To La Monnaie this evening for a most enjoyable performance of Mozart’s (and da Ponte’s) politically incorrect Cosi fan tutte. As we now almost inadvertently expect, the singing and the acting of the cast and the playing and conducting of the orchestra were of a very high quality. But Cristoph Kanter’s deceptively simple set plays a particularly important part in this production’s success. The curtain opens on a broad, marble-paved living room, with steps leading to a glassed-off terrace. We see reflections of characteristic yellow stucco and green shutters, but we are completely inside a grand house, and it is here, in the room or on the terrace, that all of the action takes place. Behind the terrace is the suggestion of a garden and a port, and beyond that is a distinctively Neapolitan sky that slowly darkens as day turns to night (and as the plot similarly darkens) until stars twinkle. On one side of the room an inbuilt fridge-cum-bar is frequently visited by members of the cast in various states of desperation and on the other an open fire and a long sofa provide spaces for more intimate scenes. Curtains are sometimes drawn to enclose the room. And that’s it. The actors inhabit the forward space very cleverly (full marks to director Michael Haneke), with the choir restricted, as frequent onlookers, to the terrace outside. Through the simple device of the room, the audience are also cunningly turned into voyeurs. The cast wears a mixture of period and modern costume and that also worked very well. Haneke is having none of the libretto’s ‘they-all-lived-happily-ever-after’ ending and the audience is left in no doubt that the legacy of Don Alfonso’s supercilious wager is the creation of two warring and jealous couples. (For some reason this line, sung by Fiordiligi and Dorabella, seemed particularly relevant to me (I wonder why): ‘Ah, che un mar pien di tormento E la vita ormai per me!’) A most enjoyable evening.