The University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s opera program is bringing Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s opera “Così Fan Tutte” to the Kimball Recital Hall stage Feb. 23 and 25.
Presented by the Glenn Korff School of Music, performances are 7:30 p.m. Feb. 23 and 3 p.m. Feb. 25. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students and seniors. They are available in advance from the Lied Center box office by calling 402-472-4747 or at the door.
The opera’s full title, “Così Fan Tutte, Ossia La Scuola Degli Amanti,” translates to “Thus Do They All, Or The School For Lovers.” The opera was first performed in 1790 in Vienna, Austria.
The story begins with a wily, old cynic and experimental philosopher, Don Alfonso, who determines to overturn the perfect, formulaic worlds of two young men, Ferrando and Guglielmo. He bets them that their respective fiancées would not stay faithful for a moment if put to the test, and the challenge is accepted.
“’Così Fan Tutte’ is a comic, Italian opera with a lot of good laughs, but it also makes you think,” said Brianna Smith, a graduate student in music. “In the midst of the comedy, it is also a story of forgiveness, love and the wisdom that comes from going through trying situations. It’s an interesting story with an interesting ending.”
William Shomos, Larson Distinguished Professor of Music and director of opera, directs the cast of six singers.
“It’s a terrific cast with a lot of experience,” Shomos said. “’Così’ really is an ensemble piece with its six equally weighted roles.”
Smith plays Despina, the maid of the two sisters.
“She is a feisty woman with an interesting take on love and life,” Smith said. “In a lot of ways, she is the voice of reason with a cynical side, telling the girls not to put too much of their faith in men or relationships. Playing her is a lot of fun because she takes charge and has a way of saying what’s on her mind.”
Matthew Clegg, a graduate student, plays Ferrando.
“Ferrando is, above all, completely devoted and in love with Dorabella,” Clegg said. “He is young, idealistic and somewhat more even-tempered than his friend Guglielmo. A large part of the story involves Ferrando and Guglielmo disguising themselves in order to try and tempt their fianceés. It is very enjoyable to play a character who in turn is trying to act as someone other than themselves.”
Shomos is also working with four graduate designers from the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film for set, lighting and costume design and props, including set designer Lisa Haldeman.
“When we started the process, Lisa didn’t have any experience with this opera, so I just wanted to let her loose,” Shomos said. “I’ve produced the opera a few times before, and I was interested in how someone looking at the piece and listening to it for the first time would respond. She conceptualized the piece in its original 18th century setting, so I suppose you could say this will be a ‘traditional’ production.”
Smith said audiences should expect an intriguing story portrayed through beautiful music.
“Mozart and Da Ponte, the librettist, created something that transports audiences,” Smith said. “In this way, I think people will find themselves getting attached to the characters and wrapped up in the twists the story takes. The audience will root for love throughout the story and wonder how it’s going to end, all the way up until the last moment.”