MOZART'S story of cynical betting on human frailty is impeccably performed by a strong young cast with the support of Opera North's excellent orchestra.

Two young soldiers, Ferrando and Guglielmo, are shocked when their older friend Don Alfonso suggests that the two sisters they hope to marry are incapable of being faithful. Confidently, they accept a wager that Don Alfonso can prove his point, and embark on a plan to test the girls' fidelity.

The sisters, Fiordiligi and Dorabella, are a pair of innocents and Don Alfonso enlists the aid of their saucy ladies' maid, Despina, to help lead them astray.

This new production, sung in English, features an updated libretto which contains lots of little jokes and light-hearted asides. All credit to the young lady who undertook signing the whole performance for the hearing impaired, a monumental task carried out with humour and a feeling for the music.

Opera North goes from strength to strength, and this company is amazingly good; if I had to pick one person from the talented cast it would be Claire Wild, bringing Despina to life with a light comic touch.

I found the performance a trifle long at three-and-a-quarter hours, but it's worth a numb derriere for Mozart and Opera North!

* Cosi Fan Tutte runs again tonight; on Friday it's Manon Lescaut, with Orfeo ed Euridice on Saturday. Box office: 0870 905 5060

Published: 14/10/2004