Così fan tutte synopsis
Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte
First performed: 1789
Don Alfonso suggests to his friends Ferrando and Guglielmo that the two sisters to whom they are engaged, like all women, are not to be trusted. The young men defend the honour of their fiancées and accept the challenge proposed by Don Alfonso, who wagers that, with their co-operation, he can prove his point within twenty-four hours.
Don Alfonso's plan is put into action and the sisters, Fiordiligi and Dorabella, are led to believe that their lovers are being called away on active service. They are inconsolable and their maid, Despina, unsuccessfully encourages them to enjoy their freedom. Don Alfonso bribes Despina to help him introduce the sisters to two infatuated young friends of his, and to do her best to persuade Fiordiligi and Dorabella to console themselves with a mild flirtation.
The sisters refuse to listen to any declarations of love and order the strangers from the house. The young men pretend to take poison to gain the sisters' sympathy, and Despina, disguised as a doctor, revives them. The sisters try to help and show signs of relenting, but the men renew their ardent attack by demanding a kiss and their advances are repulsed.
Despina chastises Fiordiligi and Dorabella for not knowing how to deal with men. The sisters come to the conclusion that perhaps Despina is right, and that there can be no harm in amusing themselves with the strangers. The women choose which man they want.
Dorabella responds quickly to the disguised Guglielmo's advances, accepting his gift and relinquishing her locket with Ferrando's portrait. Fiordiligi, however, refuses to yield to Ferrando, although she admits to herself that her heart has been won. She condemns Dorabella for her betrayal and resolves to leave the house and join her fiancé at the front. Ferrando declares his love for Fiordiligi with renewed passion, while Guglielmo watches helplessly as she finally accepts. Guglielmo and Ferrando are distraught and angered by the clear evidence of their fiancées' infidelity, but Don Alfonso encourages them to forgive the women and marry them. Their behaviour is only human nature: all can be faithless. However, news arrives that the sisters are now disposed to marry their new suitors...
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