"Così fan tutte"

A few days ago we accepted an invitation for this evening's full dress rehearsal of the Brooklyn Philharmonic's "Così fan tutte," in a co-production with BAM, directed by Jonathan Miller.

Mozart and Da Ponte got it right over 200 years ago, but this very modern staging (public performances are scheduled for April 24, 26, 28, 30 and May 2 at 7:30 pm, and May 4 at 3pm) is absolutely magnificent, enchanting, hysterical, beautiful, sexy, humanistic, enlightened. Highly recommended on every count. Under Robert Spano's direction, the orchestra was brilliant, perhaps beyond anything even lucky New Yorkers should ordinarily expect; Miller's direction incredibly credible and inspired at the same time; the singing extraordinary, both the four younger, new, and the two older, more familiar voices you may already have in your CD library; the acting superior to most straight theatre. The contemporary costumes worked, perhaps especially those of the two "Albanian" chums, one a white, dredlocked, Carribean bopper and the other a trashy, blond, 80's heavy metalist, but the creamy modern sets suffered from an excess of silly drapery, even if the couples' celebratory champagne looked irresistably real.

The theater is the Harvey, a converted Brooklyn cinema, and one of its greatest virtues is its intimacy, at least compared to the convention halls known as the Metropolitan Opera House and the New York State Theater. You actually get to hear and see the singer-actors, and you'll still be able to pay the rent after buying a ticket.

Opera really has become the classical music form of our time. It is once again absolutely the most vital outlet for both composers and audiences, for very good reasons not all related to our increasingly sad cultural circumstances. The elimination of educational facilities, diminishing subsidies and a dramatic decline in the number of venues have all forced a cutback in the number of music models generally available, but opera survives. It even flourishes, fortunately sometimes in innovative shapes which traditionalists would not recognize as opera.

This one however should please everyone. Check out this cozy "Così." If you're just now getting into opera, this really is the time, the place and the song.

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Published on April 23, 2003 1:07 AM.

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