With its new production of Così fan tutte, Deutsche Oper, Germany’s second largest opera house (after the Bayerische Staatsoper), succeeds – almost miraculously – in honoring the work’s scale and focus, by presenting a youthful cast of gutsy, energetic singers whose involving performances animated the spartan surroundings of Robert Borgmann’s sleek Installation Art-filled production.
Borgmann, an acclaimed young German theater director making his opera debut here, favors an abstract, rotating set with curiously placed props (plants, fabric, a chandelier and even an oil rig), video projections and onstage text. While largely inscrutable, it doesn’t detract in the slightest from the musical and dramatic performance.
The drama of Così is largely interior and psychological; for this reason, it isn’t particularly well served by a strictly narrative production (wigs and period furniture can be a distraction, to refer once more to the Salzburg production). And while I can’t quite say what Borgmann’s dramatic approach was, something about his precise yet unfussy style, and the expressive, thought-out performances he elicited from the singers, strikes an appropriate chord.