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Opera review: Not quite happily ever after for the likeable Cosi Fan Tutte

Published on Mar 2, 2014 9:35 AM

With Cosi Fan Tutte, the Singapore Lyric Opera has completed the trilogy of great operas Mozart composed with the Italian librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte.

The first two were The Marriage Of Figaro and Don Giovanni, premiered in 1786 and 1787, which are more popular than the 1790 offering. Although Cosi does not have the show-stopping arias and melodies of its predecessors, the comedic plot and witty lines make it lighter-going and instantly likeable.

Even its misogynist premise and social commentary, shocking at the time, still resonate amid the liberal mores of the 21st century. Ferrando and Guglielmo subject their fiancees, Dorabella and Fiordiligi, to a test of fidelity by way of a farcical experiment. They pretend to go to war, but return in disguise to woo each other's amore, while watching the results unravel.

Veteran British director Tom Hawkes chose early 20th century Southeast Asia as its setting, with a Somerset Maugham-like atmosphere in a quasi-Raffles hotel designed by Christopher Chua. A combo of local and Western period costumes by Moe Kasim added to the exoticism of the production that was wholly appropriate.

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