San Diego Opera returns to Civic Theatre with 'Cosi Fan Tutte'
Speaker 1: (00:00)
The pandemic has forced San Diego opera to pivot for almost two years, the company even innovated with a drive-in opera, but next month it finally returns to grand opera on the civic theater stage K PBS arts reporter. Beth Amando speaks with Tim Nelson about directing Mozart's Cote
Speaker 2: (00:20)
Him. How does it feel to be directing the first opera back inside the civic theater after this two year hiatus from the pandemic?
Speaker 3: (00:32)
I'll, I'll admit it's a very strange feeling that I don't know that there was way to prepare for after two years. One has these questions about, do I member how to do this and what, how does, how does all this work? And also as a group, you can feel this energy of us all kind of finding our footing, supporting each other in that finding, but it's a very strange feeling to be coming back to life in this way.
Speaker 2: (00:56)
And how is this going to play out in terms of, are there any kind of COVID restrictions that are going to be in play during rehearsal and during production?
Speaker 3: (01:07)
Well, certainly for rehearsal we're, we're all masked, which, you know, for, for a piece of straight theater is already, you know, a strange rehearsal practice, but for singing and for working with opera singers, it, it changes everything, cuz it changes the breath. It changes the way the, the singers relate with each other and relate with their text, which is of course a musical text. We're obviously going through regular testing and being very flexible. I mean, it's already a very short rehearsal period, but we know we have to be flexible within that because some people may, may fall out and come back in. If there's anything the pandemic's taught us, it's it's the need for flexibility and just rolling with the punches.
Speaker 2: (01:45)
And how do you feel about this choice of, uh, coz Tuti for the opera to bring everyone kind of back into the theater?
Speaker 3: (01:55)
I'm biased, cozy Fonte is by far my favorite Mozart opera. I think it's also by far his masterpiece, I think for a San Diego opera, especially to be doing this piece that they haven't done in, you know, not quite, but almost 20 years is significant. It's a significant way to come out of the pandemic. Also the way coz fund duty is essentially about this quintessential human experience that every single member of any audience that has ever or will ever see it as experience, which is the, that your heart breaks for the first time. And you realize that life is not going to be as simple or as plantable as you imagined it. So it's, I think has a particular resonance coming out of this time where all of a sudden all of our lives were shattered in a way that we couldn't have imagined. And you, you realize how vulnerable you are and how unpredictable I life is going to be. And what seems safe is actually not safe. And in a way that's what CFA is about. It's about that with the heart, not with the, the body and the, and, and one's physical safety, but in the same way, it is the realization of how, how fragile we are and how, how tender we need to be to each other.
Speaker 2: (03:01)
I was able to see some of the production design sketches that the opera has shared. Talk a little bit about the way this production is going to look and be
Speaker 3: (03:11)
Mounted. Cozy fund is very much about four young lovers, two pairs of lovers that are mismatched throughout the opera coming of age. Real that love is not a fairytale, that, that it is possible tragically possible to love more than one person at the same time. And that love is difficult and sometimes love is not gonna be sufficient. So in looking at other ways that the Western cannon of theater has explored these themes, the one in which immediately struck out to me of course, is Midsummer night stream. And, and the, the metaphor that Shakespeare spins out in dream, along with a lot of his place of going into the woods of going into a dark scary place where one goes through a transformative experience and comes out on the other side different than the way they went into it. That's an essential metaphor that Shakespeare uses in most of his place.
Speaker 3: (03:57)
So the idea of not setting this on a, a Neopolitan veranda, but AC actually staging the metaphor that I think Mozart and DuPonte were going for. And so, so the way this production will look is actually very much like a production, a mid summer night stream, or, uh, especially with his death fresh in our minds into the woods. I mean, that's, that's essentially what Samim is also exploring it into the woods the way when the fair ends, um, what it means to go into the woods and come to a place where you can wake up and, and take the next step. You mentioned
Speaker 2: (04:27)
That this is your favorite Mozart. What about it makes it your favorite?
Speaker 3: (04:35)
So it's my favorite, but with an important caveat, which is, I've never, I've always been too afraid to stay to it because one of the problems with it is the music is so perfect and Mozart is doing something so, um, unique and experimental in it that I've never been completely convinced that a director could stage it in a way that doesn't diminish the brilliance of the music that doesn't get in the way of the music. And what I, what I mean by that is Mozart has isn't telling a story with music like he does in most of his great operas. Instead, he's actually trying to express in the music, the sensation of having your heart broken. And he does this by using the classical style in the first tap to create a fairytale for it's perfection, it's symmetric. Everything's perfect. And then when you get to the second act, as it evolves, um, everything falls apart and the music gets awkward in places and the music repeats itself and you have this strange sense of nostalgia. And it's exactly like what real life is as opposed to this perfect classical fairy tale. But it's difficult for a director. I think to bring that to life on the stage, it's kept me away from actually doing a production of it. So not only is this, you know, my first production after, after the pandemic, um, it's also my first coz one of my very favorite offers, but one I've always been too afraid to, to try to stage.
Speaker 2: (06:12)
So those were the things you were afraid of, but what are the things that kind of really draw you into it? And, and now that you're actually tackling the production, what, what things are you enjoying about doing it?
Speaker 3: (06:24)
Well, it's, it's, it's very much, Mozart's most accomplished score. The music is just spectacular on a, on a level that is unrivaled in his, in his other pieces and San Diego opera of course is known for, and this production's no exception attracting really the, the highest caliber of singers. And so to be able to do this piece with a young cast of extremely accomplished singers is just, it's a privilege that that directors rarely, rarely get. And I would say the ability to, because it's, it's very difficult music. So the ability to do the piece with singers that are actually capable of tackling this score and doing it with what the Italians would call spread ator, you know, the ability to do something that's incredibly difficult, make it look easy. That's what this, this, this score requires. And it's some, it's a rare opportu to do it in that way.
Speaker 2: (07:20)
What are you looking most forward to when this finally moves into the civic theater and you get to see it on that stage?
Speaker 3: (07:27)
So one of the things that we've done conception wise, particularly in the design is to lean into stage magic old fashioned Ville stage magic because we're, we're using as a central metaphor of the piece being in a performance being on, on stage. So we have a stage within a stage, and then there's lots of Ville tricks and leaf drops and water tricks and silk for the water. There's all these things we can't do in the rehearsal room. So I'm really eager when we move into the theater to see the design come to life. I, that was Beth
Speaker 1: (07:59)
Amando speaking with Tim Nelson, San Diego operas production of koi Fante runs February 12th through the 20th at the civic theater.
Timothy Nelson directs Mozart's playful tale of love
San Diego Opera returns to its home base of the Civic Theatre after an almost two year absence because of COVID-19 restrictions. Mozart's "Cosi Fan Tutte" will welcome audiences back to grand opera at the downtown venue.
"Cosi Fan Tutte" is director Tim Nelson's favorite Mozart opera and it is the perfect one to mark a return after the pandemic shutdown.
"It's a significant way to come out of the pandemic," Nelson said via Zoom at a rehearsal.
"'Cosi Fan Tutte' is essentially about this quintessential human experience that every single member of any audience that has ever or will ever see it has experienced, which is the moment that your heart breaks for the first time and you realize that life is not going to be as simple or as plan-able as you imagined it," Nelson said.
"So I think it has a particular resonance coming out of this time where all of a sudden all of our lives were shattered in a way that we couldn't have imagined. And you realize how vulnerable you are and how unpredictable life is going to be," Nelson said. "And what seems safe is actually not safe. And in a way, that's what 'Cosi Fan Tutte' is about. It's about that with the heart, not with the body and one's physical safety, but in the same way it is the realization of how fragile we are and how tender we need to be to each other."
"Cosi Fan Tutte" will have four performances at the Civic Theatre Feb. 12 through 20.