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Bland Olí Opry
By Paul Rapp

CosŪ Fan Tutte

Glimmerglass Opera, July 10

Mozartís 1790 opera CosŪ Fan Tutte is a late bloomer; it was panned when it was first performed and wasnít even performed in the United States until the 1920s. The operaís story of deceit and infidelity and reconciliation is improbable, although it does have its goofy charm. The work rides on the genius of Mozart, plain and simple. And that is more than enough to make it go.

For the majority of the first act, the story is told in ensemble singing, from duets to full company septets, with an offstage chorus occasionally chiming in. Close harmonies and contrapuntal melodies (sometimes as many as three and four) filled the hall so completely that it didnít matter that there was little else going on. Mozartís score is miraculous, and the castís handling of it was precise and impassioned.

But the play was underacted. The libretto begs for broad comedic gestures, for really blowing up the joint, and more often than not the laughs came from the audience reading the translation projected above the stage, not directly from the actors or the action. Only Camille Zamora, as the conniving maid Despina, was allowed to really stretch and fill her role, and her constant big-eyed mugging was needed and welcome, especially in the second act, which featured lengthy solo pieces lacking in the spark or spite of the group work. The manipulated sisters, played by Anne-Sophie Duprels and Sandra Paques Eddy, were given no depth at all, and their lovers got only a little more: Palle Knudson, who has a great physical presence on stage, occasionally had a pratfall, but the superb tenor John Tessier spent most of the play looking befuddled. Sanford Sylvanís role as the instigator Alfonso was largely limited to looking conspiratorially at the audience.

The set was big, with impressive moving walls and automatically opening doors, but spare. For all of the beautiful music and glorious singing, CosŪ felt like half a loaf.

Driving home, conversation about a just-seen opera usually carries us all the way to Guilderland. We were barely onto to Route 20 when my partner said ďI really donít have much to say about that one.Ē Me, too.

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