by Christine Sarkes
Mill City Summer Opera at the renovated Mill City Museum Ruin Courtyard is a breathtaking and unique summer treat. The stage is set amidst the outdoor ruins of the old factory. The nearby river sounds and evening light cast a magical spell over the production. This will be your last chance to see opera at this venue. The Minnesota Historical Society, which operates the Mill City Museum, has elected not to extend MCSO’s contract, making 2019 the final season for opera at the Museum. Cosi fan tutte (All Women Do It) is considered to be one of Mozart’s most “controversial” operas, because the plot focuses on proving the inconstancy of a woman’s love through deception and fiancee-swapping. This allows for many comic moments as the farce plays out. The opera is sung in Italian with English supertitles onscreen above the stage. Minnesota natives Heather Johnson (Despina), Sarah Larsen (Dorabella), Andrew Wilkowske (Don Alfonso) and Karin Wolverton (Fiordiligi) are joined by Javier Abreu (Ferrando) and Sidney Outlaw (Guglielmo). This production updates the setting with WWII costuming and culture, bringing in a bit of Americana with the love-sick officers disguised as Alabama cowboys to pull off deception (originally Albanians). The misogynistic themes might not sit well with all audience members, but the satirical take on relationships does offer laughs and lovely musical moments. Johnson and Wilkowske are delightful as Despina and Don Alfonso, respectively, as is the entire cast.
The action begins in a cafe. Two young officers, Ferrando and Guglielmo, are bragging about the fidelity of their fiancees, the sisters Dorabella and Fiordiligi. Don Alfonso, an older friend, says that no women are ever truly, faithful. Alfonso bets the two young men a hundred gold pieces that if they do everything he says, their lovers will betray them. Ferrando and Guglielmo confidently accept the wager. According to Alfonso’s plan, the two men will pretend they’ve been called away to war. While the women are mourning their absence, the men will return in disguise and do their best to seduce each other’s girlfriends. If they succeed, Alfonso wins the bet. Alfonso enlists the help of Despina, a maid, to set the trap for the two sisters.
Cosi fan tutte, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Directed by Crystal Manich, music direction by Brian DeMaris. Mill City Museum Courtyard Ruins, 704 S. Second St., Minneapolis. Tickets: $50-$125 at box office: 612-875-5544 or millcitysummeropera.org. Rush tickets ($35) will be available for all performances the day of show at 6:00 pm at the Mill City Museum. Remaining performances are: Tuesday, July 16 at 7:30 pm; Wednesday, July 17 at 10:00 am – Young Audience (special 1-hour program); Thursday, July 18 at 7:30 pm; Saturday, July 20 at 7:30 pm; Monday, July 22 at 7:30 pm; Wednesday, July 24 at 7:30 pm.