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Current Tour Dates

2019

Così fan tutte

Set in the period of the British Raj in India and supposedly based on a true story, this comic tale of deception, doubt, devotion and the twists and turns of romantic love...

Current Tour Dates

For our 2019 production SCO is setting Mozart’s Così fan tutte  in the period of the British Raj in India. Supposedly based on a true story, this comic tale of deception, doubt, devotion and the twists and turns of romantic love, sees how a cynical old man (Don Alfonso) leads two naïve officers into a scandalous wager, in order to prove that it is against a woman’s nature to be faithful – ‘Così fan tutte’ – ‘all women are alike’. As the story unfolds we see just how well he succeeds; at first the women are not willing, but later….well you must wait and see!

The opera contains some of Mozart’s most sublime music including the famous trio “Soave il vento”. Sung in English and accompanied by chamber orchestra, with set and classical costumes designed by Gabriella Ingram it will be performed by some of the finest singers and orchestral players in the country. Thanks to funding from ACW  we are also teaming up with fine local choirs, our thanks go to them for undertaking the project so enthusiastically and professionally.

Touring to 11 theatres in Wales and England, audiences can discover more about the importance of design in staging an opera with our free pre-performance talks when Brendan Wheatley, Swansea City Opera’s Artistic Director, talks about the Mozart’s life and music and the challenges of creating a new production for the stage (please contact theatre for time).

All photos copyright of Joe Moody

website – www.jsmoody.com
instagram – @jsmoodyphotography

Cast & Biographies

Click on our cast members to find out more

  • Don Alfonso - Håkan Vramsmo

    Håkan Vramsmo

    Don Alfonso

    Håkan has appeared at major venues and festivals including the BBC Proms’ opening night, Wigmore Hall, Bridgewater Hall, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Stuttgart Liederhalle, Sibeliusacademin, Aldeburgh, Bath, and Cheltenham with such pianists as Iain Burnside, Julius Drake, Bengt Forsberg, Graham Johnson, Roger Vignoles, Llyr Williams and Andrew West. He has also appeared with the Hebridies Ensemble, Carducci Quartett, Gabrieli Consort, Sharoun Ensembles, BBC Symphony, Jerusalem, City of Birmingham, Bournemouth, English Chamber, Wroclaw, Zagreb, Barcelona, Gothenburg, and Malmö Symphony Orchestras conducted by Martyn Brabbins, Paul McCreech, Leonard Slatkin, Sir David Willcocks and Leon Botstein. He has frequently recorded for BBC, Private Joe by Panufnik for Polish radio, B-minor Mass on Signum Records and Elisabeth Maconchy’s opera The Departure for Chandos Records. His has sang 25 operatic roles and he created Axel in Meredith’s Tarantula in Petrol Blue, Carl in Colerige-Taylor’s Thelma and Pascoe in Huw Watkins’ In the Locked Room. Håkan teaches singing at Citylit Institute in London and is invited to Masterclasses at the Koninklijk Conservatoire Brussel.

  • Fiordiligi - Mari Wyn Williams

    Mari Wyn Williams

    Fiordiligi

    Welsh Soprano Mari Wyn Williams completed a Post Graduate Diploma in Vocal Studies whilst attending the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. Mari continued her studies completing a Masters Degree at the Welsh International Academy of Voice, achieving distinction, under the tuition of Dennis O’Neill. In September 2013 Mari won third place at the Montserrat Caballe Competition in Zaragoza. Other competitions successes include finalist at the London Wagner competition and finalist at the Elizabeth Connell competition in Sydney. In 2016 Mari was one of the Alvarez Young Artists at Garsington Opera and Covered the Role of Elettra from Idomeneo. Other engagements include Helmwige from Die Walküre for Grange Park Opera, The title role in Tosca for Opera project at the Tobacco Factory in Bristol, and Woglinde from Götterdämmerung for The Mastersingers. In November 2017 Mari performed the Role of Aida in Hannah Conway’s new work ‘Towards Another World’ that premiered at the Victoria and Albert Museum as part of the ENO Baylis community project.In 2018 Mari performed the roles of Inez from Il Trovatore for Winslow Hall Opera and a Flower maiden for Saffron Opera’s Parsifal. Mari is also the recipient of The Mastersingers’ Carole Rees Scholarship 2018. Upcoming performances include Woglinde for Longborough Festival Opera’s Das Rheingold in June 2019

  • Dorabella - Aurelija Stasiulytė

    Aurelija Stasiulytė

    Dorabella

    Aurelija Stasiulyte (mezzo – soprano) was born in Sakiai (Lithuania).

    She studied at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre. She has
    performed the roles of La Suora Zelatrice in Puccini’s Suor Angelica,
    Arsamene in Handel ‘s Serse, Dorabella in Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte, Meg
    Page in Verdi’s Falstaff at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre
    and Ines in Verdi ‘s Il Trovatore for Vilnius City Opera .

    Aurelija has sung with the Lithuanian National Symphony orchestra ,
    Lithuanian State Wind Instrument Orchestra and the Lithuanian Academy
    of Music and Theatre Simphony Orchestra. In November 2018 she was a
    soloist at the final performance of the Horse of the Year Show at the
    NEC Birmingham.

    Competition successes include Tiit Kuusik International Lied
    Competition 2012, international Jazeps Vitols Competition 2015, Vince
    Jonuskaite – Zauniene Competition 2017 and Llais Llwyfan Llambed 2017.

    She studies with Buddug Verona James.

  • Despina - Jessica Robinson

    Jessica Robinson

    Despina

    Welsh Soprano Jessica Robinson recently graduated from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama gaining a distinction in MA Opera Performance During her time at the RWCMD, Jessica also gained a first class honours undergraduate degree along with the Aneurin Davies memorial award, The Mansel Thomas prize, The Margaret Tann Award and the Elias Soprano award.
    Jessica appears in concerts all over the UK and Internationally in New York, China and Italy. Concert highlights include performing with the CBSO in a performance of Vaughan Williams’ ‘Serenade to Music’ for Radio 3, performing the soprano solos of Handel’s Messiah at the Wales
    Millennium Centre and most recently as a Soloist at the Royal Albert Hall for the 1000 Male Voice choir Gala. Operatic engagements include Countess Marriage of Figaro, Lady Billows Albert Herring and Fox Cunning little Vixen (RWCMD) , Nora Riders to the Sea (Bute Park Opera) Worker/Semi Chorus Gair ar Gnawd (Welsh National Opera/S4C) and Heavenly Voice (Grange Park Opera). Jessica is the 2016 Prince of Wales Scholar and is generously supported by the Worshipful Musicians’ Company Award, The Pantyfedwen Trust and The Arts Council of Wales.

  • Ferrando - July Zuma

    July Zuma

    Ferrando

    July Zuma was born and grew up in Durban, South Africa. He recently returned from South Africa where he was a soloist in an Opera Gala Evening hosted by Dante Alighieri Society in collaboration with Kwa-Zulu Natal Philharmonic Orchestra at Durban City Hall. Most recently, he sang the role of Young Man in the World Premiere of the chamber opera Romeo’s Passion, directed by Robert Lehmeier 2018 and was awarded a scholarship from the “Festival of Young Voices” under the direction of Mrs. Verena Keller with concerts in Bern, Sigriswil, Basel and Zurich in October 2018. He was invited as Guest Artist at the Warszawska Opera Kameralna’s 28th Mozart Festival in July 2018 and made his debut as Don Ottavio in Vienna with Wir sind Wien Festival (Operrund-um) June 2018. He sang Pedrillo in Abduction from the Seraglio by W. A. Mozart at the Warszawska Opera Kameralna in April 2018. In 2017 he sang Pedrillo in Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio with the Kammerphilharmonie Graubünden at the Schlossoper He was invited as a soloist to the great annual “Starlight Classics” concert at the JCC in South Africa. He made his debut in as Count Almaviva in Rossini’s The Barber of Seville in the Opera Vox Cultural Association production in Uster, Switzerland 2017 and sang Gastone in Verdi’s La Traviata at the Monschau Festival 2016 of the Kammeroper Köln. He is one of the leading actors of the documentary film “Cape of Good Voices” by the award-winning director Ralf Pleger, directed by the American soprano Leigh Hamilton.

  • Guglielmo - Ian Beadle

    Ian Beadle

    Guglielmo

    Born in Hertfordshire, Ian Beadle studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where he obtained a BMus (Hons) degree and Guildhall Artist Masters, as a scholar under the tutelage of Professor John Evans. In 2012/13 he was apart of the English National Opera’s Opera Works programme. One of the highlights of the year was performing as part of The Big Barber Bash in the London Coliseum. Operatic experience includes Shackleton SHACKLETON’S CAT (English Touring Opera), Bridegroom THE VANISHING BRIDEGROOMfor British Youth Opera, Figaro LE NOZZE DI FIGARO, for Opera Brava, Des Grieux LE PORTRAIT DE MANON, Belcore ELISIR D’AMORE and William Dale SILENT NIGHT for Wexford Festival Opera, Massetto DON GIOVANNI, Marco GIANNI SCHICCHI, Quinault ADRIANA LECOUVREUR, Jake Wallace LA FANCIULLA DEL WEST, for Opera Holland Park as well as Imperial Commissioner MADAMA BUTTERFLY and Guccio GIANNI SCHICCHI on the Christine Collin’s Young Artist Programme at Opera Holland Park. He sang Bass soloist in Messiah at the Palau de la Música, Valencia.

  • Musical Director - John Beswick

    John Beswick

    Musical Director

    John has been Musical Director for Swansea City Opera since 2014 and he is also currently Principal Conductor of Redhill Sinfonia. John was organ scholar of Hertford College, Oxford before postgraduate studies at the Guildhall School of Music (repetiteur) and The Royal College of Music (conducting).

    Since making his opera conducting debut at the Dartington International Summer School with Rigoletto, he has conducted for companies including Pimlico Opera (The Elixir of Love, The Barber of Seville and Cosi Fan Tutte), London City Opera (Carmen, La Traviata and Madame Butterfly) and Swansea City Opera (Lakme, La Boheme, Faust, Don Pasquale, The Marriage of Figaro, The Magic Flute and The Daughter of the Regiment). He has also worked on the music staff for Icelandic National Opera and Grange Park Opera.

    In Music Theatre he has conducted many shows, including Les Miserables (West End), Miss Saigon (UK Tour), Avenue Q (West End) and Damon Albarn’s opera Monkey: Journey to the West (Monkeys’ World at the O2), and he has also played keyboards on a great many others including Jersey Boys, Legally Blonde and The Full Monty.

  • Designer - Gabriella Ingram

    Gabriella Ingram

    Designer

    Gabriella Ingram trained as a theatre designer at Wimbledon School of Art, London. She has designed costumes for baroque and Indian dance, circus, fashion shoots, plays and TV commercials but she primarily works with opera companies and has been costume designing the productions for SCO for over 15 years. She has also designed shows for the Herod Atticus Theatre Acropolis Athens, Chateau de Blois and Chambord, Innsbrucker Festwochen der Alten Musik, Palau de les Arts Valencia, Teatro Massimo Palermo and in London at Sadler’s Wells, Holland Park Opera, Royal Opera House Linbury Studio, The South Bank- Royal Festival Hall and Queen Elizabeth Hall, Almeida Theatre, Lyric Theatre, Royal College of Music and the Swan Theatre Stratford upon Avon. Gabriella also costume supervises, recent productions include for Dallas Opera, Opera de Lausanne, New York Broadway, Goettingen Handel Festival, Aldeburgh Festival, Royal National Theatre, and London’s West End. She is based in London and Bibbiena Italy where she also designs handbags.

  • Director - Brendan Wheatley

    Brendan Wheatley

    Director

    Brendan Wheatley was born in Hinckley, Leicestershire and studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where he was awarded a three-year scholarship on the performers course. Another scholarship awarded to him at the end of this course enabled him to attend the Opera Course for a further year but this was cut short when he auditioned for Glyndebourne Festival Opera and was immediately offered a contract.
    Brendan sang for three seasons with Glyndebourne, making his debut as The Keeper of the Madhouse in the internationally acclaimed production of Stravinsky’s The Rakes Progress, designed by David Hockney. After leaving Glyndebourne, Brendan pursued his career as a freelance singer working with many companies both in Britain and abroad, and has now sung many major roles – from Don Giovanni to The Flying Dutchman – he also created the role of Figaro in the world premiere of Giles Swayne’s Le Nozze di Cherubino. His concert and oratorio work has taken him to such prestigious places as The South Bank, Royal Albert Hall, Huddersfield Town Hall and many cathedrals and churches throughout Britain. In 1989 he founded the touring company Opera Box with his partner Bridgett Gill and in 2004 the company received funding from the City and County of Swansea, and became Swansea City Opera. Over the years Brendan has directed and designed many operas for the company.

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Così fan tutte Synopsis

Così fan tutte Synopsis

Synopsis

The action takes place in India during the time of the British Raj.

Fiordiligi loves Guglielmo and he her. Dorabella loves Ferrando and, yes, he loves her too. They are so smug about the enduring nature of their love that they have become rather irritating and tedious. The gentlemen have a friend, a cynical, and therefore not entirely pleasant, philosopher called Don Alfonso; the two ladies are also rather fond of Don Alfonso. The two ladies have a maid, Despina: she, like Alfonso, is dubious about the durability of an idealized devotion, particularly when they might secretly feel the pairing of the couples should be different?
This then is the situation at the beginning of the opera. As the curtain rises, Alfonso suggests to his two friends that all women can be tempted to infidelity and their women are no exception. He can prove Fiordiligi and Dorabella fickle. The gentlemen are outraged: Fiordiligi and Dorabella are virtue incarnate. How dare Alfonso suggest they could ever be unfaithful! Don Alfonso suggests a bet. Ferrando and Guglielmo rashly agree…………
Alfonso suggests the following: Ferrando and Guglielmo are to pretend that they have been called up for military service but, rather than going to foreign parts, as they pretend, they are to disguise themselves as native Indians , and attempt to seduce Dorabella and Fiordiligi afresh. To make sure that things go smoothly, Alfonso enlists the help of Despina, whose devotion to her mistresses is rather outweighed by her devotion to the money which Alfonso offers her.
Alfonso breaks the dreadful news to Dorabella and Fiordiligi: Ferrando and Guglielmo have been called up and must leave immediately! Fiordiligi and Dorabella are heartbroken. How will they endure the torment while their beloveds are away? With sincere anguish on the part of the ladies and feigned anguish on the part of the gentlemen the soldiers depart. Fiordiligi and Dorabella are left disconsolate.
Only a short time elapses before the ‘Indian’ suitors arrive. At first, Dorabella and Fiordiligi are deaf to their blandishments but after the two men feign attempted suicide, (they are restored to life by Despina, disguised as a ‘mesmeric’ doctor).

INTERVAL

Persuaded by Despina that it will do no harm, eventually both ladies succumb to their ‘new’ admirers. There is, however, an additional twist: they end up with the ‘wrong’ men; Fiordiligi with the ‘Indian’ Ferrando and Dorabella with the ‘Indian’ Guglielmo. A wedding is arranged and is about to be solemnized by a Notary, (again Despina in disguise), when martial music is heard and news comes that Ferrando and Guglielmo have returned home! The Indian suitors exit hurriedly, and return as their true selves. When the deception is revealed, the ladies are first embarrassed, then contrite; the gentlemen, apart from Alfonso, possibly a little wistfully contrite. The opera ends with reconciliation and rejoicing.

Press Reviews

Press Reviews

Cosi fan Tutte

LIVE | MOZART: COSI FAN TUTTE (SCO)

Nigel Jarrett catches Swansea City Opera on tour with a lively production of a now-controversial Mozart opera, Cosi fan tutte, which has been transplanted to 19th century India.

More than whimsy may have encouraged director Brendan Wheatley to set his production of Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte for Swansea City Opera at the time of the British Raj. Despite its sublime music, the comedy has at its core some assumptions concerning human intercourse: namely, the belief that women temporarily beyond the watch of their menfolk will throw fidelity to the winds when prey to the amorous attentions of others (in Lorenzo da Ponte’s libretto, their swains improbably disguised). Today, this is political-incorrectness of high order.

Cosi fan tutte
Fiordiligi : Mari Wyn Williams Dorabella: Aurelija Stasiulyte Photo Credit: Joe Moody

Wheatley knows that the British on the sub-continent were placed as social beings in an environment they did not understand and often did not wish to understand. The truth of this is embodied in E.M.Forster’s novel A Passage to India, where their discomfiture extends, as only Forster could have mapped it, to the frisson of mutually-attracted racial opposites. But that extremity aside, updating from 18th-century Naples provides Wheatley and his team with other opportunities: for creating dashing soldier costumes; for invoking the exotic, in which decamped women might feel both thrilled and vulnerable; and for adding mystery, whereby the figure of Don Alfonso, in da Ponte’s story the mischievous bachelor who sets everything up, becomes a sort of philosophical master of ceremonies – Eastern philosophy, of course, and a cynical practitioner.

The story applied universally would be regarded today as outrageous. Certain it is that suspicions of what men would get up to in their women’s absence would be more justified by a feminist-dominated argument; but objection should work both ways. Temporal shift may thus be the least of an opera director’s considerations in Cosi fan tutte. Although an opera buffa, it prompted Mozart to explore depth of character at odds with its nominal frippery; but that was Mozart’s strength: a sense of fun just about obscuring the deadly serious, even the tragic, in its depiction of the treatment of women by men.

Wheatley scores in the tightness of the ensembles and the concentration on what is musically important: the almost pantomimic antics – their potential milked but not to excess –  and the delivery of music so ravishing that it almost floats away from the comedy into a celestial sphere of its own. Only spirited acting by Mari Wyn Williams (Fiordiligi), Aurelija Stasiulytė (Dorabella), Ian Beadle (Guglielmo), July Zuma (Ferrando), Håkan Vramsmo (Alfonso), and Jessica Robinson (Despina) keeps it on board as the action steams along with the unobtrusive support of musical director and conductor John Beswick and his eight-piece orchestra. Most of the arias and multi-voice set-pieces are given their due as pointers to differences in stature between the two female leads, to the equanimity of their self-cuckolded men, and to the willingness of the sparky (and opportunist) Despina and Alfonso to engage in misbehaviour just for the hell of it.

Cosi fan tutte
Fiordiligi: Mari Wyn Williams Dorabella: Aurelija Stasiulyte Don Alfonso: Hakan Vramsmo Photo Credit: Joe Moody

Throughout, and as a result of telling portrayals, one realises how complex the inter-relationships are in a work one might dismiss as irrelevant in an age of at least theoretical equality of the sexes. In its day the story must have been a diversion; now, the downstage and full-frontal celebration by Alfonso, Ferrando and Guglielmo of the ‘truth’ of distaff unfaithfulness is patently a joke and, moreover, an offensive act that makes them look slightly goofy. South African Zuma took over at this performance from Damien Noyce, his understudy, and will sing Ferrando at the remaining stops on the tour. He was originally cast in the role but encountered visa problems in getting to Britain. A slight imbalance in the vocal effectiveness of the cast has to be noted, and a little more could be made of the character drawing.

The scene of Wheatley’s interpretation is set in the early part of the 19th-century, but Crown rule of India began in 1858 and ended in 1947. The soldier-protagonists’ uniforms seem a bit out of kilter with history. Fiordiligi and Dorabella are dressed straight out of Jane Austen, who died aged forty in 1817. Don Alfonso wears a head-dress so is half-mystic, and presumably Indian, though his attire also seems to belong to an earlier era. Wheatley retains da Ponte’s original names, which seems odd: the Italians had no stake in Raj India. He does raise the topic of miscegenation in having Ferrando and Guglielmo disguised as Indian princes, and the final mock wedding ceremony of the men and their ‘unfaithful’ women is therefore bold.

The production is revived from 2012, with the same design (Gabriella Ingram), the same English translation (Ruth and Thomas Martin), a completely different cast, and a community chorus which might have been directed on this occasion to better effect, though as witnesses upstage to such horrid schadenfreude it was perhaps justified in appearing slightly stunned and half-hearted. In the meantime, and before that, the company in a former guise has put on a series of operas tailored to reduction of both music and means; in other words, to theatres far removed from anything resembling opera houses. It’s a skill, and its drawbacks have to be allowed for and tolerated. Not that all ‘chamber’ versions of opera successfully exploit every advantage and avoid every pitfall. The minimalist set here was sufficient unto the needs thereof, and softly lit, which left the cast to get on with it; and they did, to no mean satisfaction.

Audience Reviews

Audience Reviews

Torch Theatre Milford Haven

Enjoyed very much. Great voices and a good production suiting the theatre.

I was captivated all the way through!

Octagon Theatre Yeovil

A very happy evening & wonderful to have opera of this quality in Yeovil. What a pity  that there were many empty seats.

Taliesin Theatre Swansea

Extremely interesting talk before the show. Lovely orchestration for a small orchestra and delightfully sung. Diction in parts could be better. Jessica Robinson and Hakan Vramsmo excellent diction and acting.

The music was entrancing, the singing superb: the production interesting, enjoyed very much.

Singing good – female singers in particular. Effective but simple set & good costumes

Enjoyed very much, pre-show talk was excellent.

Very enjoyable evening, beautiful singing and unmissable pre-concert talk.

Have been a huge opera/music lover for decades. Your visits are especially appropriate as WNO dropped Swansea. Also enjoyed opera supper in the Dylan Thomas Centre and Liberty Stadium.

Aberystwyth Arts Centre

Opera well staged with a good vibe. I think you need to know the opera quite well as being sung in English sometimes the the lack of clear diction by a singer could spoil enjoyment a bit. Though the ‘programme’ content was good.

Useful and informative talk. Good voices!

 

Borough Theatre Abergavenny

Good singing. Nice stage set. Good costumes. Good acting. The maid was very funny!

Swansea City opera performances are always very lively and of a good standard.

Love your opera company. Do give my good wishes to those brave people involved in the Lebanon project, well done everyone!

Excellent show except I felt the chorus was weak compared with other performances I’ve seen (eg Barber of Seville). Lovely accessible translation used. Look forward to next time!

We attend every year because of the high standard of the singing and the excellent presentation. STUNNING PERFORMANCE!

Enjoyed very much and my 17 year old son also came!

 

Stiwt Theatre Rhosllanerchrugog

I was taken by a friend, the performances were Covent Garden standard. Despite the sadly poor audience attendance, due possibly to other competing events, the cast gave it their all, as did the orchestra. Costumes and scenery excellent.

Harrogate Theatre

We thoroughly enjoyed the production – good young cast and excellent costumes and scenery. We’ll be back next year (as we were last year).

I was taken to the opera by my parents from a young age. My father always told me to learn the story beforehand, so I’d know what was going on. Mozart is my favourite composer and although I had seen Cosi fan tutte on TV, I had never seen it live. An excellent performance much enjoyed. Come again!