Opera in the Heights: Così fan tutte

Even a month of 100+ degree weather this summer didn't dampen Opera in the Heights Artistic Director Enrique Carreón-Robledo's enthusiasm for his new opera family. He was appointed to the position in April, but spent a few months commuting from his home in London before making the move to Texas. He arrived in the middle of July (ouch!) and got right to work.

Carreón-Robledo came to OH! with a singular mission: to achieve the highest level of artistic achievement possible with the company's current resources. OH!'s new production of Mozart's Cosi fan tutte is evidence of the company's progress.

"It's quite an undertaking because its really the pinnacle of opera buffa," Carreón-Robledo tells Art Attack. "It's really an enterprise. There are so many words in this opera, probably more words for each character than all of our other three operas together. We have a fabulous cast. And it's a line-up that represents the mission of the company in every way."

The farcical Cosi fan tutte follows the exploits of two young soldiers, Ferrando and Guglielmo, who are challenged by an older friend to test the love of their fiancées, Dorabella and Fiordiligi, each of which the young men claim are perfect. The two men will pretend to leave on a mission, then come back in disguise. Each will try to seduce the other's fiancée and test her faithfulness. From then on, tricks, double-crosses, and scandalous behavior become the norm.

While Cosi fan tutte is a comedic romp, Carreón-Robledo is careful to point out that musically, it's still a very difficult and complicated. The plot might be a bit of fluff, but the score definitely is not. "It's only by taking it really seriously that the fun can happen on stage," he says.

Sopranos Emily Newton and Sarah Beckham share the role of Fiordiligi; Beckham is making her OH! debut. Mezzo-soprano Ann Sauder appears as Dorabella, also in her OH! debut.

Tenors Emanuel-Cristian Caraman and Zach Averyt share the role of Ferrando, while baritones Kevin Wetzel and Brian Shircliffe alternately appear as Guglielmo. Bass Erik Kroncke is Don Alfonso, the cynic who starts all the trouble.

For the first time ever OH! will perform the full orchestral score as it was written for the composer. "Our space for the orchestra is very limited, we really can not have more than 24 members," says Carreón-Robledo. "Up until now we have always had to reduce the size the orchestration to fit the size of our small orchestra. But this group has gotten so proficient and achieved such a high level of artistry, that I know they can do it exactly as Mozart wrote it."

Beginning November 10, Opera in the Heights presents Cosi fan tutte at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, with an additional 2 p.m. performance on November 20. Lambert Hall, 1703 Heights. For information, visit www.operaintheheights.org or call 713-861-5303. $10 to $55.

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Olivia Flores Alvarez