University students bring “Cosi fan tutte’s” “masterful score” to life

Abby Shifley and Abby Shifley

The opera is typically not where college students spend their weekend, which was evident in the audience of the University’s production of “Cosi fan tutte.” The seats of the Donnell Theater were full, but also primarily filled with community members and adults. But, even though the production did not draw a lot of University students, the opera was still deserving of students’ attention.

The cast involved in “Cosi” put on an excellent production of one of Mozart’s most beloved operas. The set itself was simple, but elegant with teal and purple curtains framing the stage. The cast showed incredible endurance and voice range throughout the three-and-a-half-hour opera. Naturally, there were times when the male voices would strain for higher notes and the soprano voices would get considerably quieter for the low notes; however, I got chills multiple times through the performance. These magical moments were also thanks to the orchestra, which was also made up of University students. Even though the orchestra in its entirety was very good, solo moments from the harpsichord added a playful and bright mood to the dialogue.

The story starts when the two men test their fiancés’ faithfulness by disguising themselves as potential suitors. In the end, the two women succumb to the seduction, which outrages their fiancés and supposedly proves than women cannot be faithful. Thus, the name of the production finally makes sense — “Cosi fan tutte” translates to “Thus do all women.”

Part of what made the production entertaining is the humor evident in the plot of “Cosi.” By following the misadventures of the two couples, many laughs emerged from the audience. However, this reaction was not always the case. The mixture of Mozart’s beautiful music and an occasional crude joke made “Cosi” very controversial when it premiered in 1790. But now, the opera’s humor is considered entertaining and many prestigious opera houses have performed “Cosi” in the recent years. In fact, the Metropolitan Opera has its own version of “Cosi” going on right now.

Jane Schoonmaker Rodgers, associate professor of voice/opera and stage director of the production, said, “If you’ve never seen and opera, this is a good one to start out on.”

Rodgers also said the production was a collaboration among the music faculty, primarily between the College of Musical Arts and the Department of Theater and Film.

Overall, I enjoyed the opera. Because I am minoring in music, I have a great appreciation for Mozart. I believe the cast involved in “Cosi” did the production justice. My main complaint was that I never had enough time to applaud after the many impressive numbers, because the cast would not pause long enough.