A Guide to Così fan tutte

9 February 2024

Mozart’s comic opera, Così fan tutte, was written at the height of his musical prowess and remains a testament to his wit and skill. However, it is sometimes seen as the composer’s most divisive work as it wasn’t popular with Mozart’s contemporaries who dismissed it as clumsy and, as such, the opera was largely ignored. Despite premiering in 1790, Così fan tutte didn’t become popular until the middle of the 20th century, and we are delighted to bring you a brand-new production, directed by Max Hoehn, as part of our Spring 2024 Season.   

Based around the theme of fiancée swapping, a longstanding plot device used famously by Shakespeare in The Taming of the Shrew, Così fan tutte is a typically farcical opera buffa, reminiscent of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, as problem after problem presents itself to our two young couples, each more contrived than the last. It’s one of three operas that Mozart composed to a libretto by Italian librettist Lorenzo da Ponte, the other two being The Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni. If you like your opera full of laughs, then we think you’re going to love Così fan tutte. Read on to find out more about Mozart’s coming-of-age tale.  

The opera’s full title is Così fan tutte, ossia La scuola degli amanti, but is more commonly shortened to Cosi fan tutte. It can loosely be translated as Women are all like that, or the school for lovers and Mozart plays cynicism for laughs with a satirical take on relationships between men and women.   

Così begins with our leading men, Ferrando and Guglielmo, discussing how they believe their fiancées, Dorabella and Fiordiligi respectively, will stay faithful to them. Don Alfonso overhears their conversation and dismisses their ideas. He claims that he can prove that their fiancées are fickle, just like all other women. Ferrando and Guglielmo accept Alfonso's wager and tell their fiancées that they have been called off to war. Unbeknown to Dorabella and Fiordiligi, the men return in disguise to try and seduce each other’s fiancées.   

Our production of this comic classic is set in a school, harking back to the full title The School for Lovers, with design inspiration taken from 1970’s textbooks. Welsh National Opera favourite, Rebecca Evans, takes on the role of Despina, the school dinner lady, who’s eager to give the girls advice on dealing with their heartbreak and get involved in the secret scheme.  

When Ferrando and Guglielmo return in disguise, they claim their hearts led them to Dorabella and Fiordiligi. The girls are horrified by the men’s confession and order them to leave, however, Ferrando and Guglielmo continue their plan to try and woo the women.  As the story progresses, the girls become tempted by the new men in their lives and Alfonso and Despina become more involved to prove that the girls will stray.  

Will Dorabella and Fiordiligi stay true to their loves? Will Ferrando and Guglielmo reveal their plan? To find out who stays true to whom, join us this Spring for Così fan tutte, as we tour across Wales and England between 24 February – 10 May.