Pacific Opera Project’s production of Mozart’s “Cosi fan Tutte” is hilarious and creative from start to finish. Billed as Mozart “with a twist,” it was delightful to see how this supercilious story of romantic entanglements written in 1790, plays out perfectly with the backdrop of the Old South ala “Gone with the Wind.” Suddenly the machinations of plot, which can seem thin and trivial when executed too seriously, come to life as Commedia Del Arte under the adroit direction of co-founder Josh Shaw. The Chamber orchestra directed by P.O.P.’s other co-founder Stephen Karr was also a perfect match to the tone of the piece.
We have seen this masterpiece done by bigger companies with bigger orchestras weighted down with insinuations of morality tied to the plot. And the opera seemed to drag. But this production is fun, light, and wonderful all the way through. The performers are all pitch perfect and their comedic skills are tops. By tweaking the translations just a bit it is amazing how well the Mozart piece embeds itself into the Civil War southern culture. Debutantes are perfect descriptions of the young ingénues, and the superficialities of the social mores at that time coincides with Mozart’s silliness. There were many big laughs throughout, something not too common in opera.
The cast, all seem quite young and yet very accomplished. The Porticoes Theatre in Pasadena has just opened and this is a wonderful opening act, and hopefully a preview of more things to come. Hearing and seeing Mozart in a local smaller venue brings to mind concerts in Italy which are frequently performed in churches and small venues.
The roles in “Cosie Fan Tutte” are all double-cast. On opening night we were delighted with the sisterly antics of Daria Somers as Fiordiligi and Elizabeth Jones as Dorabella. They sang and frolicked in harmony and billowed around the stage in their delightful hoop skirts (no costume credit found-Shaw is billed as designer.) Both performers hit it out of the park, although we were very taken with Daria in both her humorous and ultra sincere and heartfelt arias. Jessica Mamey as Despina was masterful as a mezzo soprano and with her expressive facial expressions, as a clown. The young studs Ferrando (Perry Davis Harper), and Guglielmo (Michael Blinco) were also amazing in their “in the moment” antics and their skilled and wonderful voices. Luvi Avendano as Don Alfonso the instigator was also perfect.
With tickets starting at $15 and free parking, we can wholeheartedly recommend this production to everyone who loves Mozart, opera or comedy. The only bad part of this production is that it is only planned for four shows--only one more weekend is on the books so don’t get shut out!
Georja Umano is an actress/comedienne and animal advocate.
Pacific Opera Project in association wth Porticoes Theatre
2033 E. Washington Bl., Pasadena, CA
tickets from $15-$40
Sat. May 19 - 7:30 pm
Sun. May 20 - 3:00 pm