Established and Rising Stars join forces for Saffron Opera Group’s Concert Performance
of Mozart’s Immortal Comedy of Love, Lust And Betrayal
FOR A 13 FEBRUARY REVIEW CLICK HERE
Praise for previous Saffron Opera Group performances
‘Glorious… compelling’ – The Arts Desk
‘Spellbinding… the whole performance seemed to transcend itself’ – The Guardian
After a series of critically acclaimed triumphs presenting the operas of Richard Wagner, Saffron Opera Group turns its attention to the work of an earlier master of the lyric stage. On Sunday 13 February 2022, in Saffron Hall, they present Mozart’s evergreen comedy of fidelity and faithlessness, Così fan tutte.
Composed in 1790 at the height of Mozart’s powers, the opera tells the story of two men who are convinced of their lovers’ fidelity. A cynical old friend persuades them to make a bet on such unlikely faithfulness. The men are ordered to don disguises and woo the other’s beloved. But what starts as a jolly jape soon turns into something far more disturbing, when powerful and unexpected emotions are unleashed and all the lovers’ lives are changed forever. The title translates literally as ‘that’s how all women behave’ but Mozart’s sublime music and emotional subtlety protects the opera from charges of misogyny. Indeed, so ambiguous is the ultimate resolution, that opera-lovers and academics have been arguing over the actual message of the work for over two hundred years.
And now they will have yet another chance to ponder its mystery, when Saffron Opera presents the work in a concert performance, in the superb acoustics of Saffron Hall.
The internationally successful Anglo-Swiss baritone Richard Burkhard takes on the role of the cynical and manipulative Don Alfonso. He will be familiar to Saffron Opera Group audiences for his masterful portrayal of Amfortas in Parsifal, which Seen and Heard International described as ‘a revelation – anguished, deeply moving and compelling’. As at home in comedy as in tragedy, his recent slapstick turn as Major-General Stanley in The Pirates of Penzance at Opera Holland Park garnered universal acclaim.
Don Alfonso’s partner-in-crime is the maid Despina, who aids the plot by various disguises and stratagems. The role is sung here by the highly regarded soprano Fflur Wyn, who has sung leading roles at all of the major British opera houses. After her appearance in the title role in Alice in Wonderland at Opera Holland Park, The Guardian hailed her as ‘an out-and-out star… a gifted actor whose warmly lyrical soprano carries effortlessly.’
The roles of the four young lovers are taken by rising stars of the opera world. Soprano Jessica Cale (Fiordiligi) has already made an impressive mark by taking first prize at the prestigious Kathleen Ferrier Awards in 2020, and winning the coveted Audience Prize at the London Handel Festival Singing Competition. The critic of Opera Today was bowled over by her performance in the former, and hailed the ‘strength, expanse, nuance and discernment’ of her voice. She is partnered by mezzo Rebecca Afonwy-Jones (Dorabella), who has sung for Scottish Opera, Opera North and Welsh National Opera, and whom Classical Source praised for her ‘lustrous tone, generous phrasing and natural ease of communication.’
As for the male side of the quartet of lovers, Guglielmo is sung by baritone Marcus Farnsworth, fresh from successes with English National Opera and Boston Lyric Opera. For his performance in Mark Anthony Turnage’s Greek, The Daily Telegraph noted his ‘electrifying and instinctive musicality’ and predicted ‘a great career ahead of him.’ Like Richard Burkhard, he is a master at comedy too, and his charming performance as Strephon in Iolanthe at ENO was a rib-tickling treat. Ferrando is sung by the young Scottish tenor Liam Bonthrone, an emerging artist, a popular finalist in the 2020 Kathleen Ferrier competition and already much in demand as a concert and oratorio soloist. His operatic work includes a season at Garsington Opera as an Alvarez Young Artist and his international debut as Bruno in Bellini’s I puritani with the Rotterdam Operakoor.
The hand-picked orchestra is led, as usual, by Michael Thorne, who has developed an international reputation for his extraordinary work with Saffron Opera Group in their continuing Wagnerian journey.
Saffron Opera Group was founded by opera-loving Saffron Walden residents Paul Garland and Francis Lambert in 2014 and hit the ground running with a performance of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger. Its ambitious concerts of the Ring cycle, Parsifal, and Tristan und Isolde have been among the most successful UK Wagnerian events of recent years.
Saffron Opera Group performs Così fan tutte at 3pm on Sunday 13 February 2022
at Saffron Hall, Audley End Road, Saffron Walden CB11 4UH
Box Office: 0845 548 7650 and for more Saffron Hall information click here.