Today’s lunchtime concert in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre featured members of the COC Studio Ensemble performing extracts from Act 1 of Così fan tutte as a teaser for their performance of Atom Egoyan’s production on February 7th. This promises to beeven more confusing than usual as the young lover roles are all being shared to accommodate everyone. Today, Clraence Frazer and Danielle MacMillan being sick we had but one Guglielmo, Cameron McPhail, and one Dorabella, Charlotte Burrage. Andrew Haji and Owen McAusland alternated as Ferrando and Sasha Djihanian and Aviva Fortunata doubled Fiordiligi (those two, at least, are easy to tell apart). Gordon Bintner sang Don Alphonso and Claire de Sévigné played Despina.
We got most of the big act 1 numbers and the standard of singing was uniformly high. So much so that it seems invidious to single anybody out. And everybody includes Michael Shannon at the piano who did a sterling job. What was very apparent was how much fun everybody was having with the piece. The excerpts were semi-staged; no costumes or scenery but lots of acting and lots of improvised props. Ah, guarda sorella with cellphone pics for example.. Rather than a blow by blow maybe I should just describe the Act 1 finale which was played through from the entry of the Albanians with the poison to the curtain. The boys poisoned themselves with Starbucks coffee and were revived by the potato masher that Despina found in her handbag. Their “death throes” were hilarious and their recovery even more so. Dorabella managed a very impressive slap to Guglielmo’s chops which given where his hands had been for most of the scene wasn’t a big surprise. And all this sung at a very impressive standard.