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Linda Cajigas
Jacobs School of Music

Alain Barker
Jacobs School of Music

Last modified: Thursday, September 15, 2011

IU Opera Theater's 2011-12 season opens with all-new production of comedic 'Così fan tutte'

WHAT: Così fan tutte, by W. A. Mozart, libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte
WHEN: Sept. 23-24 (Friday-Saturday) and Sept. 30-Oct. 1 (Friday-Saturday) at 8 p.m.
WHERE: Musical Arts Center, 101 N. Jordan Ave., IU Bloomington campus
TICKETS: Purchase tickets at the Musical Arts Center box office Monday-Friday, 11:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., by phone at 812-855-7433 or purchase online at A discounted price, through the MAC box office, is available for all students who wish to attend. Bursar Billing: The MAC box office is able to handle on-site bursar billing for students. Please note: tickets billed to a bursar account must be purchased by 5:30 p.m.

VIDEO STREAMING: Sept. 23-24 only. Featuring live blogging by musicology students.

Sept. 15, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Lessons in life, love and destiny await at Bloomington's Musical Arts Center when Indiana University Opera Theater's 2011-12 season opens next week.

Cosi fan tutte

Zachary Coates as Guglielmo and Meghan Dewald as Fiordiligi in IU Opera Theater's new production of Mozart's "Così fan tutte."

Print-Quality Photo

A brand-new, more contemporary take on W. A. Mozart's timeless comedy about relationships, Così fan tutte, will debut Friday, Sept. 23, with additional performances Sept. 24, 30 and Oct. 1. The Sept. 23-24 performances will be video-streamed live at, embellished by live blogging from IU Jacobs School of Music musicology students.

C. David Higgins, set and costume designer and chair of the IU Department of Opera Studies, teams up with guest stage director Tomer Zvulun for the third time, following their recent groundbreaking new productions of Die Zauberflöte and Faust for IU Opera Theater.

Jacobs Professor Arthur Fagen will be in charge on the podium.

"Così is Mozart's most fragile and easily misunderstood piece, in my opinion," Zvulun said. "As opposed to the theatricality, special effects and adventure that fill Magic Flute or Giovanni, Così is a piece about relationships, human beings and discovering certain truths as we grow up and mature.

"Both David and I wanted to create a production that would be completely different from our previous two new productions," Zvulun continued. "In a way, this production is the antithesis of the bold, conceptual Faust that we did here last season and the whimsical, puppet-filled Magic Flute that we created the season before. Though those two were very successful shows, we wanted to create an environment that would be more traditional and connected to a more distant time period but, at the same time, would resonate with modern audiences in America."

A "Così fan tutte" set rendering by C. David Higgins.

Print-Quality Photo

This production is set 100 years later than the original, at the end of the 19th century, and the location has been updated to The Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, Fla. The costumes were inspired by the American painter John Singer Sargent and the illustrator Charles Dana Gibson. Despina and the chorus are maids and waiters in the hotel, and when the lovers leave for "war," they leave Naples, Fla., rather than Naples, Italy.

"In past productions, Tomer and I have tried to make the circumstances of the opera more relatable to a modern audience -- particularly a younger audience -- that may not be as willing to engage in some historical or familiar telling of a story," Higgins said. "By moving the action forward in time, I hope we are able to make the story -- and the situations addressed in it -- more relevant to our audience."

Zvulun said the design choices about time and place are just the opera's facade, however.

"For me, the most profound and incredible discovery about Così came from reading Mozart's letters and biographies and realizing that one of the most traumatic and life-changing events in his life was when he met the Webers and their four daughters in the late 1780s," Zvulun said.

Mozart fell deeply in love with one of the daughters, Aloysia, who eventually rejected him. While he seemed mostly content after marrying her sister Constanze, there was a part of him that remained in love with Aloysia for the rest of his short life. That story is echoed in Così fan tutte, especially when each male lead discovers that he may be more attracted to the other sister than to his own fiancée.

"Mozart's own fate and choice and that of the characters he created in Così tell us something very moving about our own choices, about monogamy, love and destiny, and I hope that we will be able to bring all that to life," Zvulun said.

Visit the production website, with synopsis, program notes, photos and more at