Friday's opening night of Cosi Fan Tutte was a beautiful success. At the end of the show, the actors received a well-deserved standing ovation chocked full of loud claps, whops and hollers for a job well done.
While the actors were the ones visibly receiving the praise, much note should be given to the director, Todd Queen, who concocted this delightful interpretation of Mozart's Opera.
As Queen described in Friday night's program, "I decided to set this in the 1960s, for the contrast of 'Camelot' versus 'Rock and Roll' and 'Flower Power'".
Queen accomplished just that.
Throughout the play, the attire of the actors changed dramatically to fit their mood changes and a shift toward more "liberal" thinking, very akin to the changes taking place in America throughout the 1960s.
Despite Mozart's comedic Cosi Fan Tutte being written hundreds of years ago, the message and the music were just as relevant and even laughable now as they were back then.
The tale is that of two sisters, Fiordiligi and Dorabella (played by Katie Yeager and Nichelle Stewart), who are madly in love and obsessive about their beaus, Ferrando and Guglielmo (played by John Lindsey and James Baumgardner). As a cunning and cruel joke, a mutual friend of theirs, Don Alfonso (played by Stuart Dameron) decides to test the fidelity of the two sisters by having the two beaus dress in disguise and go for each other's girl. The test proves true and each sister falls madly in love with the suitor in disguise. Understanding prevails, however, and after chiding Alfonso for his game and through many beautiful love songs, the couples decide to forgive and forget. Alas, love conquers all and, despite the infidelity of the sisters, the couples have a joint wedding ceremony at the end.
The CSU Opera Department was able to execute this witty plot with precise comedic timing and exceptionally played symphony pieces. Stewart and Yeager shined on stage as sisters and even had me wondering – were they really sisters? With their matching blond hair, pristine voices and grace on stage, they were a perfect and believable duo for the evening. The suitors, Lindsey and Baumgardner, were also just as well cast with Lindsey exhibiting perfect comedic timing and a real knack for knowing how to get the audience laughing with his disco moves.
By far the starlet commanded the most attention on stage and had me thinking, "this girl is going somewhere when she graduates," was Brooke Winakur who played the role of Despina.
Despina is the quirky maid who, throughout the comedy, disguised herself as a doctor and a notary to help further Alfonso's game. Winakur sparkled on stage and, whether dancing about playfully, singing off key for comedic effect, or giving googly-eyed facial expressions she truly was magnificent. Winakur proved her aptitude to play a multitude of characters throughout the evening and to "let it all hang out", showing no inhibitions or reluctance to play her characters to the fullest extent possible when on stage.
For those who weren't able to attend Friday's Cosi Fan Tutte, it was, without a doubt, an evening not to be missed.
Although this was the first full length Opera in Italian of the season (English subtitles were provided), the CSU Opera Department will be putting on Suor Angelica by Giacomo Puccini Nov. 4 and 5 in the Edna Rizley Griffin Concert Hall. Tickets are $10 for students and $20 for the public.
I give it 5 stars.