Cosi Fan Tutte

Approximate Running Time: Three hours 20 minutes, with 1 intermission

In Italian with English captions

What's Going On?

Set somewhere close to home

Two young men, Guglielmo and Ferrando, dispute their friend Don Alfonso’s favorite theory: fidelity in women is a romantic illusion. Alfonso challenges them to test the fidelity of their own fiancées, Dorabella and her sister Fiordiligi. The men accept the wager—and the condition that for twenty-four hours they will do exactly as Don Alfonso instructs.

Alfonso goes to the ladies and informs them that their fiancés are called to battle. The men arrive and a tearful farewell ensues, with everyone promising to remain true to their partner.

The mournful sisters are consoled by their maid Despina. “Forget your troubles and start a new romance,” says Despina. When Dorabella and Fiordiligi protest that their fiancées will remain true to them, Despina tells them that fidelity in men is just a fairy tale.

Don Alfonso informs Despina that two handsome and rich young men want to court the sisters. Despina agrees to help Don Alfonso introduce his new friends to Dorabella and Fiordiligi.

Guglielmo and Ferrando arrive in disguise and proceed to court each other’s fiancées. The sisters, despite the attraction, remain true to their vows, and the men get ready to gloat over winning their bet. But Don Alfonso reminds them that the twenty-four hours aren’t up yet.

Guglielmo and Ferrando pretend to take poison after their rejection by Dorabella and Fiordiligi. Despina, disguised as a doctor, tells the sisters that her cure will only work if the ladies kiss the gentlemen. And so the flirtations begin to take a serious turn.

With prodding from Don Alfonso and Despina, Dorabella and Fiordiligi agree to a serious courtship and, eventually, to wed the new men in their lives. But just as the wedding is about to begin, the impending arrival of Guglielmo and Ferrando is announced. Frightened, the sisters want to hide their new fiancés from their old fiancés. The gentlemen run off, only to return in their own clothes and accuse the women of infidelity.

Don Alfonso steps in, and all is resolved.

Or is it?

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Photo Credit

© Seattle Opera photo