Opera Magazine reviews an 'edgy' Cosi fan tutte

"If Cosi is essential country-house fare, the edginess of Daisy Evans' production reflected the adventurous spirit of John Coke and Suzanne Lemieux of Bury Court Opera, celebrating its tenth anniversary this year.  Its setting, designed by Katherine Heath, was a convincingly grubby World War 11 army camp.  Don Alfonso was a physically (and psychologically) scarred officer, Ferrando and Guglielmo were already conscripted, and Despina and the eight-strong chorus were togged up in khakis.  Fiordiligi and Dorabella, suitably drama-prone members of ENSA, played along knowingly with the 'suicide attempt' of their suitors, who were disguised not as 'Albanians', but as Americans, swaggering GIs bearing gifts of nylons and Hershey bars.  If Act 1 majored on well-oiled knockabout, things got intense in Act 2.  Dorabella and Guglielmo half-undressed each other during 'Il core vi dono' and the vengeful Ferrando turned vicious in 'Fra gli amplessi'.  At the 'wedding' the girls' misery was palpable, and Alfonso exulted darkly at the final meltdown.
     Leading the cast was Gemma Summerfield, who only recently left the Royal College of Music but already displays astonishing maturity.  Her 'Come scoglio' coupled heroic punch with exhilarating passagework, and 'Per pieta' was shaped with searing sensitivity.  As her sister, Bethan Langford belied the Joyce Grenfell gawkiness of her characterisation with singing of yielding warmth and a certain grandeur.  David Shaw's refreshingly clean and natural-sounding tenor did full mellifluous justice to 'Un aura amorosa', while suavity and ring were the hallmark of Alex Otterburn, an on-the-ball Guglielmo whose eyes filled with tears in the final scene.  Nina Lejderman lent substance to Despina with her zingy timbre and piquant Italian, and the embittered gravitas of Eddie Wade as Alfonso underpinned the entire performance.  The conductor Paul Wingfield, an alumnus of the Royal Opera House's Jette Parker programme, sustained a close, animated and articulate dialogue between the stage and the orchestra, Camerata Alma Viva - founded in Geneva, now UK-based, and resolutely pan-European in spirit."  

Reviewer, Yehuda Shapiro. Reproduced by kind permission of Opera Magazine. You can subscribe to a digital edition of Opera Magazine at https://shop.exacteditions.com/opera