Yesterday I found myself at the opera again. What is better than to enjoy some beautiful music in a pleasant atmosphere far off chores and worries. I have two exams coming up soon and I really needed some time off studying. I tend to isolate myself quite a bit when it comes to exams and prefer to stay at home and work than go out. But sometimes you just have enough of that and you need something to distract you – then instead of watching a movie at home I grab my coat and go for an opera.
I have never seen the “Cosi fan tutte” before. It is by Mozart and the only opera that I have seen from him is the “The Magic Flute” (yes I am well aware that I live in Vienna and I should have seen more of his works by now). However, let me now just say, and maybe be lynched afterwards, that I was quit unimpressed with the opera. I read the plot as usual in advance and I had great expectations. From what I’ve imagined it was going to be a quite funny and witty opera and of course when it is written by a genius like Mozart it should be amazing, shouldn’t it?
I got to talking with one of the staff members and even she stated that it is a quite boring opera. I was stunned – wasn’t it supposed to be quite the opposite. I got my place and I was waiting for the performance to begin. I always have this tingling feeling inside that makes me a bit anxious before the performance, almost as if I was on stage. I don’t know why exactly does this happen but it is almost like a small adrenaline rush. I guess that is what the deal is with being an opera junkie.
The opera is neither too long, nor too short – just the right amount of 3.5 hours which is a pretty normal thing considering Wagner’s operas which sometimes can go up to four and even more hours. Therefore, I had expected that I will quite enjoy the performance for all the right reasons.
I would lie if I say it is a bad opera, but I’ll be quite honest by saying I was not impressed. The music is pleasant, everyone sang amazing but it just lacks this spark, this little magic that makes you hum the melody for days afterwards. There were no fireworks! Of course I laughed a couple of times at the funny scenes, however, I found my mind always wandering somewhere else and being almost incapable on solemnly focusing on the music itself.
The staging is also not that impressive. It is understandable since the premier was in 1994 and is not changed since then. It is quite conservative. What I like was this small boat/ ship thing that appears to take the two young men to war. It was an interesting representation but other than that this could have been achieved as well as in the 19th century (maybe they were aiming for Mozart times). I should also state that the Viennese audience is quite demanding and looks critically at every new staging. I was present at the premier of “Don Pasquale” and saw in person such a negative reaction from the people that I was shocked (but that is a whole different story). The main point is, for a staging to be successful here, it should be perfectly balanced – neither too old, nor to modern.
Next time, sadly, I guess I would skip “Cosi fan tutte” when it reappears in the program. It is an opera that is, let’s put it that way, enough to be seen once every ten years, at least for me. If I have the whole free time in the world maybe every two years :D, but when I have to juggle between all my responsibilities and uni, I think it will be enough for now.
If you still haven’t seen it or you want something that is not very demanding, I would recommend it. Still, if it will be your first time at the opera, I would suggest picking something else from the rich repertoire of the Vienna State Opera. There is a lot to be discovered.
(c) Cosi fan tutte/ wiener-staatsoper.at