1st Night: Opera or Three's Company?
Opera is a form of entertainment largely performed by and for adults. Most of the better-known works deal with grown-up themes, and it takes performers years to train their voices to sing at the highest levels. With that in mind, it's hard to explain why every character in 1st Night behaves like an adolescent in a sitcom. When über-rich industrialist Sir Adam (Richard E. Grant) decides to shed his robber baron image by hosting (and costarring in) a production of Così Fan Tutte at his palatial estate, the stage is set for romantic shenanigans. Will Adam finally realize his love for conductor Celia (Sarah Brightman)? What dark secret is Phillip the director (Oliver Dimsdale) hiding from undersexed wife Tamsin (Emma Williams)? Can young Tom's (Julian Ovenden) burgeoning romance with Italian singer Nicoletta (Mia Maestro) survive the bet he made with Sir Adam that he could bed her before the opening performance? If these questions aren't important to you, at least there's some (heavily dubbed) Mozart to enjoy and several extended scenes set in Scotland's beautiful Manderston House to keep you distracted. The overlapping dialogue, setting, and basic plot suggest director Christopher Menaul was aiming for a blend of Altman (Gosford Park) and Renoir (The Rules of the Game), but the depressingly predictable script -- and tendency of everyone involved to jump to ridiculous conclusions -- suggests at best Noises Off and at worst Three's Company.
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