Così fan tutte
Director: Michael Haneke
Writer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (music) / Lorenzo Da Ponte (libretto)
Cast: Anett Fritsch, Paola Gardina, Andreas Wolf, Juan Francisco Gatell, Kerstin Avemo, William Shimell
Part of: Wiener Festwochen
Ferrando (Juan Francisco Gatell) is engaged to Dorabella (Paola Gardina) and Guglielmo (Andreas Wolf) to Fiordiligi (Anett Fritsch) and both couples are very much in love. They are staying with Don Alfonso (William Shimell) and his wife Despina (Kerstin Avemo). Don Alfonso is convinced of the fickleness of women and Ferrando and Guglielmo agree to a bet with him: They will dress up as strangers and try to seduce the fiancées of the other guy. But will that end well?
This production of Così fan tutte is extremely slick – from the stage design to the costumes, from the acting to the music, everything is just really glossy and smooth. For me, it hit a couple of wrong notes (no pun intended), but it was beautiful.
Part of the things that didn’t work for me that well were due to our seats: Ticket prices for this show were pretty high, so we went with pretty much the cheapest option (which was still not very cheap). That meant we sat very high up and very far right. So we didn’t really see the front right corner of the stage – which was a pity, because that’s exactly where a lot of the play took place, on and around a sofa that stood there. The left front corner that we saw very well was pretty empty.
But other things would have been weird, no matter where we sat. For example, in this version Don Alfonso and Despina are married – usually she is his servant. But the libretto wasn’t changed, of course, which meant that you continuously had Alfonso talking to Despina like a servant. And for an old misogynistic asshole, that’s probably no bad characterization, but it left a very sour taste in my mouth.
Haneke went with the most depressing version of the ending that you could possibly fabricate (yes, I know, of course he did). I’m a little torn about this because for once the fuckery of all these “comedies” of mistaken identity was pointed out and not handwaved away with a happy ending. But on the other hand it was so depressing. A little more levity would have been nice.
But there were a lot of things to love about the play. Above all its slickness that slipped the play’s problems past you until it’s too late and everything is fucked up. The stage design, equally slick, bright and dark all at once, much like this opera itself. And the costumes, a fascinating mix of contemporary and period pieces.
I just didn’t get warm with the music and without appreciation for the music, there’s a lack of connection that can’t be replaced by anything else in an opera.