Audiences welcomed the the Pitt State Opera Theater and the Southeast Kansas Symphony to Bicknell Family Center for the Arts for their performance of the historic opera “Cosi fan tutte,” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Friday, Feb. 14, 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Feb. 16, 3 p.m.
The Pittsburg State University Music Department sponsored the presentation—a comedic story about women’s faithfulness, played out against a backdrop of disguises, false goodbyes and deceptions.
“Così fan tutte” means “They all act like that” or, in other words, “All women deceive men.”
Johnathon Miller, British director said, “…it’s not about fidelity, it’s about identity. It’s about what happens when you dress up and pretend to be someone else.”
“It’s definitely about the men having fun at the women’s expense, unfortunately,” said Patrick Howle, stage director and PSU music instructor. “So, there is that mistaken identity thing going on. But I think it’s all in fun, and I don’t think the men, for a second, believe that the women would be unfaithful to them.”
The orchestra was directed by Pittsburg State University’s Raul Munguia. The show opened with the “Overture to Cosi fan Tutte.”
This production took months of preparation and a lot of hard work.
“It’s a lot of work,” Munguia said. “Very intense work. This is like coming out of the winter break and touching ground generally. It’s like ‘boom’ 90 miles per hour. And that’s how it feels, because we have to put together this opera in four and a half weeks… so, the cast have been working on this for a month, month, month. But the orchestra, because of all our engagements that we have, we can only start right in January. So, all these three hours and fifty minutes of music was put just in four and a half weeks.”
“It’s a long work, so it takes a lot of stamina,” Howle said. “There are only six singers total, so they don’t get a lot of breaks. There was one (performance) on Friday with a different cast of female singers…but the men have sung both performances.”
While they agree it was a difficult work, everyone involved said it was a fun project, as well.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Thomas Deane, junior in music education. Deane portrayed Guglielmo, one of only three male characters that made up the cast.
“We’ve been working on this particular show since last semester,” Deane said. “We did a lot of work, but it was fun to do it. We have basically been working on all the musical sections of the show since even before we started this last semester. So, we’ve been working on this music (a long time).”
Deane said it was important to practice as a group and work well together.
“Most Mozart is a lot of really taxing lines for men and women, all of us, to sing,” he said. “So. singing all together has been an important thing to get going through the thing at once, because it’s a lot of work and a lot of strain on the voice if you’re not careful.”
Sarah Dunivan, senior in music education, portrayed Fiordiligi, one of the betrothed sisters in the story. She agreed that the production was hard to put together in such a short time.
“It’s very difficult to do it…like to actually put it into motion and remember everything just because it so confusing, and the music is very, very, very hard,” Dunivan said. “It took us a lot of work, just in the past couple weeks, just to like get it up to par pretty much. But it’s a fun opera and I’m really glad we did it. And the experience really helped us grow.”
Other members of the cast included Pitt State Gorillas: Whitely Chesney—Fiordiligi; Nicole Kelly and Madison Westerfelt—Dorabella; Hannah Overby and Taylor Qualls—Despina; Alexander Chesney—Ferrando; and Courtland Reinholtz—Don Alfonzo.