A famous Mozart opera has undergone a surprising make-over in the name of peace and reconciliation.
This very special adaptation of Così fan tutte brings together world-famous opera singers, chamber orchestra musicians and Syrian refugees who have fled civil war in their country.
It was stage director Bernd Schmitt’s idea to use a refugee’s dormitory as a setting for the opera.
The founder of the project, German mezzo soprano Cornelia Lanz, has spent several months working with the refugees, who have found shelter in this 14th century monastery in Oggelsbeuren in Southern Germany.
“In my lifetime in Germany, I have never felt the war but now sitting together, talking together, looking at movies, I really am very touched and very hurt about what war does to people. And so, with this project, the war is transported and we really want to make it into a message of peace for Syrians but also for the whole world,” she says.
With no prior experience in performing, some of the refugees were initially reluctant to get involved in the project. However, for 18-year-old Maysa Chemali, it was a chance to break the monotony of her life as a refugee.
“At the first, beginning, I thought that Germany is not good and so boring, and we have no future here. But after the opera and after we sing our scales through the opera, I saw that there’s a future for us and (I am) so excited to be in Germany and we are so lucky here,” says the young refugee.
The libretto has also been laced with patriotic songs like ‘Janna Janna’ .
Ahmad Osmani, who was arrested and detained for six months in Syria, hopes that songs like this will resonate with people around the world.
“We have a song – we sing it – called ‘Janna’. ‘Janna’ means paradise. Our message is asking for peace. Stop war. Enough blood. This is our message,” he says.
After premiering in Stuttgart, this unique staging of Mozart’s Così fan tutte will be touring Germany, ending in the capital Berlin in February.