The San Francisco Opera opened its season last Saturday and picked up right where it left off last time we visited. , just like Cosi fan Tutti, is another joyful and energetic opera, another fun comedy of an opera, which should reach to a wide audience. The continuity is musical as well: Rossini was inspired by the language of Mozart. He actually composed The Italian Girl In Algiers in 1813, a mere 22 years after Amadeus’ last opera. He was 21 years old and composed the opera in 18 days. 18 days! Maybe John Adams will start writing Dr. Atomic soon. To put this in perspective, when we were 21, our main achievement was not to miss dollar pint night for a whole semester. One could hear Mozart’s influence in general, but in particular the piccolo in the overture reminded us of the Magic Flute, as well as the choice of Papatachi as a title for one of the characters echoed Mozart’s wit with Papageno.

Again, as for Cosi last season, the performance is displaced in time. However, there start the differences. Cosi was a farce too, but grounded in some seriousness by its setting in the ominous background of WWI. One does wild things indeed when the apocalypse is near. The Italian Girl in Algiers, on the other hand, is costumed for the 1930s, happens in a land of fantasy, and is light all the way.

Picture by Terry McCarthy. From left to right: William Burden (Lindoro), Catherine Cook (Zulma), Jane Archibald (Elvira), Ildar Abdrazakov (Mustafà; seated), Bojan Knežević (Haly), Olga Borodina (Isabella), and Ricardo Herrera (Taddeo).

The Italian Girl in Algiers