We all hope to be free of the pandemic in the New Year. In the meantime, we can enjoy a modern day twist on some old favourites.
No one should trivialise Covid-19, given the threat it poses to both lives and livelihoods, but there comes a point when you just have to laugh. That, at least, is the philosophy of Finnish National Opera and Ballet, where Minna Lindgren has rewritten the libretto of Mozart’s masterpiece for our times!
The evening begins with a rather good performance of the Prelude to Die Walküre, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen, before the ‘director’ stops the show and explains that, owing to current circumstances, they will perform Mozart instead.
The six characters of Così fan tutte proceed to take us on the type of journey we have all been on in recent months, with arias on mask wearing and the trials and tribulations of lockdown (such as staying fit and teaching children) rubbing shoulders with explorations of ministerial policy.
It is a fabulous cast with Karita Mattila, nominally playing Despina, going to town as a diva who is used to singing Wagner around the world, and thus furious at being grounded. Although it primarily utilises the score of Così there are a few bits from Le nozze di Figaro and Don Giovanni thrown in, and the one criticism is that little attempt is made to link what happens in this instance to the plot of the original opera. The closest things ever come is when Mattila produces a vaccine to the music that normally sees Despina administer the antidote after the soldiers have ‘poisoned’ themselves.
Nevertheless, when some productions can take years to plan, it is impressive this was put together so quickly, and if you want a good laugh in the depths of December, Covid fan tutte should be just the ticket.