Cosi Fan Tutte

By Mozart

English National Opera (2002)

Directed by Matthew Warchus

Lighting by Paule Constable

We approached this troubling and misogynistic story by treating it like a classic fairy tale – fantastic and unreal, but containing within it some human truth. That the object of youthful infatuation may be swiftly substituted, whatever the sex of the protagonist, just as Shakespeare’s Romeo forgets Rosaline on first meeting Juliet. Our fairy tale was told in the surreal visual language of Magritte, Cassandre and Cocteau. The central deception of the disguised lovers was expressed by a gothic sepia world invaded by colour.

“Dreamy, sepia-tinted and surreal, a Magritte-meets-Mitford country house Cosi …Fiordiligi and Dorabella’s dark, airless French provincial bedroom unfolds like a Georgia O’Keeffe flower to reveal a soft, sensual, apricot-tinged dreamscape of a garden. A sexual metaphor? Oh yes, I think so.”

Independent on Sunday