Così fan tutte Synopsis
Mozart’s Così fan tutte
The scene is the Bay of Naples in the late 18th century. Two handsome young officers, Gugliemo and Ferrando, brag about the fidelity and beauty of their fiancées, Fiordiligi and Dorabella. Their caustic older friend, Don Alonso, ridicules the idea that women can be faithful and proposes a wager to prove his assertions. The officers must do as he demands during the course of one day, and he will prove the sisters to be untrustworthy—like all women. As the sisters are comparing pictures of their betrothed, the men arrive with the news that they are off to war. Don Alonso’s plan has been set into motion.
The sisters’ maid, Despina, who is an unwitting ally of Don Alonso, encourages the girls to be of better cheer and to seek new lovers, since all men lack constancy. Disguised as mustachioed Albanians, Gugliemo and Ferrando enter and court each other’s girlfriend. Even though tempted, the sisters initially resist the Albanians’ overtures. The officers rejoice in the loyalty of their fiancées, but Don Alonso reminds them that the bet is still on and the day is not yet over.
The Albanians return to the garden, moaning that, lovesick, they have taken poison. Despina, who has been sent for help, returns disguised as a doctor and endeavors to heal the young men by waving a magnet over them. The Albanians insist upon kisses to aid in their cure, which the sisters, although beginning to relent, refuse despite encouragement from Despina and Don Alonso.
The maid Despina exhorts her mistresses to pick their favorite Albanian, for all agree a little flirting is harmless. Dorabella selects her sister’s suitor, Gugliemo, and they exchange gifts. Fiordiligi is less enamored with Ferrando, but he begins to win her over, despite her feelings of guilt for betraying Gugliemo. Ferrando is dismayed that Dorabella has been charmed so easily, and Gugiemo cannot help but be self-satisfied. All is progressing according to Don Alonso’s plan.
Both young officers are distressed that their fiancées are so fickle and acknowledge that Don Alonso has won the bet. The older man now proceeds to plan a double wedding. Despina is disguised as a notary and the marriage contracts are signed. In the background regimental music is heard and the panicked sisters attempt to hide their Albanian bridegrooms– who quickly return wearing their officers’ uniforms.
Don Alonso discloses the marriage contracts to the officers, who are enraged at the perfidy of their sweethearts. The officers withdraw and return partially wearing their Albanian costumes. Despina has been revealed to be the notary, and the chastened sisters are filled with remorse and ask forgiveness. The wager is disclosed and Don Alonso urges pardon from all. The young people agree as they pair off that reason should prevail and this is just a part of life’s ups and downs.