If you’re anything like me, my exposure to opera is limited to Bugs Bunny and Bohemian Rhapsody. A little Figaro here and a little head massage there, but that’s about it. However, things are about to change in the YQG if Abridged Opera’s first operatic presentation of 2017 is any indication. The upstart local opera company staged a fabulous take on Mozart’s classic Così Fan Tutte on Sunday afternoon at the Kordazone Theatre. It was the first show of the company’s first ever complete season, which will see a further five productions enacted throughout the year.
Cosi is a story of two sisters who are engaged to two men, who through manipulation of another gentleman, are convinced their fiancés would not be true to them if put to the test. The boys pretend to go off to war and then disguise themselves and return to woo the other’s fiancé.
The girls at first are not having it, but through cohersion on the part of the maid, who is clearly in cahoots with the older gentleman, the girls give in to the advances of the disguised and marry them, only to have the fiancés mysteriously return to find their ladies have married others. They confess they were the disguised ones and everyone is left feeling rather confused about their emotions.
It was an entertaining experience considering the vocals were sung in Italian. The experience was made easier to follow thanks to some masterful narration by Adam Iannetta, who explained the whole show with a modern play-by-play approach, even using his cell phone for a stint using Wikipedia. His job was also made a little easier with the use of translated lyrics which were projected on the back of the stage.
Although it may have been nice to see the production all glammed out with traditional costumes, the company used a relaxed presentation, which gave the show a more modern feel and served as a great introduction to the opera format for many in attendance. It was also interesting to see most of the female actors barefoot through most of the show, which is not an opera usual.
The cast was marvelous and surprisingly believable for such an outlandish story line. Erin Armstrong was adorable as Fiordiligi and her voice was strong enough that passers by outside would have heard her. Amelia Daigle was also really fun to watch as Dorabella, the other engaged woman of the show – her facial reactions were cute and her vocals kept pace with Armstrong. The ladies were rounded out by Brianna DeSantis who offered the best visual presentation of the entire show. She was not only a friend to the girls and a priest to sanctify the marriage, she was an extremely funny doctor who came to save the boys with a giant magnet (yes you read that correctly). The boys – Anthony Rodrigues, Conlan Gassi and Cairan Ryan – provided a solid match to the girls and provided a bunch of laughs, including some mustache malfunctions. As good as the guys could be, this was a performance for the girls to shine.
The music, provided entirely by Bill Shookoff on keyboards, was surprisingly satisfying considering the original piece required an orchestra. Sometimes simplicity is amazing.
Cosi was a good choice to open the season with its fun story and powerhouse vocal tunes. Although not as well-known as Le Nozze di Figaro or Don Giovanni, it’s still considered one of the most popular operas of all time. And once you’ve seen it, you’ll know why.
Cheers to the gang at Abridged Opera for staging a fantastic opening show to what should be a killer first season in Windsor.
The next show is Hansel and Gretel on April 30.