Review: Mozart's Cosi fan tutte, Glyndebourne

REVIEW BY Susan King

Wednesday, 25th August 2021, 8:30 pm
Cosi fan tutte © Tom Hammick

It's not often, on such an exalted stage as Glyndebourne, you can meet a hero who looks like the younger Johnny Depp but acts with the razor-sharp physical humour of an early Eric Morecambe. But he was there, larger than life, Huw Montague Rendall playing Guglielmo, one of the two sly lovers in Mozart's Cosi fan tutte. We shouldn't overlook Ferrando played by the equally talented Konu Kim (Ferrando) whose blistering tenor equalled the forceful baritone of Rendall.

But the hideously handsome Rendall displayed the charismatic presence needed to convey, in a flick of the eyelid, the impression he had left on his best friend's fiancee - and clearly in her bed.

This Cosi was a total joy from start to finish. It is billed as a comedic tragedy, clearly in times when fidelity was highly valued. Perhaps today it might be overlooked as a mere casual dalliance.

The story is complicated, but then opera libretti always are. Two friends take a bet on the loyalty of their respective fiancees and stage an elaborate plot to disguise themselves as 'Albanian gentlemen' to woo their unknowing lady friends. To their horror (and there's a lot going on in the meantime) the lady friends succumb to their overtures, but by the final curtain decency overcomes deceit and honour is, marginally, restored. The moral? Don't trust anyone - this is the way of the world and you'd better get used to it.

A word about the sensational, sizzling presence of Hera Hyesang Park as Despina - possibly earning a place as 'best in show.' She blazed from the stage and got the most laughs too, both as Despina and, in disguise as a doctor and the notary.

Also starring in Monday night's performance was Glyndebourne itself, all got up with scented roses, tobacco plants and lilies which oozed sensuality amongst the statuary as it grew dark. It was warm enough for all but three (one was me) of the operagoers to favour a picnic on the lawn rather than in the protective marquee. But then I didn't have a big, strong Guglielmo to carry my table and chairs.

You've missed this performance this year but hopefully it will return another year. If so Glyndebourne, please retain this magical cast.

And soon the Glyndebourne Tour will be upon us with even more delicious treats in store.

Susan King