It’s finally fall and you know what? It’s even starting to feel like fall. It’s my favorite time of the year. Summer’s heat is past, winter’s chill is still a ways off and days are filled with colorful leaves, apples and apple cider, the smell of cinnamon and of course, a new performing arts season. With that, my husband and I went to see the opening night performance of Opera Carolina’s first production of the 2010-11 season, “Cosi fan tutte” aka “The School for Lovers.”
We started out with a backstage tour of the set, which was guided by Michael Baumgarten, Opera Carolina’s Production Manager and Lighting Designer, and Brandon Stanley, Opera Carolina’s Assistant Director for E-Marketing and Sales. The tour of the set was quite nice and standing on stage at The Blumenthal Center for the Performing Arts was a unique vantage point. It was even more memorable as we saw a couple get engaged on the stage during the tour. Something for everyone present to remember, for sure.
While the opera was originally set to take place in Naples in the 18th century, director Bernard Uzan updated the set and costumes so that this production takes place at a seaside resort in the 1920s after World War I, and it works as a good backdrop for the hilarity that ensues in this comedy built on a wager about infidelity. For a complete synopsis of the plot, read it here at Opera Carolina’s website.
The performances by the cast were fantastic. Fiordiligi and Dorabella were played by Caitlin Lynch and Elizabeth Stannard, and they did an incredible job singing and performing their roles. Robert Mack and Marian Pop played our gallant officers, Ferrando and Guglielmo. Mack needed help from another tenor, Jason Karn, since he was under the weather. But he soldiered on in his performance and performed admirably until his voice couldn’t give any more.
But the real treats were in the performances of Despina and Don Alfonso, played by Sarah Callinan and Kristopher Irmiter. Sarah’s rendition of Despina was particularly mischievous, which gave her taunting and teasing of Fiordiligi and Dorabella texture. Irmiter’s performance of Don Alfonso was particularly special. His voice was great, but what really stood out was the acting. Indeed, everyone’s performances in this production were what I would a quintessential comedic Mozart performance should be like: light-hearted and playful, but also evocative and soul-grabbing.
All in all, a fantastic way to kick off the season.