Monday, July 27, 2015

Summer Theatre Summer: Così fan tutte

Hello from Sweden! I'm still on my holiday trip, but I've decided to test blogging on the go... So behold, Some Superfluous Opinions' first smartphone review!

Ulriksdals slott is a Swedish royal palace built in the 17th century. The palace is complete with a theatre founded in the 1750s, today known as Ulriksdals Slottsteater Confidencen.

Sitting in the old theatre, watching the rococo-style sets illuminated by candles, it was easy to imagine being a 18th century noblewoman myself. I pictured myself wearing a wig and a gown, living in a mansion. Then I pictured the shower not being invented yet, not having anesthesia or antibiotics. Probably dying of the sweating sickness as a 17-year-old. Enough of that daydream, I'm glad to live in the 21st century!

However - Confidencen's production of W. A. Mozart's comic opera Così fan tutte is a lovely trip back in time that highlights the beautiful aspects of the 18th century.

The plot of this world-famous opera is not very deep or thought-provoking. Two young officers swear their fiancées will be eternally true to them, but their older and more cynical friend believes there's no such thing as a faithful woman. They make a bet: for 24 hours, the officers will do as the friend says, and if true love still prevails by the end of the day, they win. So - the friend dresses the officers in fake moustaches and exotic uniforms and orders them to woo each other's girls. (Spoilers: as you can expect, true love does not prevail.)

I suppose the charm of this piece isn't the story or the dubious moral, but Mozart's music. But I'm not an expert in opera. While I found the music beautiful and the singers talented, I was the most fascinated by how the production looked like.

As I mentioned, the theatre dates back to the 18th century. It's been restored to look like it used to 250 years ago. And not only the foyer and the auditorium - it's old-fashioned all the way to the stage tech! The theatre has historical-style sets and lights. Così fan tutte is performed by candlelight.

It was fascinating to watch the performers moving in and out of the flickering shadows with their beautiful costumes and heavy stage-makeup. The stage was of course a lot darker than in modern theatres, but the shadows cast by the real flames looked like nothing I've seen onstage so far. Changing the lovely 2D sets could turn a day into a night, even if the lighting stayed dim. Adding to the unique atmosphere, the Italian-language opera wasn't subtitled, so you had to figure out the plot from the acting and the brief scenes featuring Swedish recitative...

Back in the 18th century, this was a theatre fit for the queen. She probably didn't think it was anything special, an ordinary theatre just like the others. But for a modern-day commoner, the experience is enchanting.

Ulriksdals Slottsteater Confidencen's Così fan tutte is well worth seeing for both the lovely music and the historical atmosphere. Experience the magic of the 18th century, with none of the plague!

Strongly recommended.

Pictures from Ulriksdals Slottsteater Confidencen's Facebook page.

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