This evening, we attended a performance by Felici Opera of the three Mozart/Da Ponte operas: The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni and Cosi Fan Tutte.
The open-air performance was held at St Paul’s Walden Bury, which is a Grade II listed house set in Grade I listed gardens. Before the event, there was time to have a picnic, or simply to stroll around the grounds.
They have an interesting mix of formal and wild elements.
Fitting three operas into one evening, including time for set changes, required quite a bit of ingenuity.
For each opera, the performance of selected songs (accompanied by two pianos) was interspersed by narrative summary of a simplified plot. Songs were either in English or in Italian although I don’t know how the producers decided which language to use.
Unfortunately, the music had to compete with the fact there is a flight path to Luton Airport close by, and it seemed as if every song had its own aeroplane accompaniment! Still, the singing was of Felici Opera’s usual high quality.
The Marriage of Figaro
We didn’t see so much of Count Almaviva, with the trimmed down performance focussing more on the shenanigans his household get up to behind his back. Cherubino was a lot of fun to watch, especially when he was trying to walk in a dress (bearing in mind he’s played by a mezzo soprano).
You may be aware from a previous post that this is my favourite opera, and that I’ve previously been to a performance by Felici Opera. Of course, this time the performance was substantially cut (I think to 30 minutes total from the more typical 3+ hours) and the plot narrative simplified. I particularly enjoyed “Deh vieni alla finestra” although it was slightly spoiled by the reflection of an aeroplane appearing in the upstairs window rather than the maid Don Giovanni was serenading!
Cosi Fan Tutte
This opera was completely new to me, so I rather enjoyed learning about it via the (presumably simplified) narrative summaries. Despina and Don Alfonso’s schemes were impressive, though overshadowed by Ferrando’s fake moustache!
Overall, this was an enjoyable evening in an impressive setting (albeit not an ideal one for opera). I’ll be watching out for future performances.
How about a book?
If you want a different and fictional take on Lorenzo Da Ponte, please check out my writing friend David Neilson’s third Sophie Rathenau book: Serene. Larry Da Ponte plays a major role in the story, and who knows how meeting Sophie might have affected his career pathway?