Author: Clay Evans

Eklund Opera Program to Rock—and Doris—Mozart’s ‘Così fan tutte,’ March 13-15

Photo: Clockwise from upper left, Meagan Mahlberg, Max Hosmer, Rebecca Robinson, Frank Fainer. Glenn Asakawa/University of Colorado

When Mozart’s comic opera Così fan tutte debuted in 1790, the Viennese audience didn’t consider it the least bit risqué. Never mind that it’s basically about fiancée swapping.

But to more uptight 19th- and early 20th-century audiences, the opera—its somewhat enigmatic title, literally translated, “thus do they all,” is more colloquially understood as, “women are like that”—was just too hot to handle. When it was performed at all, it was often tamed and tamped down to a PG rating.

To Leigh Holman, that curious history parallels the reactions of some Americans to the risqué (for the time) romantic comedies of the late 1950s and early ‘60s, movies like Pillow Talk, starring Rock Hudson and Doris Day, and The Facts of Life, with Bob Hope and Lucille Ball. Some theaters in the American South even banned Pillow Talk.

So when the opportunity arose to direct Così for the first time, Holman decided to give it a little twist. When the curtain rises on March 13, audiences can expect a little Rock-and-Doris-and-Bob-and-Lucille along with their Mozart.

“Since Così really is a romantic comedy, I thought it would be fun to try to capture that time period and what was going on in those films,” says the director. “This is about two young couples and we’ve given it a feel like they are on a summer break or spring break in Naples. We’ve given it a light-hearted, youthful appeal.”

And, Holman says, this production will emphasize the laughs.

“When it’s set in its original time period, some first-time audiences don’t quite get the comedy,” she says. “So we’re bringing that to the fore.”

The opera program’s top singers will alternate lead roles over three performances, Holman says.

“These are all pre-professionals, top-notch singers, the cream of our crop,” she says.

CU-Boulder Eklund Opera Program presents Mozart’s Così fan tutte

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 13-14; 2 p.m. Sunday, March 15

Where: Macky Auditorium, University of Colorado Boulder campus

Tickets: $14-$38 at or 303-492-8008