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Cosi fan Tutte

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Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte, his final opera written in collaboration with Lorenzo da Ponte, has had a checkered performance history. In the decades after Mozart’s death puritanical attitudes kept the opera from finding its place in the canon. (Beethoven famously found the plot immoral). Also, like certain late Shakespeare plays, the opera defies easy classification. COSI confounded the public by seducing them with the exterior trappings of frivolous farce, then slyly demanding that they face uncomfortable questions about fidelity and the nature of the sexes. Performances of the opera didn’t become common until after the middle of the 20th Century.  

For their second outing of the 2011- 2012 Season, LA Opera is presenting a sparkling realization of Cosi imported from Glyndebourne. Originally directed by Nicholas Hytner and staged for Los Angeles by Ashley Dean, the production is witty, sophisticated, and free of a shoehorned directorial “concept” designed to help the plot along. Hytner and Dean take the opera seriously, while never missing a laugh. The evening is filled with intelligently telling details, from the coffeehouse which starts the action to Fiordiligi fumbling in her bag for the cameo of her fiancée. The result of these details is to emphasize the humanity of the characters and allow us to see ourselves in them.  

Da Ponte’s libretto explores the fluctuating relationships between two soldiers, Ferrando and Guglielmo, who are engaged to sisters, Dorabella and Fiordiligi. The men’s friend, Don Alfonso, scoffs at their belief in the fidelity of the ladies and devises an elaborate scheme to prove his point that all women are fickle. The men disguise themselves and each woos the opposite sister with surprising results all around.  

The quartet of lovers prove musically strong and dramatically provocative. Ildebrando D’Arcangelo makes a dashing and sexually charged Guglielmo who sings with the kind of large and darker-tinged sound which is rare in Mozart, outside of Don Giovanni. With less steel in both voice and manner than many other Fiordiligi’s, Alexandra Kurzak chooses a more girlish interpretation which suits the production perfectly. As Ferrando, Simir Pirgu sings with sweet sincerity and seems to be having a wonderful time, while Ruxandra Donose proves a generous-voiced and ebulliently adorable Dorabella.  

Typically Don Alfonso is played by an older performer, but Lorenzo Regazzo’s youthful and somewhat anarchic performance is refreshing and lacks nothing in authority. Roxana Constantinescu is a fetching and eminently practical Despina who copes easily with the role’s vocal demands while managing to wring every laugh from the absurd situations in which she finds herself.  

James Conlon leads the orchestra with buoyancy and verve through three hours of music which feels like one. And, after all the plot machinations, we find the couples facing each other without disguise or pretense. In Hytner’s ambiguous final tableau we find no clear-cut answers. Somehow that feels like the perfect ending to a truly memorable production.  

Dorothy Chandler Pavilion  September 18 – October 8, 2011    HYPERLINK ""  












Laguna Playhouse Announces Ellen Richard as its Interim Executive Director

May 3, 2016…Laguna Beach, Calif…Laguna Playhouse Board of Directors announced today that, later this month, Ellen Richard will be joining Laguna Playhouse as its Interim Executive Director. The Playhouse announced late last year that it was undertaking a national search guided by Arts Consulting Group (ACG) for an Executive Director to succeed Karen Wood who had held this position for the past eight years.

Commenting on the appointment Joe Hanauer and Paul Singarella, Co-Chairmens of the Board of Directors, said “In the midst of our search we encountered this wonderful opportunity to engage Ellen while we continue to seek appropriate long-term leadership. To have found someone with the extraordinary qualifications that Ellen has is thrilling. She is the recipient of six Tony Awards as producer at New York’s Roundabout Theatre Company where she was Managing Director. Ellen also has strong successes in supervising the construction of theatres in New York and also in San Francisco at the American Conservatory Theater, a rare and valuable skill set considering the contemplated major remodel and expansion of the Laguna Playhouse.” Laguna Playhouse Artistic Director Ann E. Wareham adds, “We are pleased and proud to have Ellen Richard, truly a rock-star in our field, join us as our interim Executive Director who will help guide the Playhouse during this transition.” Comments Ellen Richard, “I have quickly grown fond of Laguna Beach and the Playhouse. I embrace this extraordinary opportunity to join one of the country’s top regional theatres at this time in its remarkable 95-year history. I look forward to helping the Playhouse and working with their incredible Board of Trustees and Ann E. Wareham.”


Ellen Richard served as Executive Director of the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco from 2010 through 2015.  During her tenure, Ms. Richard negotiated a deal to buy the Strand Theater in tech corridor of Mid-Market San Francisco, helped raise the $34,000 million to renovate and operate it and steered the design and construction for the project which opened in May of 2015. The complex featured two performance spaces and has won multiple awards.  She opened the 50 seat Costume Shop Theater, a 49-seat “black box” venue used for the company’s Master of Fine Arts students and for shows by other local companies.  Ms. Richard was also credited with expanding the company’s educational efforts, coming up with programs like the San Francisco Semester, which brings undergraduate acting students to ACT from around the world, and Stage Coach, a community theater mobile unit that reaches into diverse neighborhoods

She was also Executive Director of The Second Stage Theatre in New York City. During her tenure at Second Stage, which began in 2006 (through 2009), she was responsible for the purchase contract of the Helen Hayes Theatre, growth in subscription income of 48 percent, and growth in individual giving of 75 percent, as well as conceptualization of a highly successful gala format and “Second Generation,” a giving program through which donors enable deserving New York City youth to experience live theater. Under Ms. Richard’s leadership, Second Stage provided the initial home for the Broadway productions Everyday Rapture, Next to Normal, and The Little Dog Laughed.

From 1983 to 2005, Ms. Richard enjoyed a rich and varied career with Roundabout Theatre Company. The Roundabout that Ms. Richard joined was a small nonprofit theater company in bankruptcy. By the time she departed as Managing Director, Roundabout had become one of the country’s largest and most successful theater companies of its kind, with net assets in excess of $67 million dollars. Ms. Richard is the recipient of six Tony Awards as producer, for Roundabout productions of Cabaret (1998), A View from the Bridge (1998), Side Man (1999), Nine (2003), Assassins (2004), and Glengarry Glen Ross (2005). As producer of more than 125 shows at Roundabout, she had direct supervision of all management and marketing functions. She created Roundabout’s “Theatre-PLUS” programs, which include singles, teachers, family, gay and lesbian, wine tasting, and the 7 p.m. “Early Curtain” series, all of which grew to represent more than 10 percent of Roundabout’s 40,000 subscribers.

As director of design and construction at Roundabout, Ms. Richard was responsible for more than $50 million of theater construction for 11 projects. She conceptualized the three permanent Roundabout stages — The Broadway venues of Studio 54 and the American Airlines Theatre, and the Off-Broadway venue The Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre She directed the location search for Cabaret and oversaw the creation of the production’s environmental Kit Kat Klub. Prior to her tenure at Roundabout, Ms. Richard served as business manager of Westport Country Playhouse, theater manager for Stamford Center for the Arts, and business manager for Atlas Scenic Studio. She began her career working as a stagehand, sound designer, and scenic artist assistant.