So Fans All
|Cosi Fan Tutte - Opera San Jose|
I recently attended the Opera San Jose performance of Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutte, which a friend informed me upon my obligatory Facebook check-in at the California Theater, was auto-translated as So Fans All, which is an amusing but useless transliteration of Thus Do They All, or The School for Lovers.
The story is as old as theater. A tale of disguised lovers testing the fidelity of their fiancés. 2 gentlemen, soldiers two, disguise themselves as noblemen of Albania (or is it Wallachia) and proceed to seduce each other's betrothed. Unfortunately for the gentlemen in question, with success. But as they say, all's well that ends well, they end the evening with the correct (original) partners and the wedding contracts are signed before a real notary, as opposed to the sly servant Despina.
This was my first show at Opera San Jose. I had listened to Cosi before, but had never seen a production. I grew up around opera to some extent. My father loved the Italian composers and had a nice collection of the classics on 78 RPM discs, which he would spin on a stereo that was built into a piece of furniture, as was the style back in the 1960s. I enjoyed listening, but had never delved deep and had only seen a handful of performances during my adult life. Having long desired to attend some live performances, I decided to purchase season tickets for the 2017-2018 season and attend in proper Opera Widower fashion, solo, the wife not being in the least interested in joining me.
My seats were at the front, center of the mezzanine section, which was a quite enjoyable way to view the stage. From above, but not all the way to the back, with no obstructions in front of me. One can see the entire stage and enjoy the show in a more full screen way, than one would from the orchestra. The acoustics at the California Theater are pleasing and I did not have too much trouble hearing all of the performers. Some players had, perhaps, not strong enough voices to rise above the orchestra, but mostly the singers were clearly audible and lovely from my vantage point.
For me, the stand out was Malcolm MacKenzie as Don Alfonso. As well as a strong and pleasing baritone, he brought out the humor in the play with some laugh out loud scenes. Not quite as strong a voice, but a great comedic performance by Maria Valdes as Despina, who really has some of the best scenes in the piece.
The 4 leads were all fun to watch and gave very enjoyable vocal performances. David Blalock as Ferrando, Colin Ramsey as Guglienlmo, Amanda Kingston as Fiordiligi and Cassandra Zoé Velasco as Dorabella.
Opera San Jose maintains a resident company of principal artists and showcases young professional talent. This season, along with Cosi Fan Tutte, they will be performing Puccini's La Rondine, Verdi's La Traviata and Wagner's The Flying Dutchman.
San Jose can at times be a bit of a cultural wasteland that lives in the shadow of San Francisco, but we are fortunate to have a professional company such as Opera San Jose.