Back from a terrific, but sadly unbloggable, business trip to Beijing.
Just before leaving went with friends to see Rosy Joshua in Cosi at Covent Garden. This is the Jonathan Miller production which he did on a shoestring, so it's very minimalist in terms of set. However they had Colin Davis conducting and a terrific cast, with Thomas Allen as Alfonso, and some very fine young singers as the lovers: Charles Castronovo (Ferrando), Nikolay Borchev (Guglielmo), Malin Byström (Fiordiligi) and Michèle Losier (Dorabella). Sadly at the beginning the Director of Opera came on to announce that Tom Allen was taken ill, and they were forced to have the role sung from the sidelines by Carlo Lepore (who was singing Bartolo in Figaro) with the young assistant director doing the actions onstage. People were offered vouchers for their money back if they wanted to leave and a very few did. It was an excellent performance but of course would have been even more wonderful if Tom Allen had been on stage.
Sir Colin did indeed take it quite slowly, and as a result the sublime aspects of the music really came out. The famously ravishing trio Soave sia il vento brought tears to the eyes, for example. I know this opera pretty well, but there were many things I felt I was encountering for the first time. Some nice direction touches as well, like having a CNN cameraman and interviewer interviewing the departing soldiers, and then being paid by Alfonso. And the outlandish "Albanian" costumes were Heavy Metal.
We went backstage afterwards to see Rosy and also met Malin Byström and her charming young daughter (aged 7 I think) who had sat beautifully through the performance near us. Rosy then joined us and our two friends at Sheekys.
Despina can be cast as either very young or quite mature, and although Rosy looks about the same age as the lovers she in fact sang her first Despina 20 years ago. The great thing about having really experienced singers as Despina and Alfonso is that they can bring out the younger ones and indeed they have apparently grown considerably in confidence during the run.
I know we aren't meant to take the plot too seriously, but it's interesting to note that the stake (100 sequins=ducats) is 350g of gold or just over £12k at today's prices. And clearly the girls are orphans in somewhat reduced circumstances (no parents, their chief servant a maid) so very much reliant on making a marriages.