Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Così fan tutte
Sung in Italian with Czech and English subtitles.
Premiere 18th May 2018, Mahen Theatre
Do not test your relationship, or you risk your girlfriend giving her feelings to another man.
They are all alike, or the School of Lovers, is the title of the third opera which emerged from the artistic partnership between the librettist Lorenzo da Ponte and the composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. At first, Salieri tried to set the libretto to music but soon he abandoned this idea, and the story about a seemingly harmless bet on women’s faithfulness ended up in the most professional hands. In people’s relationships, nothing is just black or white and that is especially truein this opera. Mozart continued his previous works, Don Giovanni and The Marriage of Figaro, which cannot be easily categorized – as there is always a wicked smile peeping out from these dramas, or tears and anger hidden behind laughter. The same applies for this opera: two young guys, Ferrando and Guglielmo, encouraged by the sceptic Don Alfonzo, disguise themselves as foreigners to test the faithfulness of their fiancées. However, before the game ends, they are caught in a web of emotions because of this false game. The audience of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century considered this subject matter vulgar and immoral, and Cosi fan tutte almost disappeared from opera stages. Today, it rightfully belongsamong the most frequently produced operas – as not only are its arias and ensembles great opera hits but the work produced by Mozart through contrast and musical expression, is a real jewel of the operatic repertoire.
It is not advisable to play with human emotions, and certainly not to wager on them, otherwise it is easy to get caught up in the spider’s web of your own game which quickly stops being fun when things rise to the surface that you never wanted to know about yourself or your partner.
Don Alfonso and Despina’s relationship has already gown stale and both now act quite cynically in matters of love. Alfonso’s young friends Ferrando and Guglielmo are in love and sing only about the beauty of Dorabella and Fiordiligi. Their naivety provokes Don Alfonso to declare that no woman is perfect and faithful. He lays a wager – the following day, Ferrando and Guglielmo have to do what he tells them and then they will see whether women remain true to their feelings. The two young men swear on their honour as officers and the game can begin.
Dorabella and Fiordiligi are happily in love. Their good mood is disturbed by a gloomy Don Alfonso who tells them that their fiancés have been called off to war and have to leave immediately. Ferrando and Guglielmo arrive and there are tearful farewells. The girls are desperate and their maid, Despina, tries to convince them that nothing is stopping them from having fun with other men while theirs are away – for they will definitely not be a model of faithfulness.
Don Alfonso brings in Ferrando and Guglielmo disguised as Albanians to seduce the ladies. Despina isn’t deceived for long, but she decides to go along with their game. The sisters are alarmed – how could they bring strange men into their home. Ferrando and Guglielmo try, albeit clumsily, to win over their favour, and it doesn’t take long for Dorabella and Fiordiligi to figure out that they are their fiancés. They do not understand what it all means and angrily throw them out of the house.
The men laugh, imagining that they have won the wager, but Don Alfonso reminds them that they promised to listen to his orders until the second day. The second attempt to win the affection of the ladies is by pretending to take poison. Fiordiligi and Dorabella are terrified, and although they are angry and have not admitted to seeing through the disguises, they certainly do not want their fiancés to die. Despina arrives dressed as a doctor and with the help of the ladies saves them both from ‘poisoning’. Dorabella and Fiordiligi are relieved but adamantly refuse the kiss demanded by the Albanians.
Despina persuades the girls to act like women and have some fun in life by flirting with the foreign men. Dorabella admits to Fiordiligi that she is not against the idea of joining in the game, but in order to punish their fiancés for deception, they agree to swap them. Ferrando and Guglielmo arrive and are surprised that the ladies are willing to go with them, but they join up with the wrong partner. Ferrando goes off nervously with Fiordiligi and Guglielmo remains alone with Dorabella. She decides to punish him and responds willingly to his seduction. Guglielmo is shocked but takes advantage of the situation.
Ferrando did not get anywhere with Fiordiligi and joyfully comes to tell his friend that his fiancée has been faithful to him. However, bad news awaits him, and Guglielmo tries to persuade him that all women are like that.
Fiordiligi admits to Dorabella that she is in love – but with Ferrando and not Guglielmo. They decide to end the game and tell Despina to bring them their fiancés’ uniforms. However, before they are able to do anything, Ferrando appears and Fiordiligi succumbs to her growing feelings for him.
Now it’s Ferrando’s turn to give Guglielmo the bad news, but Don Alfonso assures them that all women are like that, and they should reconcile themselves to it and get married.
A wedding is organised for the new couples – Ferrando and Fiordiligi, and Guglielmo and Dorabella. However, Guglielmo is unhappy with the swap and is jealous of the couple who are obviously in love. Despina arrives disguised as a notary and both couples sign a wedding contract. The celebration is interrupted by a loud noise as Don Alfonso stages the return of the officers. None of those present understand what is happening. The men, therefore, pretend to be surprised while the ladies pretend to be shocked, but beneath it all grows an anger and humiliation for what they have let themselves be dragged into. The ladies tell them that they knew all along they were posing as Albanians, but what has happened cannot be undone. Ferrando and Fiordiligi are truly in love with each other, but they are prevented in continuing their relationship out of respect for their ex-partners. Instead of two loving couples, there are suddenly four lonely people. It simply doesn’t pay to play games…