New Production of Mozart's Così fan tutte, November 21–December 3

Release date: 10/27/2021


Director Michael Cavanagh's Mozart-Da Ponte Trilogy Continues with Second Chapter Set in a 1930s American Country Club

Henrik Nánási Conducts Ensemble Cast of Nicole Cabell, Irene Roberts, Nicole Heaston, Ben Bliss, John Brancy and Ferruccio Furlanetto

COSI FAN TUTTE.pdf  Photos

San Francisco Opera presents Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s 1790 comedy Così fan tutte from November 21–December 3. Director Michael Cavanagh’s new production, part two of the Company’s Mozart-Da Ponte Trilogy, sets the opera’s amorous deceptions and confusions in a 1930s American country club. Henrik Nánási returns to the podium to conduct an ensemble cast of sopranos Nicole Cabell and Nicole Heaston, mezzo-soprano Irene Roberts, tenor Ben Bliss in his Company debut, baritone John Brancy and bass Ferruccio Furlanetto. In addition to tickets for the five performances at the War Memorial Opera House, virtual tickets are now available to livestream the first three performances on November 21 (2 pm), 23 (7:30 pm) and 27 (7:30 pm); all times Pacific.

Così fan tutte follows two friends, Ferrando and Guglielmo, who are so convinced of their fiancées’ devotion that they are willing to bet on it, disguising themselves as strangers to test the women’s fidelity. Humorous and, at times, deeply poignant, the opera features one of Mozart’s most heartfelt scores with arias and ensembles that reveal the characters’ humanity as they navigate ecstatic reveries and bitter disenchantments.

Cavanagh’s Mozart-Da Ponte Trilogy sets the three masterpieces produced by the partnership of Mozart and Italian poet Lorenzo Da Ponte within an American house over three eras. The multi-season project launched in 2019 with the acclaimed production of The Marriage of Figaro (Le Nozze di Figaro) set in colonial times when the manor house is newly completed. Così fan tutte takes place in the 1930s and the house, now at its zenith, has been converted into a playground for the rich. Next summer, the trilogy concludes with Don Giovanni, set in a distant future where the house is in ruins and its inhabitants navigate an uncertain world. Though not originally conceived by Mozart and Da Ponte as a trilogy, Cavanagh and the creative team of set designer Erhard Rom, costume designer Constance Hoffman and lighting designer Jane Cox have found storytelling possibilities in considering these three foundational works of the opera repertory as a unified arc.

Cavanagh said, “Though it was the last of Mozart and Da Ponte’s three collaborations, Così fan tutte belongs in the middle between Figaro and Don Giovanni because it’s about people and society at a crossroads. The location is the same as in Figaro, but the times have changed enormously in the intervening 150 years and the colonial manor has been repurposed as a country club. The opera’s characters find amusement in diversions but the decisions they make for themselves and each other will affect their lives forever, just as the nation itself will soon be forever changed with the winds of war swirling in Europe.”

Hailed for her “richly expressive soprano” (New York Times) as Bess in Gershwin’s Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, soprano Nicole Cabell sings the role of Mozart’s Fiordiligi for the first time in this production. A former winner of the Cardiff Singer of the World competition, Cabell has appeared with San Francisco Opera as Giulietta in Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi and as Violetta in Verdi’s La Traviata. Mezzo-soprano Irene Roberts, currently a resident artist at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, returns to the War Memorial Opera House stage as Fiordiligi’s sister, Dorabella. Roberts’ previous appearances with San Francisco Opera have included Bao Chai in Bright Sheng’s Dream of the Red Chamber, the title role of Bizet’s Carmen and Giulietta in Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann.

Tenor Ben Bliss makes his Company debut as Ferrando, a role he has performed to great acclaim with the Metropolitan Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Canadian Opera Company and other theaters. At the Met, the Kansas City native has also distinguished himself in Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail and a family version of The Magic Flute, for which the New York Times praised his “tender yet ample lyric tenor voice and earnestness.” Baritone John Brancy, who portrays Guglielmo, first appeared with the Company as Donald in Britten’s Billy Budd in the fall of 2019. A few months earlier, he was acknowledged for bringing “frothing intensity” (New Yorker) to Meredith Monk’s Atlas in the 2019 staging by the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Italian bass Ferruccio Furlanetto first appeared with San Francisco Opera in 1979 in Ponchielli’s La Gioconda and has returned on numerous occasions, including commanding performances in the title role of Verdi’s Attila (2012) and Philip II in the same composer’s Don Carlo (2016). The Italian bass takes on Don Alfonso, the gentleman philosopher who instigates the opera’s drama with his wager. Soprano Nicole Heaston made her 2019 Company debut as the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro. The acclaimed interpreter of the works of Mozart returns this season for the second chapter of the trilogy as the maid, Despina.

Henrik Nánási conducted San Francisco Opera’s presentation of The Marriage of Figaro in 2019, demonstrating, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, that his “buoyant, skillful leadership in the Company’s 2017 Elektra [Nánási’s local debut] turns out to have been no fluke.” The Hungarian maestro returns to lead the San Francisco Opera, Chorus and cast in Mozart’s masterpiece, which is often considered the quintessential ensemble opera. Ian Robertson prepares the Chorus in the last stage production of his 35-season career as the Company’s chorus director before retiring at the end of the year.

Sung in Italian with English supertitles, the five performances of Così fan tutte are scheduled for November 21 (2 p.m.), November 23 (7:30 p.m.), November 27 (7:30 p.m.); December 1 (7:30 p.m.) and December 3 (7:30 p.m.). Virtual tickets are available to livestream the first three performances (November 21, 23 and 27) enabling audiences to experience San Francisco Opera from anywhere in the world. Each livestreamed performance will be presented live only; on-demand is not available.

*For the complete press release, including cast and calendar, please view the attached PDF.