Discover Così fan tutte

In Mozart’s comic masterpiece, sisters Fiordiligi and Dorabella are enjoying a holiday in Coney Island with their fiancés, Ferrando and Guglielmo. However, the fairground is a place where anything can happen – and its manipulative master, Don Alfonso, has a game to play with the lovers…


Act I

Ferrando and Guglielmo are on holiday with their fiancées, sisters Dorabella and Fiordiligi, at the Skyline Motel near the Pleasure Garden. Late Friday night in a nightclub, their new friend Don Alfonso makes a bet with Ferrando and Guglielmo that the two sisters, like all women, are not to be trusted. The boys defend their fiancées and accept the challenge. Don Alfonso, with the boys’ co-operation, reckons he can prove his point over the course of the weekend.

On Saturday morning, the Don finds Fiordiligi and Dorabella strolling on the boardwalk, and tells them that their lovers are being called away to war. After saying goodbye and waving the boys off, the girls are inconsolable.

The next morning Despina, a maid in the motel, tries to encourage the girls to enjoy their freedom. Don Alfonso bribes Despina to help him introduce the sisters to two ‘infatuated young friends’ of his, who are in fact Guglielmo and Ferrando in disguise. The sisters are outraged, and refuse to listen to any declarations of love from the disguised boys.

Don Alfonso has another plan. The young men pretend to take poison in order to gain the sisters’ sympathy and Despina, disguised as ‘Doctor Magnetico’, revives them with her famous vibration machine. The sisters help Despina to revive the boys, who renew their flirtatious attack by demanding a kiss. Their advances are again refused.

Interval of 20 minutes

Act II

Despina chastises Fiordiligi and Dorabella for not knowing how to deal with men.
The sisters decide that perhaps Despina is right – there can be no harm in amusing themselves with the handsome strangers. They choose which man they’d like.

Don Alfonso brings the girls into the Pleasure Garden to meet the boys again. In the fairground, Dorabella responds quickly to the disguised Guglielmo’s advances. She accepts a gift and relinquishes 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 Pleasure Garden and join Guglielmo, her fiancé, at the front.

Frequently asked questions about Così Fan Tutte

An ENO performance on Così Fan Tutte will last approximately 3 hours and 15 minutes, including one interval. 

The Italian phrase ‘Così Fan Tutte’ has several different translations and meanings, however it loosely translates to ‘so do they all’. The plural ‘tutte’ is feminine, indicating that women are being referred to. So, we’d suggest that ‘Così Fan Tutte’ more closely means ‘Women Are Like That’ in English. 

Così Fan Tutte is a comedic opera with themes of love and relationships, set in 18th century Naples. The storyline is centred around two officers, Ferrando and Guglielmo, who have long bragged about their own solid relationships with their fiancées. Their older and more cynical friend, Don Alfonso, wants to challenge what they believe and sets up a plan to prove them wrong. The fiancées, Dorabella and Fiordiligi, are deceived by Don Alfonso, and a disguised Ferrando and Guglielmo. Through a combination of mistaken identities and romantic entanglements, Cosi Fan Tutte questions human emotions and exposes how vulnerable love can be. 

The opera was composed throughout 1789 and early 1790. Così Fan Tutte then had its premiere performance in Vienna on January 26, 1790. 

Così Fan Tutte was written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, an Austrian composer renowned for his beautiful, innovative and emotional music. 

The libretto for Così Fan Tutte was written by Lorenzo Da Ponte, a Venetian librettist who had collaborated with Mozart on several of his other operas (nicknamed ‘Da Ponte operas’ or ‘Mozart-Da Ponte trilogy): The Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni. 

Read the introductory guide to Così fan tutte