Così fan tutte

Così fan tutte at Lyric Opera of Chicago

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Così fan tutte

Così fan tutte at Lyric Opera of Chicago


by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Sung in Italian with projected English translations


Così fan tutte Opera Overview

Subtitled “The School for Lovers,” this beloved Mozart comedy is a probing look into romantic relationships. It starts out with a cynical philosopher’s bet that two beautiful young women can’t remain faithful to their fiancés for 24 hours. As the intrigue deepens, the young women’s affections—and those of the young men—move into a new place that’s risky and scary. The couples’ feelings reveal themselves through the sheer genius of Mozart and his brilliant librettist, Da Ponte. Così fan tutte is the epitome of sophisticated, thought-provoking entertainment.
“Ana María Martínez’s soprano harks back to the golden age…as impressive in its quiet moments as it is at full power.”
Opera News



Così fan tutte is a joint production of Opéra de Monte-Carlo and San Francisco Opera.

Approximate Running Time: 3 hours, 25 minutes with 1 intermission



Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Così fan tutte Opera Resources

Join us in the theater one hour before the curtain rises for a free, 30-minute preview talk about the opera. Learn more about pre-opera talks.


Two young officers, Ferrando and Guglielmo, make a wager with their older, cynical friend Don Alfonso that their fiancées, Fiordiligi and Dorabella, can remain faithful for 24 hours. In a musical diversion that involves mischief, mustaches, and mistaken identities, Così fan tutte explores the complexities of love, with laughter and a little heartbreak in this bittersweet comedy.

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Così fan tutte

Audio Highlights

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Warner Classics recording — Schwarzkopf, Ludwig, Kraus, cond. Böhm. Courtesy of Warner Classics.

“Una bella serenata”

“Alla bella Despinetta”

“Prenderò quel brunettino”

Così fan tutte

Opera Commentary

commentary by Nicholas Ivor Martin

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I Puritani opera tickets at Lyric Opera of Chicago

Season of Delights

The wittiest and most sophisticated of Mozart’s operas is Così fan tutte (That’s What Women Do), the tale of an aging, cynical philosopher who makes a bet with two young men that their fiancées can’t remain faithful for 24 hours.

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Music for Così fan tutte provided by through generous arrangement with Warner Classics, Official Education and Promotion Music Provider for Lyric Opera of Chicago.

© 2017/18 Lyric Opera Commentaries Original sound recordings of musical excerpts used by permission of Warner Music Group. All rights reserved. Recording & Production services provided by Mark Travis.
Lyric Opera Commentaries are sponsored by the Patrick G. and Shirley Welsh Ryan Foundation in memory of their parents.

Photos: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Così fan tutte Synopsis

TIME: August 1914
PLACE: A hotel at a Mediterranean resort

Don Alfonso is trying to enlighten Ferrando and Guglielmo as to the true nature of women. He places a bet that he can prove their fiancées, Fiordiligi and Dorabella, are not the icons of purity the men believe them to be. Both sides are confident of victory within twenty-four hours.

Sisters Fiordiligi and Dorabella are celebrating the perfection of their lovers. Don Alfonso arrives and tells them that their men have been called up and must leave immediately for the battlefront. The men enact a farewell scene and “go off to war.” The women are devastated, but the maid Despina tells them to look on the bright side and have a good time in their absence – in other words, behave exactly as men would.

Don Alfonso and Despina work together to this end. Don Alfonso introduces two Albanian friends whom Despina in turn introduces to the sisters. None of the three women penetrate the disguises of Ferrando and Guglielmo. Fiordiligi and Dorabella are offended to see the strange men and repelled by their advances. They declare fidelity to their lovers. The young men are delighted, but Don Alfonso is quite relaxed.

The sisters continue to grieve. The two rejected strangers return to them, swallow “poison” and collapse. The terrified girls call for Despina, who goes with Don Alfonso to find a doctor. Fiordiligi and Dorabella try to help the “dying” strangers. Don Alfonso returns with Despina disguised as a doctor who claims to cure everything by magnetism. The men revive, and believing they are in heaven, demand a kiss from their “angels” Fiordiligi and Dorabella. The sisters manage to resist again.

Despina persuades the sisters to befriend their new admirers. They decide on preferences — Dorabella chooses Guglielmo; Fiordiligi, Ferrando. Each has instinctively chosen the other’s partner. Don Alfonso and Despina cement the new love affairs in the context of a masquerade. The couples pair up and Dorabella yields to Guglielmo. Fiordiligi rejects Ferrando, for the time being. Ferrando and Guglielmo exchange notes on their progress. Ferrando is furious, and Guglielmo is triumphant but brutally dismissive of the fallen Dorabella.

Despina and Dorabella put pressure on Fiordiligi. Fiordiligi decides she must run away to join Guglielmo at war, but Ferrando confronts her again and she too yields. Agonized, Guglielmo witnesses it all. Don Alfonso has proven his point and won the bet.

Don Alfonso and Despina arrange for the new couples to be “married” by Despina disguised as a notary. As the girls sign their names, a military band is heard. Apparently the soldiers have returned unexpectedly. In the confusion, the two men disappear, re-emerging without their disguises. Shocked at the evidence of a wedding they swear vengeance on their rivals.

The plot is revealed. All four lovers’ certainties have been destroyed. No one quite knows what to feel, except that certainly human nature has been at work.