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OCU to Livestream Socially Distanced “I Love Lucy”-Inspired Take on Mozart’s “Così fan tutte”

A reimagining of Mozart’s comic opera “Così fan tutteas a socially distanced 1950s-era American sitcom will be livestreamed worldwide Nov. 4 and 5 by the Wanda L. Bass School of Music at Oklahoma City University.

The opera will be compressed to 90 minutes, without intermission, and performed in English to a virtual audience. Two separate casts will perform at 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday on OCU’s historic Kirkpatrick Stage.

Free access to the global livestream is available through tiny.cc/basslivestream.

The plot — encompassing love, faithfulness, forgiveness, mistaken identities and a bet gone awry — will unfold as performers remain masked and maintain a separation of at least 10 feet.

The COVID-19-mandated parameters inspired guest director Matthew Sipress, an OCU alumnus and company manager for Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma, to reimagine an updated setting for the opera’s classic hijinks, disguises, mistaken identities and romance.

“I thought to myself, ‘when was a period in time when intimacy meant something different?’ or ‘when was a period in time when intimacy was portrayed to the masses in a different way?’” Sipress said. “And I thought of 1950s television.”

Specifically, he thought of the world of the 1950s CBS sitcom “I Love Lucy.”

“Substitute Dorabella and Ferrando for Ethel and Fred, Gugliemo and Fiordiligi for Ricky and Lucy, move them from 18th century Naples to 1950s [America], throw in a disguise or two and you've got it, more or less,” The Washington Post wrote in a 1983 review of similar staging. “Everyone fools and everyone is fooled. Things are not always what they seem, and they are also exactly that.”

The OCU cast features Viviana Goodwin and Nadjalie Santos as Fiordiligi; Rebecca Hundley and Sadie Koopman as Dorabella; Ánh-Mai Kearney and Delaney Kinney as Despina; Jason Gonzales Larsen and Adam White as Ferrando; Collin Ellsbury and Paul Gutman as Guglielmo; and Jackson Buhr as Don Alfonso.

Music director Jan McDaniel and graduate student Rachel Whatley will perform the score on twin grand pianos.

The “I Love Lucy”-meets-Mozart production features set design by Jason Foreman, lighting design by Landry Strickland, costumes by Gabriela Bastidas and props by Katelyn Walp. Stage manager Eliana Perez is assisted by Keegan Johnston and Abbey Helfan.

Così fan tutte made its debut in Vienna 230 years ago, on Jan. 26, 1790. It is the third of three collaborations between Mozart and librettist Lorenzo da Ponte, following “Le nozze di Figaro” (1786) and “Don Giovanni” (1787).

OCU’s award-wining Oklahoma Opera and Music Theater Company opened its 69th consecutive season earlier this month with the collegiate premiere of “Monty Python’s Spamalot: Socially Distant Concert-ish Version.” The company’s spring 2021 season will be announced in the weeks to come.

For additional 2020-21 performances at the Bass School of Music, visit www.okcu.edu/music or www.facebook.com/bassschoolofmusic.

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