Opera Profile: Finnish National Opera’s ‘Covid fan tutte’

By John Vandevert
Photo Credit: Stefan Bremer/Finnish National Opera

Covid fan tutte is a reconceptualization of Mozart’s comic opera organized by the Finnish National Opera in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The story is a farcical reimagining of “Così fan tutte,” focusing on the impact of COVID-19 and the ability of opera singers to perform. Most of the opera takes a satirical look at Finnish life and the difficulty in navigating life during the pandemic. The libretto for the opera was written by Minna Lindgren, while the premature idea was begun by conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen and soprano Karita Mattila due to a cancellation of FNO’s “Die Walküre” which was to be performed during the 2019-20 season.

The opera was first premiered in Helsinki on August 28, 2020, reaching a sizable audience with 12 performances continuing through October, and later streamed from September 2020 to March 2021 for global audiences. Within the performance’s cast were celebrated Finnish soprano Karita Mattila and Finnish bass Tommi Hakala. A particularly notable element of the opera was its lack of recitative and interspersed arias from other Mozartian operas like “Don Giovanni” and “The Magic Flute.”

Further, the opera’s libretto was created in little over a month. Lindgren used pre-made material interspersed with interlude music and piano accompaniment to fill in the gaps. As Salonen said, “He [Mozart] would probably be very excited about this project” given the opera’s focus on humor.

According to reviewers, the opera succeeded in bringing levity and joy to an otherwise dreary event in human history and reintroduced us to the Mozartian operatic sensibility.



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