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University of Iowa News Release

March 11, 2003

(Photo: David Playfair and Rachel Walker will appear as Don Alfonso and Despina in the University of Iowa Martha-Ellen Tye Opera Theater production "Cosi fan tutte, or the Loss of Innocence," March 28-30 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.)

UI Opera Theater Presents Mozart Opera March 28-30

The Martha-Ellen Tye Opera Theater at the University of Iowa will present "Cosi fan tutte, or the Loss of Innocence," a new English translation of Mozart's opera, as their spring production, with performances at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 28 and 29, and 2 p.m. Sunday, March 30, in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

Ben Krywosz, the artistic director of Nautilus Music-Theater of St. Paul, Minn., will be the guest stage director for the production. William La Rue Jones will conduct the University Symphony. Scene and costume design are by Margaret Wenk of the UI Division of Performing Arts Production Unit.

"Cosi fan tutte" -- which can be roughly translated "They are all like that" -- was a collaboration between Mozart and librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte. A charismatic figure who was banished from several European cities because of his sexual conduct and ended up teaching Italian in New York, Da Ponte provided the text for three of Mozart's greatest operas, "The Marriage of Figaro," "Don Giovanni" and "Cosi."

Supposedly based on a true event that took place in the Viennese court in Mozart's day, "Cosi fan tutte" tells of two young officers, Ferrando and Guglielmo, who are engaged to the sisters Fiordiligi and Dorabella. Their friend Don Alfonso, a wealthy bachelor, insists that the young women -- like all of us, he claims -- are not as faithful as their lovers think.

Insulted, Ferrando and Guglielmo proudly agree to put the sisters' constancy to a test. They pretend to be called to battle, then return in disguise. Each attempts to seduce the other's fiancee, with results that surprise everyone but Don Alfonso.

Krywosz wants to make this very artificial story something more than a frivolous comedy and therefore more meaningful for audiences with a 21st-century sensibility. "To make the cultural leap from Vienna to Iowa City, and from 1790 to 2003, we must produce an adaptation created for this specific time and place," he explained. "Rather than resist this reality, we have embraced it, asking how do we adapt this piece for these circumstances in a way that honors the spirit, if not the letter, of the Mozart-Da Ponte score?"

"Musically, we begin with a new English translation, thereby respecting the composer's wishes and expectations, as Mozart assumed his works would be done in the language of the audience.

"We selected the early 20th century for the costumes -- far enough back to retain a sense of old-world elegance and avoiding the visual barriers of powdered wigs, pantaloons and snuff boxes, but recent enough for us to recognize these characters as real people.

"Dramaturgically, we have lessened the women's gullibility by making their suitors handsome prospects rather than silly Albanians. We prolonged the game over a week, rather than the usual 24 hours. In addition, we have stressed the universality of temptation, expanding Don Alfonso's moral of 'women are all like that' to 'we are all like that,' and focusing on the growth of these youngsters into adulthood."

Krywosz believes that "Cosi fan tutte, or the Loss of Innocence," like all great works of art, offers more questions than answers. "Learning to ask these questions with sincerity and integrity marks a change in a person's life," he said. "A loss of innocence is complemented by an awareness that life is more complicated than we wish to believe. That is the gift that Don Alfonso gives to the young lovers, and the gift of awareness that artists, as storytellers, provide our community."

The cast of UI students will feature David Playfair as Don Alfonso. The officers will be played by Dennis Willhoit (Friday and Sunday) and Quiliano Anderson (Saturday) as Ferrando; and Dan Weinstein (both performances) as Guglielmo. The sisters will be played by Lisa Kotara (Friday and Sunday) and Jamie Bender (Saturday) as Fiordiligi; and Tara Warfield (Friday and Sunday) and Elisabeth Bieber (Saturday) as Dorabella. The role of the maid Despina will be shared by Rachel Walker (Friday and Sunday) and Kerri Middleton (Saturday).

Krywosz serves as artistic director of Nautilus Music-Theater in St. Paul, Minn., for whom he has directed "Goblin Market," "Into the Woods," "Hearts on Fire," "Snow Leopard," "Fly Away All" and "Without Colors," among other works.

He has also staged productions for the Minnesota Opera, San Francisco Opera's Merola Program, California Coast Opera, Midwest Opera Theater, West Bay Opera, New Dramatists in New York, the Bay Area Playwrights Festival, the Lake George Opera Festival's Apprentice Program, Opera Roanoke, and North Star Opera. He has also taught and directed at Grand Valley State University and Augsburg College.

From 1984 to 1987, Krywosz was Project Director for Opera America's "Opera for the 80s and Beyond" program, where he concentrated on introducing the professional opera field to the work of innovative music-theater artists. He has also directed more than 40 composer-librettist opera studios in New York, San Francisco, Miami, Chicago, Washington, Portland, Los Angeles, and the Twin Cities.

A UI music alumnus, Jones joined the faculty of the School of Music in 1997 as director of the University Symphony and director of orchestral studies. Prior to joining the UI faculty, Jones was the founding music director/administrator of the internationally recognized Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn.

Jones has appeared as a guest conductor with the Minnesota Orchestra, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Sinfonie Orchester AML-Luzern (Switzerland) and other orchestras around the world. He has conducted all-state and festival orchestras in 46 states and five Canadian provinces. He has been conductor-in-residence at the North Carolina School of the Arts and the University of Miami (Fla.).

Tickets to "Cosi fan tutte, or the Loss of Innocence" are $20 ($15 for seniors and $10 for UI students and children under 18) and are available from the Hancher Auditorium box office. Hancher box office business hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. From the local calling area, dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial (319) 335-1158, which is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

Tickets may be ordered on-line 24 hours a day, seven days a week through Hancher's website

Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction. Information and brochures may be requested by e-mail at

The Martha-Ellen Tye Opera Theater and the UI School of Music are part of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Peter Alexander, 319-384-0072,

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