My blog has quite a lot of posts about Samuel West (Julius Caesar, On Chesil Beach and Darkest Hour) and Charles Edwards (My Fair Lady Australian tour and Henry IX).

Friday, 16 January 2009

Samuel West - Opera - Cosi Fan Tutte

[updated 19 March 2011]

Così Fan Tutte by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (translated by Jeremy Sams)
20 September - 11 October 2003
English National Opera, Barbican Theatre (London)

Nominated for Olivier Award (2004), Best Opera Revival


The Observer
"...West's first opera production benefits as much from his innate theatrical sensibility as his considerable musical credentials. Three pot-plants, some lanterns and ingenious lighting effects are enough for him to create a vivid modern setting in which to explore Mozart's machinations in grippingly original style..."

The Spectator
"...directed with great skill and understanding by Samuel West..."

The Independent
"The touchstone for any director of Mozart's final collaboration with Lorenzo da Ponte is the end. This is the opera about a gruesome experiment on two sisters' fidelity by their fiances, who dress up for a bet and try to seduce them. The women decide they prefer each other's, but convention wants them back under the male thumb. A hasty papering over the cracks, so to speak, is what the 18th Century would have seen on stage. You can't seriously do that now. What, though? Some productions go for unhappy ever after; others allow a straight swap. Samuel West, directing opera for the first time, comes up with something more subtle...It's a wonderfully Shakespearean solution, true feelings set free by disguise, and the beauty is that it's all there in the text..."


Independent on Sunday [link]
Official London Theatre Guide [link]
Guardian [link]
BBC Music Magazine interview|picture


Excerpt from an interview with Victoria Simmonds (Dorabella):
"'...we did a lot of in-character improvisation. Usually you start with the idea of these couples being perfectly suited to each other, and conventionally in love, but that's not often the case in the real world, is it? So Sam threw in this idea that maybe everything isn't comfortable at the beginning, and when the boys do this terrible thing to their girlfriends, we cotton on to at least part of what's going on, and then it becomes a question of what you can get away with if someone lets you.
'It's real life, not a fairytale. We have this idea that there's one person out there who we are meant to be with for life, and maybe there is, but maybe it isn't the one you're with. People do live in denial, don't they? And they do have affairs: it's interesting that both Mozart and his wife were apparently having relationships with other people just before he wrote the opera. It must have had some effect.' West's production, she admits, offers 'quite a bizarre take on the story. We had this rule in rehearsal that if you didn't get what was going on, you put your hand up, and during Act II we were all sitting there with our hands up! But it really does work, and it's interesting to look for the conflicts and contradictions in the story.'"

Bill Rafferty/musicweb-international


m4sure said...

“It’s real life, not a fairytale. We have this idea that there’s one person out there who we are meant to be with for life, and maybe there is, but maybe it isn’t the one you’re with. People do live in denial, don’t they?"

Great quote! I can't believe how much of Sam's work I missed over the years. Thanks for reminding me. lol :)

jellybean said...

you're welcome :)

I like what Sam said in the BBC music mag interview, "It's a bit like A Midsummer Night's Dream without the drugs."