Salzburg Festival 2020 Preview: Christof Loy & Conductor Joana Mallwitz Talk ‘Così fan tutte’

By Dejan Vukosavljevic
(Credit: SF/ Anne Zeuner)

Mozart and Da Ponte’s opera “Così fan tutte” will make its way onto the big stage of the Grosses Festspielhaus at the Salzburg Festival 2020 starting on August 2, 2020.

Given the complex nature of things due to continued concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, the production was a daunting task for everyone, primarily the director Christof Loy and conductor Joana Mallwitz.

For two days and two nights, Loy and Mallwitz sat poring over their scores, connected by phone, making one cut after another – a painful process, the conductor said. The result is a version of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Così fan tutte” which would not have happened in other years.

Mallwitz was somewhat consoled by the fact that Mozart would presumably have been the first to create such a version for 2020, for he himself was known to cut without hesitation and add compositions as the occasion demanded. The final version clocks in at two hours and 10 minutes containing “as much of Mozart’s spirit as possible,” Mallwitz further explained.

Christof Loy has spent his entire life studying this Mozart masterwork; he last staged it 12 years ago at the Frankfurt Opera. He also found the process of cutting painful.

“On the other hand, last time I had the experience that it was sometimes a bit of a stretch to keep the action flowing,” he added.

Loy describes “Così fan tutte” as an opera that creates an almost unbearable tension between joy and pain. To him, melancholy clouds the entire piece, and the opera is absolutely timeless, because everyone is immediately able to identify with the characters.

Loy and Mallwitz, who are working together for the first time here, quickly agreed on one thing: they do not want to differentiate the vows of love between true and mere pretense. The piece is about honest feelings, and this is reflected in the music as well, the conductor points out.

The cast for the opera includes Elsa Dreisig in the role of Fiordiligi; Marianne Crebassa in the role of Dorabella; Andrè Schuen as Guglielmo; Bogdan Volkov as Ferrando; Lea Desandre as Despina; and Johannes Martin Kränzle in the role of Don Alfonso.

The opening night of “Così fan tutte” is set for August 2, at 5:00 p.m. CET, with additional performances on August 5, 9, 12, 15 & 18.