CCM Associate Professor of Opera Robin Guarino directs the Metropolitan Opera’s latest revival of Così fan tutte, which opened in New York City on November 9. This season, Mozart’s beloved opera buffa will be presented using the Lesley Koenig production, which Guarino has directed since 2001. Così fan tutte will run through December 2 in New York City.
Guarino, the J. Ralph Corbett Distinguished Chair in Opera for CCM, is no stranger to the Metropolitan Opera. She has directed numerous productions there since 1992. Guarino also has a certain expertise when it comes to Mozart. “I had the privilege of working with James Levine as a young director on all the Mozart repertoire. When I was 21 he told me I could watch any and all of his orchestra rehearsals. And when I was hired as a member of the stage directing staff I was assigned to all of Levine’s Mozart productions. Mozart became my area of specialization,” explains Guarino. Cincinnati-native James Levine is currently the music director at the Metropolitan Opera.
Met newcomer William Christie conducts this production. Christie is also the conductor of the early music group Les Arts Florissants. Guarino considers it a “great pleasure” to be working with the acclaimed conductor and a group of young and impressive talent with many of whom she has worked previously. “I directed Miah Persson (Fiordiligi) in her Met debut as Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier. Isabel Leonard (Dorabella) was a master’s student of mine from Juilliard. I have known Danielle de Niese (Despina) and Nathan Gunn (Guglielmo) since they were Young Artists in the Metropolitan Opera Lindeman Young Artist Development Program. I directed Ms. De Niese’s Metropolitan Opera debut as Barbarina in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro.”
Despite Guarino’s familiarity with the cast, the preparation of Così fan tutte had a few hitches. “We had a last minute cast change due to illness and the day before the final dress rehearsal we flew in baritone William Shimell to sing the role of Don Alfonso. I met him 2 hours before the dress and talked him through act one – and then at the break we talked through act two,” states Guarino. This last minute change has not hindered the production, however. “The final dress rehearsal was a great success –with adrenalin flowing and everyone on their toes. The chemistry is just right and we are hitting the ground running.”
Robin Guarino received her BA and MFA from Bard College and studied with Jean Pierre-Ponnelle at Munich State Opera and The Metropolitan Opera. Guarino is a former faculty member of The Juilliard School and has also taught and directed at Manhattan School of Music, Mannes College of Music, New York University Vocal Arts department and UCLA Vocal Arts department. She has worked as a stage director with The Metropolitan Opera, where she directed and restaged productions of Don Giovanni, Così fan tutte, The Magic Flute, The Marriage of Figaro and Lohengrin. Additional directing engagements include Glimmerglass Opera, Seattle Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, Virginia Opera, Chautauqua Opera and the American Symphony Orchestra in performances at Avery Fisher Hall and Alice Tully Hall. Recent engagements include The Marriage of Figaro and L’Étoile for the Wolf Trap Opera Festival, La Calisto, Iphigénie en Aulide and The Magic Flute for Juilliard Opera Theatre, Il Signor Bruschino for Gotham Chamber Opera and Giulio Cesare in Egitto for Seattle Opera. She has also directed Six Ten-Minute Operas I & II for the Eos Orchestra (New York City), which included the world premieres of chamber operas by Jake Heggie (Again) and Mark Adamo (Avow), the world premiere of David del Tredici’s monodrama Dracula (also with Eos) and the American premiere of Heinrich Sutermeister’s Die Schwarze Spinne for Gotham Chamber Opera. Also a filmmaker, she has produced and directed four independent films including Crossing the Atlantic, which was shown on PBS’ Independent Focus.