Santa Fe Opera: Mozart’s ‘Così Fan Tutte’ Begins Tonight

Rod Gilfry as Don Alfonso in the Santa Fe Opera’s new production of Mozart’s Così fan tutte. Photo by Ken Howard

SFO News:

SANTA FE — On Saturday, July 13, the Santa Fe Opera will present Mozart’s Così fan tutte in a new production directed by R. B. Schlather (making his company debut) and conducted by Music Director Harry Bicket.

“For years Così was dismissed as a minor Mozart work, but for me it is a masterpiece,” writes Bicket. “The poignancy of Mozart’s own autobiographical connection with the opera (he married the sister of the woman he was in love with), coupled with some of the most profound and touching music he ever wrote, makes it a timeless exploration of how we learn to love (and lose) each other.”

For this new production, Director R. B. Schlather envisions a minimalist setting, stripping away artifice to lay bare the characters’ intentions. Schlather draws inspiration from contemporary art and explores the duality of our inner lives and public personas. The cast features American lyric soprano Amanda Majeski (Fiordiligi), Canadian-Italian mezzo-soprano Emily D’Angelo in her company debut (Dorabella), American tenor Ben Bliss (Ferrando), American baritone and former apprentice singer Jarrett Ott (Guglielmo), Canadian coloratura soprano Tracy Dahl (Despina), American baritone Rod Gilfry (Don Alfonso) and American bass-baritone Dale Travis (Don Alfonso on July 17). Paul Tate de Poo III (scenic design), former technical apprentice Terese Wadden (costume design) and former technical apprentice JAX Messenger (lighting design) round out the Creative Team. Susanne Sheston serves as Chorus Master.

Così fan tutte is the third of five mainstage shows in the Santa Fe Opera’s 2019 Season. The work holds a place of distinction in the Company’s repertory, having been staged in its 1957 inaugural season and produced ten times subsequently, most recently in 2007. Così fan tutte can also be credited with helping to shape the Santa Fe Opera’s artistic identity. In 1951, the young John O’Hea Crosby became a conducting student at Columbia University. He was already a devoted fan of musical comedy when he began attending performances at the Metropolitan Opera. These were staged in the old-school “park and bark” tradition, with one exception — a Così fan tutte directed by actor Alfred Lunt. Here Crosby saw “a carefully, brilliantly rehearsed evening with six superb singing actors.” This was the seed from which the Santa Fe Opera’s identity as an ensemble company that gives equal weight to musical and theatrical values grew.

More on Così fan tutte
Composed just two years before Mozart’s untimely death, Mozart and Da Ponte’s final collaboration has delighted, confounded and rewarded viewers ever since its 1790 premiere in Vienna. Their “School for Lovers” sports a highly experienced faculty and a progressive curriculum — required reading and written papers have all been replaced by experiential learning. There’s a devil of a final exam, though, especially for two young couples about to be married. It’s a lab project in which they dissect the question, “Are you in love, or in love with the idea of love?” They’re also required to change partners, and much to their surprise, they discover that being engaged to someone special doesn’t preclude being especially attracted to someone else. Mesmerizingly beautiful music and a profound understanding of the heart illuminate this all-too-human situation.

The 2019 Season
The 2019 summer festival runs from June 28 to August 24 and will present five operas in 36 performances, a special Santa Fe Opera debut concert by celebrated American soprano Renée Fleming with the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra led by Music Director Harry Bicket, and two Apprentice Scenes performances. The 63rd Season, the first to be led by General Director Robert K. Meya, Artistic Director Alexander Neef, and Music Director Harry Bicket, explores classic works of the repertory as well as operas new to the Santa Fe Opera and the world’s stage.

About the Santa Fe Opera
Lauded by The Wall Street Journal as “the Rolls-Royce of American summer opera festivals,” the Santa Fe Opera annually draws 85,000 people from New Mexico and around the globe. Nestled atop a mountain vista in northern New Mexico, the company’s iconic John Crosby Theatre offers a nightly seating capacity of 2,126. The covered theatre is open on three sides, allowing visitors to enjoy performances complemented by the elements. Since 1957 the company has presented over 2,000 performances of 168 operas by 87 composers, including 15 world premieres and 45 American premieres.