I have seen no more than three operas in my life. The one I saw on Saturday night, at the invitation of Burnaby Lyric Opera’, was “Cosi Fan Tutte”, directed by Matthew Bissett, an old friend. Keep these facts in mind in reading this post.
“Cosi Fan Tutte” translates to “Women Are Like That”. It’s got a Shakespearean plot of disguises, jilted lovers and some climatic marriages, and it’s about as sexist as it sounds. It’s a mid-career opera buffa by ol’ Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
I wish I could comment on the technical or artistic abilities of the performers, but I’m not really qualified. The acting style of opera always seems broad, but I gather that that’s a convention of the medium. Another convention is how the singers constantly repeat lines of dialogue. It’s very odd, for a man more accustomed to musicals.
Matthew has always been a playful director, and this production showcased his talents. The libretto was in English, and set in contemporary Canada. It replaced the traditional “men fake going off to war” plot with “men fake going to pro-hockey tryouts in Regina”. The set was dominated a gigantic–maybe 25″–cell phone on one side of the stage, which hilariously featured text messages between the sopranos and their suitors. I thought some jokes were left on table regarding the giant phone–couldn’t somebody have updated their Facebook status, search Google Maps or even sung an aria through their phone camera?
I’m obviously neither an opera lover nor an aficionado. As operas go, this one was comical and enjoyable and, contrary to stereotype, I could understand at least three-quarters of what people were singing. “Cosi Fan Tutte” closed last Saturday, but be on the look out for future projects from Burnaby Lyric Opera.
It’s actually an opera-heavy month, as this Saturday I’m going to “Nixon in China”. I don’t plan to become a regular opera-goer, but I understand this to be a modern masterpiece, so I thought I’d better take my medicine.