Not So Cosy Fan Tutti
The beleaguered Dorset Royal Opera’s planned season at Her Majesty’s Theatre East Creech [HERE] was cast into serious doubt yesterday when local authority CONTRIK-69 wardens confirmed that if the theatre is allowed to open at all it will have to do so with a maximum capacity of 12 and with each audience member quarantined inside a 3”-thick sealed and only lightly perforated Perspex box.
The theatre - normal capacity 1,800 - had already removed 1,600 seats and 200 supporting pillars to comply with an earlier directive but learned late last week that further measures would be required if permission to re-open was to be considered. A senior member of the Theatre's board - former RDO Artistic Language Coach Lib Retto - confirmed that that contract staff had already filled in the orchestra pit, bricked up the boxes, isolated the bar and foyer, sealed the fly tower, screened the wings, swabbed the stage and mothballed both the amphitheatre and the dress circle. She described the latest requirements as "disappointing and probably not viable in the current economic climate". “Ideally we need an audience of at least 1,500 just to break even", she said, "which probably means we would have to hire the Threadbone Arena, Great Heaving (normal capacity 88,000) to accommodate as many audience members as we need - but even then we wouldn’t be able to afford the 12,000 sanitisation points, 800 socially distanced toilets or 1,500 extra-laminated wipe down programmes". Asked if the Company had considered live streaming, Ms Retto  said she could not see how diverting local rivers would help in what was, to all intents and purposes, an artistic matter.
The RDO's 2020-2021 season was to have opened with a vocally-diminished and socially distanced performance of - appropriately enough - Così fan Tutti (roughly translated as either “They make it up as they go along” or “The government hasn’t got a f***ing clue”) in a new production by Poxwell CFE-trained Chinese-French wunderkind, Wun de Kinde. The avant garde director whose previous productions for the Company include Rossini's comic masterpiece Il Turco in Ibberton set in a completely dark post-holocaust septic tank, has set Così - the evergreen story of sexual politics between men and women - in a post-CONTRIK-69 social dystopia where all the men are dead, thus allowing the female cast and reduced orchestra - all of whom are obliged to wear bio-hazard gear - to appear perfectly natural on and off stage. [Spoiler alert: in this production the women are on top.] [Aren't they always? [Features Ed]. Only twice a month as a treat where I come from [Sub Ed]. Too much information [Ed].]
Plans for the delayed premier of Così on 21st June 2024 are now on indefinite hold. Last season’s postponed productions of Donizetti's Lucia di Littlemoor and Verdi’s La Battaglia di Lidlynch have been shelved sine die pending a politically acceptable and Dorset Equal Opportunities Commission approved plot rewrite.