Fiona Murphy as Korabella and Susan Gritton as Fiordiligl in the Kiarostami-directed version of Mozart's Cosi fan Tutte.
Fiona Murphy as Korabella and Susan Gritton as Fiordiligl in the Kiarostami-directed version of Mozart's Cosi fan Tutte.

Cosi fan Kiarostami

The Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami's production of Mozart's Cosi fan Tutte has read like a film script. First seen at Aix-en-Provence last year, the production, which opens this month as part of the English National Opera's (ENO) summer season, has been directed long-distance by Kiarostami from Tehran.

Having encountered frustrating treatment at the hands of the British embassy in Iran while attempting to arrange a visa, the director took the decision not to travel to London. Instead, the reins were passed to the assistant director Elaine Tyler-Hall, and Kiarostami remained director in absentia, guiding the cast through e-mails and telephone calls. His involvement marks the film world's latest foray into the world of opera, but the idea of film directors taking on the genre of opera is nothing new. In 1940, the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow invited Sergei Eisenstein to stage Richard Wagner's Die Walkure. Since then, Ingmar Bergman, Andrei Tarkovsky, Baz Luhrmann, Luchino Visconti, Roman Polanski, Francis Ford Coppola, William Friedkin and Woody Allen have all turned their considerable talents to opera. Later this month, Anthony Minghella's Madame Butterfly will return to London after a successful spell in New York. The Chinese film director Zhang Yimou will stage a production of the opera Turandot at the Bird's Nest Olympic Stadium in Beijing this autumn. Since the Olympics ended last summer, organisers have struggled to make use of the space afforded by the building or to draw visitors. It is hoped that this large-scale production will help to transform the Bird's Nest into an arts venue.

Despite this long and successful association between film and opera, Kiarostami was initially concerned about taking on the commission. He frequently scores his films with classical music, but Cosi fan Tutte marks his first opera. Having been approached by Bernard Foccroulle, the general director of the Aix-en-Provence festival, to direct the work, the Iranian said yes, despite harbouring reservations about cultural differences and a lack of operatic knowledge.

But on reading the libretto, he realised that the themes of the opera were both universal and timeless, and therefore would potentially appeal to a wider audience. He also recognised that the theatrical intimacy of the opera, which revolves around the dealings of six main characters, was not dissimilar to the intimacy promoted in much of his screen work. Such works include The Wind Will Carry Us, the story of a city engineer who journeys to rural Iran and discovers new social values; Ten, which details a female driver's conversations with passengers, and A Taste of Cherry, a contemplative tale of a middle-aged man who has resolved to commit suicide for which Kiarostami won the Palme d'Or at Cannes in 1997.

The opera begins with an elderly gentleman known as Don Alfonso suggesting to two lovers that their fiancées are not to be trusted. The men, however, maintain that their women are loyal and faithful. A cash bet ensues and a plan is concocted by Alfonso to prove that all women are the same, the suggested meaning of "cosi fan tutte". The plot involves the men pretending that they have been called up for obligatory military service, but secretly disguising themselves and testing the honesty of the other's female companion. What starts out as harmless fun degenerates into something more sinister as the women become receptive to their new partners. Billed as an opera buffa, or comedy, Cosi fan Tutte is a revealing and at times disturbing portrait of fickleness, self-deception and the duplicity and arbitrariness of love.

For Kiarostami, a director concerned with human interaction and notions of selfhood, the opera's interrogation of morality and interest in the competing notions of ruthless pragmatism and naive idealism, was an attractive formula. Kiarostami's film roots are clear in the ENO production and scenes are played against pre-recorded backdrops. In the opening act, Don Alfonso, Ferrando and Guglielmo argue about the nature of women in front of shocked customers at a Neapolitan café. The filmed crowd reacts to the protagonists, amplifying and increasing the resonance of the three performers on stage. There are parallels in this technique with his recent film, Shirin, in which the faces and emotional reactions of 100 women are recorded as they watch a film.

In many of Cosi fan Tutte's later scenes, Kiarostami uses a series of shots of the Italian coast. Boats are shown arriving and departing, helping to disguise the men's plot and heightening the emotional response of the women as they watch their lovers helplessly from the shore. In the final scenes, film of ENO's orchestra and the director Stefan Klingele accompanies the mock wedding; Klingele's celluloid figure takes a bow as the final chords die away.

The effect of these backdrops is to transform the often static and remote world of the opera into something living, breathing and believable. The backdrops never distract from the central action on stage, but instead enhance its presence. Kiarostami combines his filmmaking abilities with a passion for photography, graphic art and set design to produce a multilayered, dimensional setting. Images of the vast sea seem to open up the walls of London's Coliseum theatre, disintegrating the barrier between real and imagined, while the inclusion of the orchestral footage paradoxically - and quite deliberately - reminds the audience that it is exactly that; a spectator in a staged drama.

"Film, music and theatre are currently so linked that it is difficult to separate them," says Tyler-Hall. "The different media are so mixed nowadays that people from different backgrounds and with different approaches are able to bring something new to fields beyond that of their own expertise. It isn't that opera was stuck in a rut before film directors turned to the genre, but that we now have an overarching and detailed view of the opera, from different angles. Film directors often have unique vision and imagination."

"It is a very different way of working," she continues. "But once they appreciate the different demands of the genre, they are able to fully explore their vision. When you are using new techniques and rehearsing and rehearsing sometimes it is easy for film directors to become frightened of losing the freshness. On screen, they strive to capture that freshness. If they lose that freshness, they need to find a way of rediscovering and recapturing it for each audience, so that it remains tangible over and over again.

"The presence of film directors in the world of opera is a positive thing. They are making productions accessible to a whole new audience and that is something that the ENO is passionate about. The joys of opera should not be locked away or reserved for a select audience. Directors like Kiarostami are helping to bring a new audience to opera and opera to a new audience."

Company Profile

Name: Direct Debit System
Started: Sept 2017
Based: UAE with a subsidiary in the UK
Industry: FinTech
Funding: Undisclosed
Investors: Elaine Jones
Number of employees: 8


Bantamweight Hamza Bougamza (MAR) v Jalal Al Daaja (JOR)

Catchweight 67kg Mohamed El Mesbahi (MAR) v Fouad Mesdari (ALG)

Lighweight Abdullah Mohammed Ali (UAE) v Abdelhak Amhidra (MAR)

Catchweight 73kg Mostafa Ibrahim Radi (PAL) v Yazid Chouchane (ALG)

Middleweight Yousri Belgaroui (TUN) v Badreddine Diani (MAR)

Catchweight 78kg Rashed Dawood (UAE) v Adnan Bushashy (ALG)

Middleweight Sallaheddine Dekhissi (MAR) v Abdel Emam (EGY)

Catchweight 65kg Rachid Hazoume (MAR) v Yanis Ghemmouri (ALG)

Lighweight Mohammed Yahya (UAE) v Azouz Anwar (EGY)

Catchweight 79kg Omar Hussein (PAL) v Souhil Tahiri (ALG)

Middleweight Tarek Suleiman (SYR) v Laid Zerhouni (ALG)

The Little Mermaid

Director: Rob Marshall
Stars: Halle Bailey, Jonah Hauer-King, Melissa McCarthy, Javier Bardem
Rating: 2/5

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Courtesy: Carol Glynn

Heavily-sugared soft drinks slip through the tax net

Some popular drinks with high levels of sugar and caffeine have slipped through the fizz drink tax loophole, as they are not carbonated or classed as an energy drink.

Arizona Iced Tea with lemon is one of those beverages, with one 240 millilitre serving offering up 23 grams of sugar - about six teaspoons.

A 680ml can of Arizona Iced Tea costs just Dh6.

Most sports drinks sold in supermarkets were found to contain, on average, five teaspoons of sugar in a 500ml bottle.


Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).
Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).

Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).


Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends

Engine: 3.5-litre V6

Transmission: eight-speed automatic

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Developer: From Software (remaster by QLOC)
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Price: Dh199

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People infected with hepatitis C experience few or no symptoms, meaning they can live with the virus for years without being diagnosed. This delay in treatment can increase the risk of significant liver damage.

There are an estimated 170 million carriers of Hepatitis C around the world.

The virus causes approximately 399,000 fatalities each year worldwide, according to WHO.



Produced: Lionsgate Films, Shanghai Ryui Entertainment, Street Light Entertainment
Directed: Roland Emmerich
Cast: Ed Skrein, Woody Harrelson, Dennis Quaid, Aaron Eckhart, Luke Evans, Nick Jonas, Mandy Moore, Darren Criss
Rating: 3.5/5 stars


Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
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Fuel consumption: 8.7L/100km

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Company Profile

Company name: Cargoz
Date started: January 2022
Founders: Premlal Pullisserry and Lijo Antony
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 30
Investment stage: Seed

Switching sides

Mahika Gaur is the latest Dubai-raised athlete to attain top honours with another country.

Velimir Stjepanovic (Serbia, swimming)
Born in Abu Dhabi and raised in Dubai, he finished sixth in the final of the 2012 Olympic Games in London in the 200m butterfly final.

Jonny Macdonald (Scotland, rugby union)
Brought up in Abu Dhabi and represented the region in international rugby. When the Arabian Gulf team was broken up into its constituent nations, he opted to play for Scotland instead, and went to the Hong Kong Sevens.

Sophie Shams (England, rugby union)
The daughter of an English mother and Emirati father, Shams excelled at rugby in Dubai, then after attending university in the UK played for England at sevens.

Most F1 world titles

7 — Michael Schumacher (1994, ’95, 2000, ’01 ’02, ’03, ’04)

7 — Lewis Hamilton (2008, ’14,’15, ’17, ’18, ’19, ’20)

5 — Juan Manuel Fangio (1951, ’54, ’55, ’56, ’57)

4 — Alain Prost (1985, ’86, ’89, ’93)

4 — Sebastian Vettel (2010, ’11, ’12, ’13)

The specs: 2018 Renault Koleos

Price, base: From Dh77,900
Engine: 2.5L, in-line four-cylinder
Transmission: Continuously variable transmission
Power: 170hp @ 6,000rpm
Torque: 233Nm @ 4,000rpm
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The 12 breakaway clubs


Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur

AC Milan, Inter Milan, Juventus

Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Real Madrid

Suggested picnic spots

Abu Dhabi
Umm Al Emarat Park
Yas Gateway Park
Delma Park
Al Bateen beach
Saadiyaat beach
The Corniche
Zayed Sports City
Kite Beach
Zabeel Park
Al Nahda Pond Park
Mushrif Park
Safa Park
Al Mamzar Beach Park
Al Qudrah Lakes 


July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

Hydrogen: Market potential

Hydrogen has an estimated $11 trillion market potential, according to Bank of America Securities and is expected to generate $2.5tn in direct revenues and $11tn of indirect infrastructure by 2050 as its production increases six-fold.

"We believe we are reaching the point of harnessing the element that comprises 90 per cent of the universe, effectively and economically,” the bank said in a recent report.

Falling costs of renewable energy and electrolysers used in green hydrogen production is one of the main catalysts for the increasingly bullish sentiment over the element.

The cost of electrolysers used in green hydrogen production has halved over the last five years and will fall to 60 to 90 per cent by the end of the decade, acceding to Haim Israel, equity strategist at Merrill Lynch. A global focus on decarbonisation and sustainability is also a big driver in its development.


Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

The Greatest Royal Rumble card as it stands

50-man Royal Rumble - names entered so far include Braun Strowman, Daniel Bryan, Kurt Angle, Big Show, Kane, Chris Jericho, The New Day and Elias

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WWE World Heavyweight Championship AJ Styles (champion) v Shinsuke Nakamura

Intercontinental Championship Seth Rollins (champion) v The Miz v Finn Balor v Samoa Joe

United States Championship Jeff Hardy (champion) v Jinder Mahal

SmackDown Tag Team Championship The Bludgeon Brothers (champions) v The Usos

Raw Tag Team Championship (currently vacant) Cesaro and Sheamus v Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt

Casket match The Undertaker v Chris Jericho

Singles match John Cena v Triple H

Cruiserweight Championship Cedric Alexander v tba