The San Diego Opera is back in person this weekend

San Diego Opera is back to in-person productions at the Civic Theater after experimenting with drive-in performances during the pandemic. of Mozart”Cosi Fan Tutte“Arrives just in time for Valentine’s Day.

The San Diego Opera back in person with “Cosi Fan Tutte”

If there’s anything the pandemic has taught us, it’s that we have to be flexible and just go with whatever life throws at us. In a way, that’s also what Mozart’s “Così Fan Tutte” is about.

“That’s about when your heart breaks for the first time and you realize that life won’t be as simple or as plannable as you imagined,” said Tim Nelson, director of “Così Fan Tutte “.

“So I think that’s a particular resonance that comes out of that time when all of a sudden all of our lives were shattered in ways that we couldn’t have imagined. And you realize how you are vulnerable and how unpredictable life is going to be,” Nelson added.

“That’s one of the best things about art is that it imitates life,” said baritone Reginald Smith Jr.. “And so that’s really that feeling that we all had our own individual plans and that things are going well and everything is going to be fine.

“But now, I think, even still in the midst of this pandemic, we all have a heightened understanding and awareness of ourselves, of space, of hand washing, but also a greater appreciation of relationships, connections and friendships. I think there are certainly a lot of life lessons that we can apply or transfer from this opera to our current circumstances.”

For the general manager of the San Diego Opera, David Bennett, the return to live performance had to take into account not only artistic concerns but also practical ones.

“It’s a little opera,” Bennett said. “It has a six-person cast, a relatively small choir, and in our production, which is a new production, the choir is offstage all the time. So all of that is part of why we cast it. But it’s Mozart.”

And Mozart serves up a story of transformation, one that audiences can relate to, especially now.

Roland Lizarondo

Mezzo-soprano Samantha Hankey, South Korean tenor Konu Kim, baritone John Brancy and soprano Sarah Tucker play the lovers’ quartet in the San Diego Opera’s production of Mozart’s “Cosi Fan Tutte.” February 8, 2022

In ‘Così Fan Tutte’, two loving couples discover that true love never runs smoothly, prompting Nelson to draw inspiration from Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’.

“The metaphor that Shakespeare uses in ‘Dream’, with many of his plays, is that of going into the woods, going to a dark and scary place where you go through a transformative experience and come out of it. another different side than how they went,” Nelson said. “The way this production will actually look like a production of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’.”

Thus, an idyllic field of poppies where you first meet lovers turns into a wooded forest where Don Alfonso (sung by Smith), confirmed bachelor, tries to prove that all women are fickle.

“So every director has a decision to make about who’s the smartest character in the scene,” Nelson explained. So it’s a great joy to do that with Reggie and to have someone who’s able to own not just his role, but his show, and lean in to be the brains and the puppeteer, the Oberon of our ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ in a way.”

Smith commands the stage as he literally steps in to direct the action.

“One of the things that makes it a more challenging role is because he’s the puppeteer, kind of like Iago in ‘Otello’, there’s always that kind of little whisper. So he’s always there and he there’s always a sense of you need to be turned on,” Smith explained.

So even when he’s not singing, Smith’s Don Alfonso is busy on the periphery of the stage, bringing in trees, making it rain and just making sure things go according to his plans.

Nelson turned to vaudeville to add levity to some of the onstage action.

“So one of the things that we’ve done, in terms of design, especially in design, is look at stage magic, old-fashioned vaudeville stage magic, because we use as the central metaphor of the piece, to be in a performance, to be on stage,” Nelson said.

So don’t be surprised when Don Alonso wipes the rain off the silver streamers or Despina dons a pair of Groucho Marx glasses with a fake nose and mustache and uses a giant magnet on the lovers.

But none of these antics take anything away from the music.

“There’s something about Mozart’s music that touches your heart,” enthused Smith.

What better way to spend this Valentine’s Day weekend than with Mozart’s romantic and playful opera, which reminds us that when it comes to hearts and lives, we must be prepared to roll with the punches.

“Così Fan Tutte” has four performances at the Civic Theater starting this Saturday, February 12. Complementing the opera is a 1996 Australian film titled “cosi“, directed by Mark Joffe with screenplays by Louis Nowra who also wrote the 1992 play on which it was based. Both the play and the film offer a modern take on Mozart’s opera. The film stars Toni Collette and Ben Mendelsohn.

“We’re not selling at full capacity. We’re not even selling it at half capacity. So there’s a lot of opportunity to be comfortable,” Bennett said.

“We require proof of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID test within 24 hours of the performance. And that’s part of the check-in process is to provide that to us. And then we also require masking. Masking, like all of us know, is going to be lifted very soon, but we sold these tickets to an audience that expects to be in an environment where they’re all masked.”

About Madeline J. Carter

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