Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Pretty Girls Are Gullible (aka Cosi Fan Tutte)

To Glyndebourne last night, where Peter had secured last minute standing room tickets for the acclaimed production of Cosi. I don't actually like this particular opera, and nor do I like dressing up (which is de rigeur, in the exquisite Glyndebourne setting, jewel of an opera house, nestling among lush, perfect gardens in the bosom of the South Downs). I had hoped I wouldn't have to don the antique Laura Ashley, and sheer hose (or tights, as we say over here) until September. Still, I went along, if only for the picnic. Why don't I like Cosi Fan Tutte? Two fifteen year old girls, notionally sisters, basically camp-followers, are passionately attached to their two soldier lovers. The young men have a mentor, Alfonso, who convinces them to pretend to disappear, reappear disguised as Albanians, and attempt to seduce their faithful little floozies. Will they succeed? Well, of course, because no woman can be trusted and, plus, the young women's "maid", Despina, is thoroughly corrupt, and cheerfully aids the plot. But it all ends happily, albeit with a switch of partners, because after all, what's the difference. All women (if willing) are equally serviceable. It's not the callous behaviour that annoys me (why should not stories of callous behaviour be told?) Nor is it Alfonso's lesson. Romantic love is a daft, delightful delusion, a drug experience, and only children (like Dorabella and Fioridiligi) believe it will last; or place any moral value on the stuff. Nah, it's the way everything the characters sing, every note, including the bits where the young men are parroting Alfonso's older-man cynical "lessons in love", they're either lying or they're deluded. No one ever reaches an honest realisation about the human heart. For me that interferes with the music.

And out in the lush gardens, among the privileged, the young girls are on parade. As richly dressed as they can afford, which in some cases is very rich indeed. In spike heels, in falling-out decolletage, in flighty handkerchief skirts, and those excructiating, tightly-panelled satin numbers, so ugly in the thirties, still ugly and so much in vogue right now. Dear me, who sold you that one, love? Did you take a good look in a long mirror? Young girls are so piteously trusting. And young men think cynicism is so clever. And to think, when I was Fioridiligi's age, I believed all this was going to be swept away, spike heels were about to crumble into dust, & the girls and boys meet each other frankly, on level ground. Ha.


Eleanor said...

You are right about Cosi. I have to brace myself when I see an opera by Mozart, because the librettos are usually nasty. Though I like Figaro -- it helps to have Beaumarchais write your script; and it's pretty satisfying to see Don Giovanni dragged down to hell.

Nancy Jane Moore said...

Oh, God, the idiotic shoes. It's hard enough just to stay on balance, much less walk, and no one can run with those things on.
So here we are in 2007, and sexy clothes for women are still those that make them vulnerable. (The psychological underpinnings of that are so obvious they're probably not even worth mentioning.)
Do you suppose we'll ever reach a point where a woman will be considered sexy if she doesn't look vulnerable?