Fringe company Opera Lyrica brings to the stage a brave performance of Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutte opera, at Notting Hill's best kept secret, the 20th Century Theatre.
Being an avid opera fan, you can imagine my excitement upon hearing that the fringe company Opera Lyrica were bringing to the stage, in London, their unique version of the notorious Italian opera Cosi Fan Tutte.
With only three performances spanning across just three days, I cleared by calendar and bought a couple of tickets to see an eclectic version of one of Mozart’s most infamous productions on Sunday 10 May.
Armed with anticipation, excitement and some trepidation at how this performance would shape up, I arrived at the quintessential 20th Century Theatre, hidden away in the heart of bustling Notting Hill.
The grade 2 listed English Heritage building added nothing but an exceptional ambiance to the opera, with its high ceilings and original architecture and design dating back to 1860 when it was first built. Hosting performances by the most prominent musicians, actors and playwrights, it came as no surprise that Opera Lyrica chose this venue to put on their latest production.
First performed in 1790 in Vienna, it’s no wonder that Cosi Fan Tutte has become one of Mozart’s most popular operas, nor is it surprising that it has lasted the test of time, with its unending theme of fidelity, love and jealousy combined. Despite featuring such heavy themes, performers in this version of the opera managed to project a combination of both tragedy and humour, keeping the audience enthralled and entertained all at the same time.
Directed by Paola Cuffolo, the founder and artistic director of Opera Lyrica, this performance was by far one of the lighter versions I have seen of Cosi Van Tutte. Complemented by the phenomenal orchestra conducted by William Cole, the opera was complete with all the fanfare one should expect. Forget music background recordings… this was the real thing.
Last but not least the all-professional cast were simply breath taking, with their high-voltage versions of the characters. Szymon Wach, a Guildhall music school graduate with international work experience gave an unforgettable form of the cunning Alfonso. Australian soprano Kristy Swift displayed her versatility changing into three characters throughout the opera and left audiences speechless with her voice that I can only describe as being ‘sweet as a lark’.
Welsh born baritone Nick Dwyer lent his deep and electrifying voice to the role of Guglielmo, while his stage presence could not but go unnoticed. His partner in crime Ferrando was played by British tenor still in training Peter Aisher, who showed more than promise of making it big. Lending their talent to the voices of femme fetales, Fiordiligi and Dorabella respectively were soprano Jenny Stafford and mezzo-soprano Sarah Denbee.
Keep a look out for all these young operatic stars in the making, as it looks like their journey into the magnificent world of opera is just beginning.
It’s true that Italian opera is famous for its long and somewhat drawn-out scenes, where performers repeat their lyrics with pained faces and exaggerated gestures, so if you don’t think you can bear the three hour long act, it might help to know that time flew by! A screen above the stage with subtitles also aided in understanding the opera for first time goers of Cosi Fan Tutte.
Apart from a couple of glitches with the subtitles the performance went as smoothly as can be expected from a small company with such promise. I’d advise any opera enthusiasts to support the fringe opera company Opera Lyrica, who hire star quality cast and musicians.
The opera was produced by Nicholas Simpson.