Così fan tutte
Così fan tutte
by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
FEBRUARY 17 – MARCH 16
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
– Opera News
Approximate Running Time: 3 hours, 25 minutes with 1 intermission
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera
Così fan tutte Opera Resources
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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.
Audio HighlightsWolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Warner Classics recording — Schwarzkopf, Ludwig, Kraus, cond. Böhm. Courtesy of Warner Classics.
“Una bella serenata”
“Alla bella Despinetta”
“Prenderò quel brunettino”
commentary by Nicholas Ivor Martin
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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.