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In the hands of director/librettist Matthew Bissett, the Fiordiligi and Dorabella in Burnaby Lyric Opera's Cosi fan tutte (Feb./Mar.) showed a new and refreshing side to their characters. Set in a sorority house with Despina as the housemother, two adolescent girls, their hockey-jock boyfriends and a manipulative hockey coach named Don all fuelled great intrigue and a lot of laughs.

Soprano Robyn Driedger-Klassen (Fiordiligi) and mezzo Megan Morrison (Dorabella) made a dramatically credible and hilariously funny duo. Their voices blended seamlessly, while retaining their individual clarity and articulation (important in a performance in English with no surtitles). Soprano Teresa Connors played Despina as a woman past her best-before date with a drinking problem, a skillfully sung characterization that got funnier as the evening progressed.

The boys--tenor Sam Chung (Ferrando) and baritone Aaron Durand (Guglielmo)--played off each other beautifully as believable university rink rats with little to show in the integrity department. In Act II, when they shed their hockey-practice gear and turned-back hats to appear as suave Brooks Brothers men, they modulated their voices to suit their newly acquired worldliness as determined suitors of each other's girls. Bass baritone Michael MacKinnon as Don Alfonso, the hockey coach, managed to remain likeable even though he was instrumental in wrecking two relationships. His height made him a visually dominating figure as well as a vocally impressive character. Music Director David Boo-throyd provided stylistic support from the pit grand piano.

The stage was set with few props, but with a huge back-screen-projected cell phone that was used for the characters to text each other to make pithy comments on the action. Bissett made a new and contemporary comedy from an old score, honoring the integrity of Mozart's music while catching the upbeat mood of Olympic times in British Columbia.
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Author:Clark, Hilary
Publication:Opera Canada
Article Type:Concert review
Date:Jun 22, 2010
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