The curse has struck again.
"It is cursed. It is the Così curse. You can call it that," says Cabaret Otaku's Christina Marzano Haystead. For the second time in a year, the alternative opera troupe is cancelling its planned update of Mozart's famous Così Fan Tutte called Così: The Series, which was supposed to start October 7 at the Mercury Cafe.
Last summer's attempted production was derailed by the state's fires and a family emergency, leading the group to substitute a benefit called Fighting Fire with Opera in its stead. This most recent effort suffered a series of unfortunate events that eventually were too much to overcome.
"It was just one of those situations where, no matter what we did, it just would not [work]. It was like we were basically swimming upstream the entire time," Haystead explains. "It was like a British farce. It was like Molière wrote this! We were like, 'Do we want to attempt to put this up, or do we want to just say this one needs to get buried?' And we decided this sucker needs to get buried."
The planned show is a modern twist on Mozart's classic story of a pair of friends who set out to discover how faithful their betrotheds are through a convoluted plot of fiancée-swapping. This production was to incorporate a breakdown of the fourth wall that would have put the audience in the action, and update the opera's female characters to make them more active players in the piece's central relationship farce, according to Haystead.
"It was really a fun version, we are sad to see it go ... but as a young company we don't want to put crap on the stage," she says. "[Opera] is considered to be so highbrow, but if you look at the plot .. it is a sitcom! It's Friends, it's How I Met Your Mother, it's ... people messing around with each other's love lives. You could repackage it, put it in English and slap it on prime time and no one would know the difference. It's a time-proven formula and Mozart did it."
It was also a perfect fit for Cabaret Otaku, which aims to take the stuffiness out of opera and make it safe for the masses. "We're trying to take opera back to the way it used to be, putting it in public places, taking the sort of highbrow aspect away from it," Haystead says. "[We're] keeping the high art, but making it something that people used to do 200 years ago. They would go to salons, music would be played by the masters, and it would be a good time."
Fans in need of an alt-opera fix can still get one, as the group is planning a free recital on October 14 at the Mercury Cafe as a replacement. "We decided we're just going to go and have a recital. We want to go out and make music, give something back," Haystead says. "We're all just going to be pulling out our best stuff, making music and raising a glass to the demise of the show. Basically, we're giving it a wake."
After that comes the Opera Bowl in January and February, which pits teams of singers against each other in what Haystead calls a "really fun, slightly goofy, high art competition."
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As for Cosi, it's still in the plans, but it will be a while before Cabaret Otaku is ready to try again. "Probably at least two or three years before we touch it," she says. "I think it needs to get some good time in its grave."