Don Alfonso, an old bachelor and some would say meddler, tells two young soldiers Ferrando and Guglielmo that women cannot be faithful. The soldiers argue that the women to whom they are betrothed, the sisters Fiordiligi and Dorabella are indeed trustworthy.
A bet is made and the soldiers enter into a bargain in which they'll tell the sisters they're off to war, but will return in disguise to test their true loves to see if they remain steadfast.
In Houston Grand Opera's upcoming production of Mozart's Cosi fan tutte, one of the women proves more faithful than the other but even she succumbs in the end. So, is this a diatribe against women?
American soprano Rachel Willis-Sørensen who plays Fiordiligi, the sister who holds out the longest, sees it differently.
"I think it reflects poorly on the men and the era. They just push and push and push until the women break. I think it's something that speaks to all relationships that you are not to take your partner for granted."
She likes her character, saying "She is so fiery and passionate and trying to do right." The two sets of lovers are both young and naïve, and although Don Alfonso's truth may have been an inevitable lesson to learn about life, it wasn't something that they needed perhaps at this time and in such a harsh way, she said. "Don Alfonso is so cruel."
This is the fourth time Willis-Sørensen appears in a production of Cosi; beginning with when she performed as an HGO studio artist (she was there from 2009 to 2011) and she says in each case the production has been a new one. "This is a special production and the cast (including Melody Moore as Dorabella - she was last seen in The Passenger last season) is off the hook," she said.
Willis-Sørensen, who lives in Germany, goes on from here to make her New York Met debut singing the Countess role in Figaro. Catch her now while you can.
Performances of Cosi fan tutte are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. October 31, November 8, 13 and 15; and 2 p.m. November 2 at the Wortham Theater Center, 500 Texas Avenue. For information, call 713-228-6737 or visit houstongrandopera.org. $20 to $338.
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