SheReviews: Opera Queensland – Così fan tutte

August 18, 2023

Opening night of Opera Queensland’s (OP) comic two act opera, Cosi fan tutte (translated in English means women are like that), was an absolute success.  Patrons arrived in Italian Chic dress, sipped on Prosecco in readiness for an evening of entertainment. 

First performed in 1790, it was one of three written and produced operas in the space of four years.  In 2023 we continue to embrace Mozart’s story as a modernised version, infused with traditional roles.

Cosi fan tutte is an opera that offers artists a poetic license to explore, interpret and create their characters. 

On stage, the performer’s physical and emotional energy was electric. Their portrayals captured the audience from the beginning.  This uplifting opera, along with the audience had me laughing aloud. Particularly, when the men in disguise physically acted out like two peacocks in mating season showing off their flashy feathers to allure a female. 

There is a deep connection between the audience and the characters. Fully immersed in the story, I found myself moving my head in disbelief from the endless deceit hoping it would soon cease. It is a wonderful entertaining opera for lovers of a comedic story in song.

Congratulations to CEO & Artistic Director, Patrick Nolan who must be thrilled with his clever team of creators and performers followed by the heartfelt audience responses. I am sure Mozart would be proud of OP’s production.

Conductor, Zoe Zeniodi, was as captivating as the onstage performers. Her comment rings true: this masterpiece stands as a remarkable testament to timeless beauty, subtle sensitivity, compassionate universality, generosity of human emotions and unrivalled structural perfection. 

Well done Opera Queensland and Queensland Symphony Orchestra and thank you.

The Story

Sung in Italian, set in the Italian Amalfi Coast, it was a story of desire, lust, love and temptation. 

A quartet of young lovers, Ferrando & Dorabello, and Guglielmo & Fiordiligi rejoice in the pleasures of romance and being in love. Nevertheless, an older cynical friend, Don Alfonso challenges the men on their women’s fidelity believing that all women in essence are unfaithful. 

Confident their women are loyal; the men succumb to a 24-hour game of deception proposed by Don Alfonso who dangles a handsome monetary prize for the winner.

The game required them to advise their girlfriends they had been called back to fight in the war. This in fact is untrue. The men return in disguise as two amorous Albanians and begin to woo the girls in the hope they will succumb to temptation and prove Alfonso wrong. 

During the lover’s charade, the innocent women remain loyal grieving for their fiancé’s. It seems Don Alfonso could be mistaken. 

To assist all three men, behind the scenes housekeeper Despina is enlisted as they continue with their sham. She encourages the women to live for the moment, have a little fun while their men are at war and worry about the consequences later. 

Time soon tells as constant pressure form the flirtatious, cheeky persistent men, with their overpowering pursuit begins to wear down the women’s resistance. They are relentless in proving their partners will remain loyal to a point I thought they have overstepped the mark.  

The housekeeper convinces the girls to have a little fun and flirtation will do no harm. Reluctantly the vulnerable girls find themselves falling into temptation with their suitors. Innocent to the concept of love with another man possible, the underhanded game continues as the girls let their defences down.

Soon events begin to unravel, the truth fidgeting as it waits in the wings when finally, all is revealed.  Don Alfonso admits he contrived the plot, urging for their forgiveness. The lovers are reunited, claiming their honourability was guided by reason and put the past behind them. 

Lead Opera Singers 

Samantha Clarke (Fiordiligi), Anna Dowsley (Dorabella), Leanne Kenneally (Despina), Brenton Spiteri (Ferrando),  Jeremy Kleeman (Guglielmo), Shaun Brown (Don Alfonso).


Opera Queensland:  Cosi fan tutte, Mozart’s game of deception & desire 

@QPAC Playhouse until 26 August 2023 

Tickets available: / 136 246

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