the men says that all women are fickle in love and says that he can prove it. A large bet is made. The men then say that they have to go to war only to reappear in disguise. They then try to seduce each other's girlfriend with some degree of success, though it all ends very happily.

The performance was marvellous.

The small cast of six all sang and acted well. I particularly liked the women's chambermaid, who was part of the plot to trick them, as the mischief shone through he face. She won the acting prize (or would have done if there had been one) while the older of the two ladies won the singing prize (ditto).

It was all rather nicely done, a humorous story played to make the most of the comedy while also letting the music show off its beauty.

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