The Skylight’s mid-century modern “Cosi fan tutte”

By - Mar 21st, 2011 04:00 am
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Kathy Pyeatt (L) and Lindsey Falduto are pretty sure that beatniks Brandon Wood (front) and Mark Womack are their boyfriends in disguise. FroPhoto for the Skylight.

Take Mozart’s brilliant music, add a dash of comedy/drama from The Office, and transport it all to 1958 Chicago. This is the set up for Skylight Opera Theatre’s new English-language production of Mozart and Da Ponte’s Così fan tutte. Fresh, witty, and bawdy, the libretto by Dimitri Toscas has zing and plenty of modern cultural references for those in the know. (Riffs on jazz, Beyoncé, and Elvis play to good comic effect).

Ken Goldstein’s clever period set frames the action. Sisters Flora and Dora and their boyfriends Elmer and Randall all work at the same office for their jaded boss, Fonzarello, and the put-upon head secretary, Miss Desi.

On Saturday night, the cast and orchestra, led by Pasquale Laurino, presented a solid musical performance. The singers had good range, intonation and diction. The acting, stage direction and blocking helped convey the emotion and drama of the story.

Wood and Womack woo their girls via phone, with the help of Peter Kendall Clark, as Fonzarello. FroPhoto for the Skylight.

Kathy Pyeatt and Lindsey Falduto shone as Flora (Fiordiligi) and Dora (Dorabella) from the moment the sisters woke up in the morning to go to the office and sang their opening duet. The “boyfriends” did an equally fine job. Brandon Wood was the sensitive Randall (Ferrando); Mark Womack playing Elmer (Guglielmo) with energy and braggadocio. Danielle Hermon Wood was a versatile and poised Miss Desi (Despina), embodying all her roles and disguises with certainty and comic energy. As characterized by Peter Clark, Fonzarello (Don Alfonso) is a jaded big-business boss who in the end may have a heart after all.

This opera has been criticized as sexist and silly. The Skylight’s revisionist production shows both genders engaged in a battle of wit and of heart and not always behaving so well amid the fray. In the end, though, we’re all cosi fan tutte, because we’re all looking for someone to love.

Cosi fan Tutti runs at the Skylight’s Broadway Theatre Center through April 3. Tickets are $23-$65 at the Skylight box office, 414 291-7800, and at the company’s website.

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