Beautiful singing in a superb comic romp

Cosi Fan Tutte
Cosi Fan Tutte

Review by Hannah Richardson

Glyndebourne is on tour at Milton Keynes Theatre this week, and once again I’m reminded how very lucky we are in Milton Keynes to be on the touring route for two world-class opera companies, Glyndebourne and the Welsh National Opera.

Cosi Fan Tutte

Cosi Fan Tutte

Tonight, Friday, Glyndebourne stages a new opera based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, created by Australian composer Brett Dean and Canadian librettist Matthew Jocelyn.

Taking the title role is rising British tenor David Butt Philip, performing opposite the International Opera Award-nominated British soprano Jennifer France as Ophelia.

The tour line-up is completed by two revivals.

Annabel Arden’s vibrant staging of Rossini’s Barber of Seville, first seen at last year’s Glyndebourne Festival, is on stage tomorrow, Saturday.

The third opera in the tour, and my choice of viewing on Tuesday night, was Glyndebourne’s revival of Nicholas Hytner’s popular 2006 production of Mozart’s Così Fan Tutte.

Cosi had for too long been a gap in my operatic knowledge, so I was very happy to be able to see it for the first time in such an acclaimed production.

And it was well worth the wait.

The story, of course, is very silly. Sisters Fiordiligi and Forabella are betrothed to Ferrando and Guglielmo.

The two young men are persuaded by their older friend Don Alfonso to test their beloveds’ fidelity by pretending to go off to war and then comingback disguised as foreigners to try and seduce them.

Aided in their deception by the resourceful and cynical maid, Despina, they eventually win the ladies over and arrange a marriage ceremony – proving Don Alfonso’s assertion that all women are unfaithful.

A silly story it may be, but the music is divine, with beautiful quartets and duets sung by the various combinations of young lovers, played by soprano Kirsten MacKinnon, mezzo Rachel Kelly, tenor Bogdan Volkov and baritone Ilya Kutyukhin.

Not only did the voices of the four complement each other superbly, but their acting skills made the show in the main a hugely enjoyable comic romp, with just enough of an unsettling quality in its ending.

They were ably supported by Ana Quintans as Despina and Jose Fardilha as Don Alfonso.

There are just a few seats left for the remainder of this week’s shows. For availability, see ATGTICKETS.COM/MiltonKeynes or call 0844 871 7652