Audiences get a lesson in love when Mozart’s Così fan tutte (or The School for Lovers) returns to the Canadian Opera Company stage in 2019. The outlandish comedy follows two couples whose loyalty is put to the test by a meddling mentor looking to prove that all is fair in love and war. The stakes are set, a wager is made, and as sisters Fiordiligi and Dorabella land squarely in temptation’s crosshairs, their fiancés soon learn the steep price of truth at any cost. Così fan tutte runs for eight performances on February 5, 7, 9, 13, 15, 17, 21, 23, 2019.
The performance greets the audience with a gorgeous screen depicting ‘The Two Frieda’s’ (Las dos Fridas) painting by Frieda Kahlo. This painting was completed shortly after her divorce with Diego Rivera. This portrait shows Frida’s two different personalities. One is the traditional Frida in Tehuana costume, with a broken heart, sitting next to an independent, modern dressed Frida. In Frida’s dairy, she wrote about this painting and said it is originated from her memory of an imaginary childhood friend. Later she admitted it expressed her desperation and loneliness with the separation from Diego.
In this painting, the two Fridas are holding hands. They both have visible hearts and the heart of the traditional Frida is cut and torn open. The main artery, which comes from the torn heart down to the right hand of the traditional Frida, is cut off by the surgical pincers held in the lap of the traditional Frida. The blood keeps dripping on her white dress and she is in danger of bleeding to death. The stormy sky filled with agitated clouds may reflect Frida’s inner turmoil.
Canadian stage and screen director Atom Egoyan takes his cue from the opera’s subtitle, framing the opera in a school where love is a subject meant to be examined, dissected, and manipulated. Similar to that of Kahlo’s painting we see the dissection of a love affair between the characters within a school setting ripe for over analyzing, curious students and drama.
There are echoes of ‘go big or go home’ in this performance. Think larger-than-life set pieces that dominate the space, including a large curio cabinet, giant pinned butterflies along with the replica of Frida Kahlo’s self-portrait, Las dos Fridas that will linger in your mind throughout the performance. A true pop up experience that blooms colour into a dreary and chilly winter outside.
Be sure to enjoy the two fast-rising Canadian stars sing the roles of the two sisters. Soprano Kirsten MacKinnon sings Fiordiligi, a role to which she recently brought “the high notes and the low notes…and everything in between” (The Guardian) at the Glyndebourne Festival. International award-winning mezzo-soprano and recent Ensemble Studio graduate, Emily D’Angelo, brings her “vivacious and nimble” voice and “arresting vulnerability” (New York Times) to her role debut as Fiordiligi’s sister, Dorabella.
These women bring out the sauciness in Fiordiligi’s and Dorabella. The fun, flirtation and frivolity are provocative and allows you no opportunity to take your eyes off them. School uniforms, knowing glances and a provocative innocence draws cheeky winks to Egoyan’s “Exotica” film.
American tenor Ben Bliss and German baritone Johannes Kammler make their COC debuts as the sisters’ fiancés, Ferrando and Guglielmo; Bliss as Ferrando. These gentlemen created a space for humour, respites to wonder what their next move will be and provide a vulnerable depth to the innocence as seen in the sisters.
Notable Canadian baritone Russell Braun makes his role debut as Don Alfonso, the instigator at the heart of the opera’s conflict. A true powerhouse with dalliances of darkness. Canadian soprano Tracy Dahl reprises the role of Despina. A true comedienne with the control of an opera veteran.
Lastly, internationally acclaimed conductor Bernard Labadie returns to lead the COC Orchestra through what is often described as Mozart’s most perfect score. Price Family Chorus Master Sandra Horst leads the COC Chorus through the work’s stunning ensemble numbers.
Be sure, to catch “Così fan tutte” before the performance closes. It will sure to enlighten your love affairs in the lead up to Valentine’s day and also pause to reflect on the loves that you have won and lost.
TICKET INFORMATION Single tickets for Così fan tutte range from $35 – $250 with Grand Ring seats available at $290 and $350. Tickets are on sale now, available online at coc.ca, by calling 416-363-8231, or in person at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts Box Office (145 Queen St. W.). For more information on specially priced tickets available to young people under the age of 15, standing room, Opera Under 30, student groups and rush seating, visit coc.ca.