Clonter Opera Theatre
Clonter Opera Theatre
19 July 2015 to 26 July 2015
First the title, jokey and non-pc, which roughly translates as “They’re all like that,” meaning women being fickle and feckless. But the alternative title is The School For Lovers, and director Harry Fehr has taken that as his cue.
This Cosi is set in a mixed public school, where school uniform is the order of the day. The sisters, Fiordiligi and Dorabella, wear tartan skirts, blue blazers and knee-length socks. Alfonso is be-gowned head boy, who persuades rugger-playing Ferrando and Guglielmo to disappear for a day, to put their girlfriends’ fidelity to the test for a £1,000 bet.
Designer Eleanor Wdowski provides a spare but effective set, which serves as the school locker room, canteen and eventually marriage parlour.
It’s a young-at-heart production in every way, sung (clearly) in English, and it was encouraging to see so many young people enjoying themselves in the audience as a result of Clonter’s educational outreach efforts.
I found it refreshing, delightful and funny, though seriously musical under the firm and patient hand of conductor Clive Timms, steering the alert 12-strong Clonter Sinfonia through Mozart’s score.
The singing and acting is of a high order, full of conviction and enjoyment. As Fiordiligi (Guglielmo’s girlfriend), soprano Elizabeth Skinner displays a quite remarkable voice, so powerful and beautiful even at this stage that one could see her developing into a Wagnerian heroine. The danger here is that she needs to be modulated in the ensemble pieces. Kamilla Dunstan, also in good voice, makes an attractive Dorabella (Ferrando’s girlfriend) and they work well as sisters, nicely capturing the girlish frivolity.
Dominic Walsh and Andrew McTaggart perform splendidly and rumbustiously as the boyfriends, not least when they appear disguised as mini-guitar-toting German tourists, garishly dressed. Nick Dwyer is a smooth, devious and credible ring-master, and petite Joana Gil is characterful as his co-fixer.
It’s a pleasure to see such a spirited contemporary take on this 225-year-old favourite.
Reviewer: Philip Radcliffe