The third act of the Fort Worth Opera Festival opened with Mozart’s famous opera-buffa, Così fan tutte. With minimalist staging, and 1920s-era costuming, mixed in with some wonderfully effective choreography, director David Gately presented the perfect platform for the audience to enjoy both the comedy (absurdity really) of the plot and the gorgeous music of the opera.
The Così cast was generally strong throughout. Mozart calls for many duets, trios, and even sextets throughout the work. The six principals seemed to excel when singing with, and off, one another. The Act I Alla bella Despinetta vi presento sextet was a fantastic example of when each of the performers stood out while perfectly blending together to create a beautiful cacophony — all in the name of comedy.
Fort Worth Opera studio artist Kerriann Otaño nearly stole the show in the highly comedic role of Despina. Her bright and versatile voice was perfect for the soubrette soprano role while her acting had the audience in stitches at nearly every appearance. Tyler Simpson certainly held his own as the wise Don Alfonso; shining in his famous Tutti accusan le donne aria in which he declares that “all women are like that” with the title line, “Così fan tutte.”
Scott Quinn and Paul Scholten in their Fort Worth debuts as Ferrando and Guglielmo (respectively) were a fantastically comedic pair. The duo worked wonderfully together in their duets and created some nice moments in their arias throughout. Quinn displayed impressive vocal agility in the Tradito, schernito cavatina where he realizes that despite his anger, he still loves Dorabella, while Scholten’s lyric baritone rang out in appropriate despair in his Donne mie, le fate a tanti aria in Act II.
Soprano Jan Cornelius and mezzo-soprano Kathryn Leemhuis as Fiordiligi and Dorabella (respectively) worked beautifully in tandem together, adding their part to the comedy of the opera through fantastically synchronized choreography and creative acting. Leemhuis used her lyric mezzo to bring out the ridiculousness of her mock-heroic Smanie implacabili aria in the first act. Cornelius displayed why she is a rising star as her powerful voice rang out over the other principals and the orchestra throughout. Her Come scoglio (Like a rock) aria had the audience erupting in applause, but it was Per pietà rondo that really displayed her vocal versatility and dramatic coloratura voice.
Così highlights one of the under-appreciated parts of this festival — the ability to hear major, main-stage works from different periods and styles in nearly back-to-back settings. The exposure to Bizet’s firmly romantic-era work, beside the earlier classical-period Mozart, all before a work (Silent Night) written in the twenty-first century, is one of the elements that makes the Fort Worth Opera such a special and must-attend event.
- Saturday, May 3
- Sunday, May 11