Ghost of Mozart in ‘Cosi’ and ‘Clemenza’

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The cast of “Cosi”. Photo: Helen Drum.

THE ghost of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart may well be lurking in the shadows of Canberra this weekend, with the opening of Louis Nowra’s 1992 play “Così” at Canberra REP tomorrow night, April 9, and Mozart’s opera “La Clemenza di Tito” at Llewellyn Hall on Saturday, April 10.

Canberra REP held a media call on Tuesday, April 6, in which the lines between sanity and insanity were exceedingly blurred.

Set in a burnt-out theatre against the backdrop of the political activism of the Vietnam War, “Così” sees the idealistic young drama graduate Lewis (Martin Fatmaja) taking a job directing a play in a Melbourne mental facility, armed with the theories of Bertolt Brecht. Something similar happened to playwright Nowra when he was young.

But Ben’s plans are thwarted by the grandiose dreams of inpatient Roy (Chris Baldock), who wants to stage Mozart’s opera “Così Fan Tutte” in Italian, despite the fact that nobody can sing.

Mozart’s opera already boasted the most ridiculous plot in the entire western opera repertoire, full of implausible mistaken identities and fake Albanians.

Not to worry. To livewire director Sophie Benassi in her directorial debut for REP, everyone seems to be having a thoroughly good time working through a plot that teeters on the edge all the time.

Benassi is a well-known drama teacher and director here, but has been off for the past year doing an MFA in directing at NIDA, now returning to Canberra to join Chris Baldock in his enterprise, Mockingbird Theatre.

As to the cast members of “Così”, even the smallest parts in the play are juicy.

Baldock gets the plum part of inpatient Roy, who is obsessed with Mozart.

One worrying thing when you perceive “Così” from the 2021 perspective, they say, is that most of the characters, including the volatile character Cherry played by Steph Roberts, would now not be hospitalised.

Like the Mozart original, “Così” is full of what Baldock calls “sexist misogynist rubbish”.

A great premise on which to build a play, you’d have to say.

“Così” at Canberra REP, 3 Repertory Lane, Acton, April 8-24. Book here or 6257 1950.

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Helen Musa
“CityNews” arts editor

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