UNL Opera presents Così fan tutte

UNL Opera presents Così fan tutte

calendar icon09 Feb 2018    user iconBy Kathe C. Andersen

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s opera “Così fan tutte” poster
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s opera “Così fan tutte” poster

The Glenn Korff School of Music presents Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s opera “Così fan tutte” Feb. 23 and 25.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 23 and 3 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 25 in Kimball Recital Hall. Tickets are $20 adults and $10 seniors/students and are available in advance from the Lied Center Box Office at (402) 472-4747 or at the door.

The opera’s full title, “Così fan tutte, ossia La scuola degli amanti,” means “Thus do they all, or The School for Lovers” and was first performed in 1790 in Vienna, Austria.

The story begins with a wily, old cynic and experimental philosopher, Don Alfonso, who determines to overturn the perfect, formulaic worlds of two young men, Ferrando and Guglielmo. He bets them that their respective fiancées would not stay faithful for a moment if put to the test, and the challenge is accepted.

“’Così fan tutte’ is a comic, Italian opera with a lot of good laughs, but it also makes you think,” said Brianna Smith (M.M.), a graduate student from Wolverine Lake, Michigan. “Ferrando and Guglielmo, two officers, tell their friend, Don Alfonso, that their lovers, the sisters Dorabella and Fiordiligi, will remain faithful to them no matter what. Don Alfonso strikes up a bet with them, saying he can get the girls to break their fidelity within a day's time. The men pretend to go off to war, but then disguise themselves and return as two adoring foreigners, trying to woo the girls. Don Alfonso enlists the help of their maid, Despina, and the six characters get themselves into some hilarious situations. In the midst of the comedy, it is also a story of forgiveness, love, and the wisdom that comes from going through trying situations. It's an interesting story with an interesting ending.”

Larson Distinguished Professor of Music and Director of Opera William Shomos will direct the cast of six singers.

“It’s a terrific cast with a lot of experience,” Shomos said. “’Così’ really is an ensemble piece with its six equally weighted roles.”

Smith plays Despina, the maid of the two sisters.

“She is a feisty woman with an interesting take on love and life,” Smith said. “In a lot of ways, she is the voice of reason with a cynical side, telling the girls not to put too much of their faith in men or relationships. Playing her is a lot of fun because she takes charge and has a way of saying what’s on her mind.”

Matthew Clegg (D.M.A.), a graduate student from Midway, Utah, plays Ferrando.

“Ferrando is, above all, completely devoted and in love with Dorabella,” Clegg said. “He is young, idealistic and somewhat more even-tempered than his friend Guglielmo. A large part of the story involves Ferrando and Guglielmo disguising themselves in order to try and tempt their fianceés. It is very enjoyable to play a character who in turn is trying to act as someone other than themselves.”

Shomos is also working with four graduate designers from the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film for set, lighting and costume design and props, including set designer Lisa Haldeman.

“When we started the process, Lisa didn’t have any experience with this opera, so I just wanted to let her loose,” Shomos said. “I’ve produced the opera a few times before, and I was interested in how someone looking at the piece and listening to it for the first time would respond. She conceptualized the piece in its original 18th century setting, so I suppose you could say this will be a ‘traditional’ production.”

Smith said audiences should expect an intriguing story portrayed through beautiful music.

“Mozart and Da Ponte, the librettist, created something that transports audiences,” Smith said. “In this way, I think people will find themselves getting attached to the characters and wrapped up in the twists the story takes. The audience will root for love throughout the story and wonder how it’s going to end, all the way up until the last moment.”

Shomos said the music is “sublime,” and its open-endedness matches the story.

“When you listen to the music, it can be difficult to discern whether Mozart is intending sincerity or parody,” he said. “And in fact, I think he often gives us a choice in the matter.”

Smith said she has enjoyed collaborating with everyone to put on this opera.

“It’s an honor to collaborate with artists who put so much time, energy and heart into creating something special,” Smith said. “The music and the story are phenomenal, and I think we are all doing our best to bring it to life. The rehearsal process has been really rewarding and sharing the product with audiences is sure to be a highlight of my time here in the Glenn Korff School of Music.”

Clegg said the opera is for everyone.

“Even if you have never been to an operatic performance, this opera is a perfect way to start,” he said. “Come and laugh, enjoy beautiful music, and you will find your time well spent.”

Shomos hopes the community comes to see the production.

“The team of designers and performers really show the college off at its very best,” he said.