What do men really get up to in their private clubs? From P.G. Wodehouse’s zanily useless Drones to Phileas Fogg’s beloved, unchanging Reform, or the irrefutably Establishment Diogenes Club (favoured haunt of Sherlock Holmes’s brother Mycroft), the secret retreats of gentlemen hold a perennial fascination for those shut out of their select circle. But, contrary to certain recent political biographies, what happens inside those clubs is often disappointingly mundane, as the curious women of Wolf-Ferrari’s title are bound to discover.
Dom Baker’s superb video designs frame the opera as a 1960s TV sitcom, an approach which suits the Commedia dell’arte-inspired plot exceptionally well: its stock characters, like Arlecchino (Harlequin) and Colombina, are effectively the Renaissance’s answer to Friends, after all.