synopsis Così fan tutte


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Dramma giocoso in due atti, KV 588
Libretto van Lorenzo da Ponte
Wereldpremière 26 januari 1790, National-Hoftheater, Wenen


First Act
Don Alfonso challenges the young men Guglielmo and Ferrando to a bet on the fidelity of their lovers, the sisters Fiordiligi and Dorabella. Alfonso devises a trick, and Guglielmo and Ferrando pretend to have been drafted for war. An emotional leave-taking ensues. Shortly afterwards, the two return in disguise and try to seduce the women. Despina, their maid, is also in on the game. Initially, the attempts at seduction come up against a wall of refusal. When the men pretend to ingest poison in an attempt to put an end to their suffering, they strike a sensitive chord with the young women. Dressed as a doctor, Despina pretends to save them from the brink of death.

Second Act
Despina encourages the sisters to respond to the advances of the two strangers. Ferrando has a private meeting with Fiordiligi and Guglielmo with Dorabella, and the two attempt to seduce each other’s lovers. Dorabella gives in quickly, Fiordiligi appears to be more hesitant. In despair, she threatens to join her real lover on the battlefield, but in the end she succumbs to Ferrando’s charms. Don Alfonso has won the bet. Over the moon, the women are willing to marry their new lovers immediately. A hastily summoned 'notary' - played by Despina in disguise - brings a marriage contract that is quickly signed. Then, the sudden return of the two officers is announced; the strangers quickly disappear and reappear in their original guise, as Guglielmo and Ferrando. On seeing the marriage contract, Fiordiligi and Dorabella feel embarrassed. At the same time, the men realise that their experiment was not without risks. Perhaps they can still reconcile?