Infamous even before it’s Edinburgh debut, Christophe Honoré’s production of Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte draws on the sexual aspects of the opera and thrusts them to the forefront.

Centred around two couples,  Cosi Fan Tutte examines the fidelity of the two women through an experiment set into play by Don Alfonso and the two young men. The setting of 1930’s Eritrea, when colonised by a Fascist Italy, brings an extra dimension to the plot by exploring racial tensions of the time through bi-racial sexual relationships – from the exploitative ones of the soldiers with unwilling African girls, to the ones between the two couples when the men return disguised in blackface. Interestingly, the chemistry between the fiances is much more palpable when the men are disguised, hinting at themes of exoticism and taboo.

The phenomenal set design, matched with the low lighting, really displays the stifling heat and atmosphere of the environment, and mirrors the oppressions of the time. Sandrine Piau as Despina brings some much needed comic relief to the scenes of the darker side to lust, and makes a great partner to Rod Gilfry’s wily Don Alfonso.

An interesting and original take on an operatic classic, Honoré’s Cosi Fan Tutte is not afraid to drag the medium into different territory.

Words: Chiara Margiotta

Cosi Fan Tutte, Festival Theatre, Aug 25-28, 7.15pm

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