Opera Now praises a 'sparkling' Cosi fan tutte
"Bury Court Opera in Hampshire has notched up a succession of triumphs recently. On the heels of a sparkling Fairy Queen, accliamed Rake's Progress and searing Madama Butterfly, the most recent offering was a Cosi fan tutte that was beguilingly sung, imaginatively acted and smartly directed.
A prime asset is Bury Court's welcoming barn setting. The acoustic is warm and responsive, there's no smudging and everything feels lucid and immediate. Camerata Alma Viva proved itself a fluent, sensitive ensemble, alluringly paced by conductor Paul Wingfield. Modern strings were rewardingly expressive - flute and clarinet for the girls in Act 1, and later for Dorabella; plus superlative horn for Fiordiligi's poignant Act 11 solo.
Daisy Evans' production, brimming with energy, was impressively seamless. Her use of Katherine Heath's impactful Great War set - crumbling building, scattered planks and metal, packing cases, rifles and wartime jumble - was admirable, especially as she drew the individually characterful chorus artfully into the weave of the story.
The six principals made a sparkling team in Mozart's tight ensemble writing. Gemma Summerfield's Fiordiligi carried off the laurels, bringing to her arias a melting pathos and a glorious tone. Bethan Langford led in the acting stakes and supplied a delicious voice, particularly lovely in middle range. Eddie Wade brought an impressive authority and resounding timbre to his battle-dressed Don Alfonso.
Not just the opposite sexes, but the same-sex pairs played off each other to gratifying effect, especially in a notable opening scene between Ferrando (David Shaw) and Guglielmo (Alexander Otterburn). Growing tension lent depth to the boys' duos, and every voice shone in the ensembles, with Nina Lejderman's outrageous, entertaining, scarcely disguised Despina providing the zesty icing on this satisfying cake." Four ****.
Reviewer Roderic Dunnett. Reproduced by king permission of Opera Now Magazine, April 2017. Photographs: Robert Workman.