The two officers Ferrando and Guglielmo make a bet with Don Alfonso to test the love of their fiancées Fiordiligi and Dorabella. Will the sisters stay faithful?
Two young officers, Guglielmo and Ferrando, are deeply in love with their fiancées, Fiordiligi and Dorabella. They are confident that their girlfriends will always be faithful. The old bachelor Don Alfonso maintains that all women are fickle and that he can prove it. Together they make a bet and the officers promise to follow Alfonso’s instructions.
Guglielmo and Ferrando pretend that they are going to war, and their fiancées are very unhappy. Soon they return, disguised as Albanians, trying to woo each other’s fiancée. Fiordiligi and Dorabella are not impressed with their advances but soon they start to become more susceptible. They finally give in and fall in love with the “wrong” Albanian. They even decide to get married. Just as they have signed the contract, military music is heard. The Albanians disappear and Guglielmo and Ferrando return.
There is some confusion but in the end everything is forgiven and everybody is happy. Don Alfonso wins the bet and declares that women are no better than men. They are all fickle.
"So do they all"
Opera in 2 acts
Sung in Italian
About 3 hours + interval
Naples in the 18th century
Two officers, Ferrando and Guglielmo, are sitting with their friend, the old bachelor Don Alfonso, and both are confident that their fiancées, Dorabella and Fiordiligi, will always be faithful. Alfonso is sceptical and maintains that women can never be trusted. He makes a bet with them that he will be able to prove, within a day, that also these women are unreliable.
The two officers accept the bet and agree to Don Alfonso’s two conditions: they are not allowed to tell the ladies about the bet and they have to follow Alfonso’s instructions. The officers and Alfonso are equally convinced that they will be the winners of the bet. They all leave the café in high spirits.
A garden near the seashore
The sisters Fiordiligi and Dorabella are waiting for Guglielmo and Ferrando. They are madly in love with their lovers and believe in eternal love. But why are they late?
Don Alfonso enters, looking very sad, and the ladies fear that something has happened to their lovers. Eventually Alfonso tells them that the two young men are alive and well, but they have been drafted to join the army and they are to sail off immediately. They were too sad to break the news themselves but now they are waiting outside to say farewell.
They enter the garden and there is a tearful scene, before a distant drumroll announces that it is time for departure. A boat is approaching and there is military music. The two ladies and Don Alfonso wave farewell, and the officers board the boat which sails out of sight. The sisters go into the house.
The living-room in the house of Fiordiligi and Dorabella
Inside the house the servant Despina has prepared lunch for the sisters, but they are so heartbroken that they throw the luncheon tray on the floor and rip off their jewellery.
Despina asks them what has happened. She tries to calm them down, saying that they will return decorated or if they don’t, there are other men around. While they are waiting they should amuse themselves with other men. The boys are surely doing that. All soldiers are faithless. The ladies are shocked and Despina leaves them mumbling ‘They will have to learn.’ Don Alfonso arrives and informs Despina of the bet and the plan, and she is willing to assist him.
Don Alfonso’s plan is that Ferrando and Guglielmo will disguise themselves as foreigners in an attempt to woo each other’s girlfriend. They arrive, bearded and in hilarious costumes, dressed as Albanians. Despina laughs at them and the sisters enter, wondering who the two strangers are.
The Albanians explain that they have come for love. Alfonso steps in and "recognises" his dear old friends who have come across the sea. They continue to try to woo the sisters but Fiordiligi tells them to leave the house. Alfonso tries to persuade the ladies to be a little friendly, but they walk out of the room – and the officers are overjoyed: the girls have stood the test! But Alfonso asks them to continue the courting. They will get new instructions in the garden. The “Albanians” leave the room.
The sisters come into the garden for some refreshing air. Cries are heard and the Albanian rush in with bottles of poison in their hands. They drink from the bottles and accuse the sisters of their imminent death, since they have been so cold-hearted. The Albanians fall to the ground, writhing in pain. The sisters call for Despina who tells them that the Albanians have fallen into a coma and goes to fetch a doctor. She instructs the sisters to take care of the patients, and they comply.
A doctor arrives (Despina in disguise) speaking in a fake Latin accent. She uses a healing magnet, which she moves over the limp bodies. They slowly come to life and believe that they are in paradise. The sisters are holding their heads and the "Albanians" are hoping to be kissed but all in vain. A sextet rounds off the act.
The living-room of Fiordiligi and Dorabella
Fiordiligi and Dorabella are still not happy about the situation. Despina encourages them to be friendly with the Albanians. They are unwilling, but consent to socialise a little bit: Dorabella with the brunette (Guglielmo) and Fiordiligi with the blonde (Ferrando). Alfonso arrives to bring them to the festivities in the garden.
A garden near the seashore
An orchestra is playing and the two Albanians are singing to the sisters. Despina and Don Alfonso try to teach the girls how to carry out a friendly conversation. After some time Fiordiligi suggests a promenade along the shore with Ferrando. When Dorabella and Guglielmo are left alone, he explains to her that he is so full of love. Dorabella seems unaffected by his words of love but she finally gives in and they exchange love-tokens.
Fiordiligi returns alone, having run away from Ferrando’s insistent declaration of love. But deep inside an interest growing for the Albanian suitor. Ferrando, however, feels he has to report to Guglielmo that his beloved is still rock-steadily faithful.
When they find each other, Guglielmo is happy to hear that Fiordiligi has stayed faithful. Reluctantly he tells Ferrando that he and Dorabella have exchanged love-tokens. Ferrando is furious but is still in love with Dorabella, in spite of her deceit.
They run into Alfonso and relate what has happened. Alfonso congratulates Guglielmo, who asks for half of the sum of the bet. Alfonso agrees but wants another chance the next day.
A room with several doors
Despina congratulates Dorabella that she followed her heart’s desire, and they both encourage Fiordiligi to do the same. She is still resistant and wants to go to the battlefield to find her Guglielmo. Now Ferrando appears and makes a last attempt to woo Fiordiligi – and this time he is successful.
Now Guglielmo’s is furious and the two officers turn to Alfonso for advice. How do we punish these unfaithful women? Marry them! says Alfonso. And Despina, who has been instrumental in this love affair, reports that she has already booked a notary for the wedding ceremony.
A room with a table laid for four people
Despina is busy making the last preparations for the wedding festivities and the two couples arrive. Fiordiligi, Dorabella and Ferrando sing a jolly song, while Guglielmo is depressed over the loss of the bet and wonders which of the girls he loves the most. Don Alfonso introduces the notary (Despina of course) and the two sisters sign the contracts. Then the military march, heard at the beginning of the opera, is heard again and the sisters become pale.
Alfonso puts the notary in one room and the Albanians in another. Within a few moments Ferrando and Guglielmo appear in their uniforms: the war activities had been called off. It soon becomes apparent who had been responsible for this trickery and Don Alfonso, as the mastermind, explains that he only wanted to show them that women are no better than men. There is reconciliation and everybody is happy, or so it seems.
Fiordiligi - Soprano (dramatic coloratura)
Lady from Ferrara and sister to Dorabella, living in Naples
Dorabella - Mezzo-soprano (lyric)
Lady from Ferrara and sister to Fiordiligi, living in Naples
Guglielmo - Baritone (lyric)
Lover of Fiordiligi, a Soldier
Ferrando - Tenor (leggiero)
Lover of Dorabella, a Soldier
Despina - Soprano (soubrette)
Don Alfonso - bass (lyric, buffo)
An old philosopher
Place of birth: Salzburg, Austria
Place of death: Vienna, Austria
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was an Austrian composer widely known as one of the greatest composers of all time. He is the the archetype of the classical period together with his contemporaries Haydn and Beethoven. He was a versatile composer writing operas, symphonies, chamber music, piano works, concertos and much more. In his short life he wrote more than 600 works.
Mozart began playing the harpsichord at the age of three and started composing at the age of five. During his childhood he went on tour with his sister, who was also a child prodigy, and his father, Leopold, performing in Europe.
He married into the Weber family. Together with his wife Constanze they had six children of whom two survived infancy.
In 1781 Mozart moved from Salzburg to Vienna. The last 10 years of his life were very productive. His most popular operas; Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, Così fan tutte and Die Zauberflöte were all written during this period. The three first are also known as the “Da Ponte” operas with reference to the librettist.
“What's even worse than a flute? - Two flutes!“
“The music is not in the notes, but in the silence between.“
Mozart had lots of pet animals and was very fond of scatological humour.
Most prominent operas
Bastien und Bastienne 1768
Lucio Silla 1772
La finta giardiniera 1774
Die Entführung aus dem Serail 1782
Der Schauspieldirektor 1786
Le nozze di Figaro 1786
Don Giovanni 1787
Così fan tutte 1789
Die Zauberflöte 1791
La clemenza di Tito 1791
Lorenzo Da Ponte was an Italian, later American, opera librettist, poet and Roman Catholic priest. He wrote the libretti for 28 operas by 11 composers, including three of Mozart's most celebrated operas, Don Giovanni, The Marriage of Figaro and Così fan tutte.
In 1773 Da Ponte moved to Venice, where he made a living as a teacher of Latin, Italian and French. Although he was a Catholic priest, the young man led a dissolute life. While priest of the church of San Luca, he took a mistress, with whom he had two children. At his 1779 trial, where he was charged with "public concubinage" and "abduction of a respectable woman", it was alleged that he had been living in a brothel and organizing the entertainments there. He was found guilty and banished for fifteen years from Venice.
In the United States, Da Ponte settled in New York City first, then Sunbury, Pennsylvania, where he briefly ran a grocery store and gave private Italian lessons while entertaining in some business activities in Philadelphia. He returned to New York to open a bookstore. He became friends with Clement Clarke Moore, and, through him, gained an unpaid appointment as the first professor of Italian literature at Columbia College. He was the first Roman Catholic priest to be appointed to the faculty, and he was also the first to have been raised a Jew.
In New York he introduced opera and produced in 1825 the first full performance of Don Giovanni in the United States, in which Maria García (soon to marry Malibran) sang Zerlina. He also introduced Gioachino Rossini's music in the U.S., through a concert tour with his niece Giulia Da Ponte.
Lorenzo Da Ponte died in 1838 in New York; an enormous funeral ceremony was held in New York's old St. Patrick's Cathedral on Mulberry Street.
2, 2, 2, 2 - 2, 2, 0, 0
timp, strings, basso continuo
Così fan tutte was first performed at the Burgtheater in Vienna in 1790.
Today it is one of the top 20 most performed operas worldwide.
Duet - Ah, guarda sorella (Fiordiligi, Dorabella)
Trio – Soave sia il vento (Don Alfonso, Fiordiligi, Dorabella)
Aria – Ah, scostati... Smanie implacabili (Dorabella)
Aria – In uomini, in soldati (Despina)
Aria – Come scoglio (Fiordiligi)
Aria - Un aura amorosa (Ferrando)
Aria/duet - Una donna a quindici anni... Prendero quel brunettino (Despina)
Duet – Il core vi dono (Guglielmo, Dorabella)
Aria – Ei parte... Per pieta (Fiordiligi)
Aria – Donne mie la fate a tanti (Guglielmo)
Aria – È amore un ladroncello (Dorabella)
Duet – Fra gli amplessi (Ferrando, Fiordiligi)