Mozart’s rollercoaster comic opera Così fan tutte returns to the English National Opera

This March, the ‘hilarious production’ that ‘combines clever comedy and sublime arias’ (Daily Express), Mozart’s Così fan tutte returns to the English National Opera (ENO). Last staged in 2014, Mozart’s dark comic masterpiece that is ‘funny, fast and farcical’ (What’s On Stage), is brought to life by the multi-award winning director and Artistic Director of Improbable, Phelim McDermott. 

Così fan tutte tells the story of a bet between the two young men Ferrando and Guglielmo and the philosopher Don Alfonso about the fidelity of their fiancées, Fiordiligi and Dorabella. Deception, disguise, deceit and desire are played out in a world where make-believe and reality are fantastically blurred in the ENO’s fresh take on the opera. Mozart’s sublime score, featuring some of his most famous music, unfolds to tell a story of love and desire. 

Phelim McDermott and theatre company Improbable return to the ENO after the recently revived and critically acclaimed production of Philip Glass’s Satyagraha in October 2021. McDermott and set designer Tom Pye have set the opera in a faded 1950’s Coney Island, New York inspired seaside town complete with pleasure garden, fairground rides, and an end-of-the-pier circus sideshow with sensational acts. This creates a ‘spectacular setting for the amorous carryings-on’ (The Observer). The ‘splendidly decorated’ (The Times) artwork of traditional fairground artist and sign writer Joby Carter adds an authentic feel to the production.

Joining the cast of singers and the ENO Chorus is a 12 strong skills ensemble who will become the somewhat sinister circus acts and assist Don Alfonso in his deceit. They perform a number of roles while showcasing a variety of unique talents including sword-swallowing, acrobatics, contortion and fire-eating.

Making his ENO debut and joining the ENO Orchestra in the pit is British conductor Kerem Hasan. Hasan has been the Chief Conductor of the Tyrolean Symphony Orchestra Innsbruck since 2019. Prior to this, he won the prestigious Nestlé and Salzburg Festival Young Conductors Award in 2017 which laid the foundations for a thriving international career. In 2016 Hasan became a finalist in the Donatella Flick Conducting Competition, after which he was awarded the title of Associate Conductor at Welsh National Opera. His previous engagements include conducting the London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra and New Japan Philharmonic. 

Making her role debut as Fiordiligi is British soprano and current ENO Harewood Artist Nardus Williams. Williams recently shared the role of Mimì in ENO Drive & Live: La bohème and prior to this she made her ENO debut as Micaëla in Carmen in the 2019/20 season at the London Coliseum. During her 2021/22 season, Williams has made her house debut as Mimì in La bohème at Opera Vlaanderen and she has made her highly anticipated return to the Glyndebourne tour as Anne Trulove in The Rake’s Progress where she sung ‘sumptuously’ and with ‘crystalline’ diction (The Sunday Times). 

Singing the role of Fiordiligi’s sister Dorabella is Polish mezzo-soprano Hanna Hipp with her ‘seductive darker hues’ (The Guardian), who is revisiting this role after previously singing it for Seattle Opera. Hipp is an alumnus of the Royal Opera House’s Jette Parker Young Artist Programme. She is returning to the London Coliseum after performing the role of Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro in the ENO’s 2019/20 season. She has since sung the role of Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro for the Royal Opera House with ‘devastating charm’ (The Telegraph) and the role of Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier for Garsington Opera. 

Making his ENO and UK debut is Samoan tenor Amitai Pati who will be singing the role of Ferrando, Dorabella’s fiancé. Pati is known internationally and as a part of the highly successful New Zealand operatic trio Sol3 Mio. He is a former member of the prestigious Adler Fellowship at San Francisco Opera where he returns to sing the role of Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni later this season, and he has performed several roles at New Zealand Opera. He recently made his European debut with Philharmonie de Paris in March 2020 where the French critics commented that he is ‘endowed with a superb tenor voice’ (Toute La Culture). 

New Zealand-born Samoan baritone and current ENO Harewood Artist Benson Wilson sings the role of Guglielmo, Fiordiligi’s fiancé. Wilson is an ‘exciting’ (The i) and multi-award winning performer. In 2019, he was the winner of the prestigious 64th Kathleen Ferrier Award and in the same year he was awarded the Most Outstanding Overseas Performer of the Royal Overseas League Competition. He is returning to the ENO for his second engagement this 2021/22 season, following his performance as Schaunard in La bohème.

The ‘splendid’ (Culture Whisper) Welsh bass-baritone Neal Davies is returning to the London Coliseum to take on the role of philosopher and impresario Don Alfonso. Davies is a regular guest at the Edinburgh Festival and BBC Proms, and he has recorded for major labels. Davies has worked extensively with major international opera houses and orchestras, including the Berlin State Opera, Norwegian National Opera, Bergen National Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Theater an der Wien, Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, London Symphony and Vienna Philharmonic Orchestras. He last performed at the ENO in 2017’s Rodelinda where he sung the role of Garibaldo.

Completing the cast is British soprano and current ENO Harewood Artist Soraya Mafi who is bringing her ‘crystalline tone’ (The Guardian) to the role of the mischievous maid Despina. Mafi recently performed the role of Musetta in ENO Drive & Live: La bohème where she sang ‘with wonderful tenderness’ (The Times) and has previously appeared as Amor in Orpheus and Eurydice, Yum-Yum in The Mikado and Tytania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She has performed principal roles at opera houses including Seattle Opera, Welsh National Opera and Garsington Opera. 

Tom Pye is the Set Designer, Laura Hopkins is the Costume Designer, Paule Constable is the Lighting Designer, Andy Cutbush is the Revival Lighting Designer, and the translation is by Jeremy Sams.  

Così fan tutte opens on Thursday 10 March for 7 performances: March 10, 14, 16, 18, 22 at 19.00. March 12 at 16.00. March 20 at 15.00. 

Signed performance: Wednesday 16 March at 19.00.

Tickets start from £10 (plus booking fee*)

*£2.25 booking fee applies to online and telephone bookings.

Co-produced with the Metropolitan Opera, New York. In collaboration with Improbable.


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