When we first meet them, it's love's young dream for two couples in Ferrara, so why would two young men trick their lovers, and why would the two women they leave behind forget them so easily? "Women are all like that" says the title.
But Gloger takes a different tack: his women are in the know, while his men are drawn into the action of the play they have all been watching together, and act out the roles of new suitors. And so the action swings between the corseted and bewigged 18th century of the play within a play, and the savvy 1950s of its onlookers.
Gloger also employs a plausibly young cast, whose alacrity and attractiveness are a delight. London-based American soprano Corinne Winters sings the faithful Fiordiligi, whose high-minded refusal to stray only makes her fall farther, faster. Italian baritone Alessio Arduini sings her intended, Guglielmo, and German tenor Daniel Behle is Ferrando, who temporarily wins her over. American mezzo-soprano Angela Brower as the more flirtatious Dorabella sings with exceptional grace, and all four have a wonderful ear for their ensemble numbers. All but Arduini are making their Covent Garden debuts.
As the fixer Despina, Spanish Sabina Puértolas is nippy of voice and physique, and Johannes Martin Kränzle, also making his ROH debut as the scheming Don Alfonso, gives not only lessons in love, but lessons in how to get every ounce of music out of his beautifully controlled lines. Kränzle is clearly a singer to catch whenever you can.
The action moves in and out of reality and the stage life, as sets are built and struck during numbers – a decorous drawing room, a pastoral hummock – and there is a constant flow of "stage hands" getting on with their tasks, oblivious to the breaking hearts around them. This entertaining design is by Ben Baur, and costume designer Karin Jud wittily mitchy-matches ancient and modern.
If musically the production doesn't always reach the most sublime heights, some of the blame lies with a slightly limp orchestra of the Royal Opera House under Semyon Bychkov, whose occasionally slow tempi put a strain on the singers.
But the humour is affectionate, the singing fresh and feisty, and there are visual gags aplenty. And whatever the truth about women, operas are not all like that.
|What||Così Fan Tutte review, Royal Opera House|
|Where||Royal Opera House, Bow Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DD | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Covent Garden (underground)|
22 Sep 16 – 19 Oct 16, 6:45 PM – 10:15 PM
|Price||£9 - £190|
|Website||Click here for booking|