Tuesday, July 23

Opera North: Così Fan Tutte – Hull New Theatre

Theatre lovers enjoyed more than three hours of a most delightful opera on Thursday night, as Opera North brought its production of Così Fan Tutte to the Hull New Theatre.

I say delightful because, unlike others I have seen, I found this very easy to understand from the get go, though it helped that it was sung in English.

The title translates as “they’re all the same”, describing professor Don Alfonso’s take on all women.

Dutch baritone Quirijn de Lang played the professor with the right amount of menace, cunning and gravitas, as well as more than a hint of mischief.

The professor is the cause of all the shenanigans on the night, betting two lovestruck young men that their faithful amours would cheat on them, because in his mind women are “all the same”.

He challenges the two to a bet and gets them to agree to a 24-hour mission that will test the faithfulness of their doting betrothed.

Thinking the winnings are in the bag, the two – Ferrando (Anthony Gregory) and Guglielmo (Henry Neill) – dress up as soldiers and convince their fiancées they are going off to war.

Ferrando says farewell to the distraught Dorabella (Heather Lowe), while Guglielmo bids goodbye to her sister, Fiordiligi (Alexandra Lowe).

Behind the scenes the two men take on new identities and, with the help of the ladies’ servant, Despina (Pasquale Orchard), bribed by the professor, the trap is set.

What follows is a very amusing will they, won’t they scenario. Does the professor win the bet or do the two lovelorn men pocket the winnings?

All in all the six performers on the night bring this non-stop tale of romantic intrigue to life – individually as well as in a group.

This is Opera North so their amazing singing voices go without saying, but in Così Fan Tutte there is a lightness to proceedings, unlike some operas I’ve seen which can seem a bit weighty, for want of a better word.

The lightness didn’t extend to the very effective stage setting which consisted of black walls on which the outlines of panelled doors were drawn as if in white chalk. A huge mirror/window, resembling a giant Caribbean steel drum, hung to the left. Four plain chairs and a small table, all in white, completed the set up – and they were moved about non-stop during the production, especially by Despina as she busied herself.

Her part was played to comical perfection by understudy Orchard, who also took on a couple of other roles – a doctor and a lawyer. Amazing.

The opera is set in the 18th century when bustle-type ball gowns were de rigueur and the beautiful silver/grey satin ball gowns worn by the two girlfriends, added a splash of colour, with different patterned underskirts at times.

Before curtain up we were treated to a few minutes of Mozart’s music, played live by the Orchestra of Opera North, conducted on the night by Chloe Rooke. And, of course, this wonderful music continued throughout.

When you add together amazing singing voices by all (with Lowe and Lowe being especially memorable on the night), wonderful music, lovely costumes and a very amusing script, you can’t go wrong in theatre land. And it was only after quite a few curtain calls that the cheering audience allowed this talented bunch to leave the stage.

Running Saturday, April 6th, 2024; 2.30pm. Tickets cost from £16. Call (01482) 300306 or visit http://www.hulltheatres.co.uk

Reviewer: Jackie Foottit

Reviewed: 4th April 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.
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