Così fan tutte
Thinking himself worldly and experienced, Don Alfonso decides to relieve his young friends, Ferrando and Gugliemo, of their faith in romantic love. He challenges them to a bet, promising that within 24 hours their fiancées will prove unfaithful. They accept, but find the challenge too painfully revealing and difficult to withstand. Dressed in clown’s clothes, these young men break their own hearts and the hearts of their fiancées. A comedy that is a tragedy underneath is the perfect stuff for the uncanny genius of Mozart, so clearly revealed in this dazzling score. Sung in Italian with English supertitles. Run-time approximately 2.5 hours.
|Role||9/9, 9/10, 9/14, 9/17, 9/22, 9/24|
|Dorabella||Cassandra Zoé Velasco|
|Don Alfonso||Malcolm Mackenzie/Trevor Neal|
*Casting subject to change without notice
Scene 1: Outside a military barracks
Two young soldiers, Ferrando and Guglielmo, are discussing women with their friend Don Alfonso. The soldiers insist that their girlfriends, sisters Dorabella and Fiordiligi, are beyond temptation and would never stray from virtue. Alfonso, a cynic, remarks that women are not so angelic and suggests a little wager: if Ferrando and Guglielmo do as he directs for 24 hours, he will prove his point. With great confidence in their sweethearts’ devotion, the young men accept the challenge.
The sisters revel in their love for Ferrando and Guglielmo. Alfonso arrives with the sad news that their lovers have been recalled to their regiment and are being sent to the frontline of the battlefield. The young men appear, and the lovers engage in elaborate farewells. Alone, Alfonso delivers one last jeer at women’s fidelity.
Scene 3: The girls’ sitting room
Despina, the maid, offers the sisters their morning chocolate and some advice about forgetting old lovers by taking new ones. Inconsolable, her mistresses are affronted by her capricious philosophy and leave the room. After they have gone, Alfonso arrives to enlist Despina in his deception. He bribes her to help introduce two “foreign friends” of his to the ladies. The foreigners arrive and enthusiastically declare great admiration for Fiordiligi and Dorabella, but the girls are outraged at the intrusion. They do not recognize their lovers in disguise. In a tirade, Fiordiligi likens her fidelity to an immovable rock. The sisters leave the room. The young men are delighted that Alfonso’s plot doesn’t seem to be working, but he warns them that the bet isn’t won yet. Alone, Ferrando blissfully reiterates his passion for Dorabella.
Scene 4: The garden
The sisters are once again lamenting the absence of their lovers. Suddenly, the two foreigners stagger in, pretending to have taken poison. Alfonso and Despina run for a doctor. While solicitously attending to the young men, the girls begin to waiver. Despina returns disguised as a doctor. Using Mesmer’s popular new invention, the magnet, the “doctor” draws out the poison. The young men revive and begin to woo the girls even more ardently, but the sisters refuse to grant them a kiss.
Scene 1: The girls’ sitting room
Despina urges her mistresses to relent and give in to their foreign suitors. After she leaves, the girls debate whether a flirtation might be fun while their lovers are away. Dorabella thinks it would, and reluctantly, Fiordiligi agrees. They decide who will pair off with whom. Fiordiligi chooses the disguised Ferrando, and Dorabella picks the disguised Guglielmo.
Scene 2: The garden
The young foreigners have arranged an entertainment. Still playing their roles in the wager, Guglielmo pairs off with Dorabella while Ferrando continues to woo Fiordiligi, though she seems to have no interest in pursuing the courtship. Secretly to herself, however, Fiordilgi admits that Ferrando has touched her heart, and she hopes her absent lover will forgive her faithless thoughts. When the men compare notes, Guglielmo is glad that Fiordiligi seems to stand fast. Ferrando, however, is dismayed that Dorabella has yielded. His anger amuses Guglielmo, who comments on the waywardness of the fairer sex.
Scene 3: Fiordiligi’s antechamber
Alone, the troubled Fiordiligi decides she will not act upon her new feelings. She decides to assume a disguise of her own and, as a soldier, join her original lover (Guglielmo) on the battlefield. Ferrando is determined to avenge himself on Guglielmo and Dorabella. Still playing his role, he responds to Fiordiligi’s continued refusals by threatening suicide. Her good intentions vanish, and she capitulates. When Guglielmo hears of this he is furious, but Alfonso counsels forgiveness, saying “Così fan tutte” (“That’s the way they all behave”) and urging the men to marry their original girlfriends.
Scene 4: A banquet room
A double wedding has been planned for the sisters and their foreign lovers. The servants salute the apparently happy couples, and Alfonso brings in a notary (Despina in yet another disguise). As the ladies sign the marriage contracts, Alfonso is drawn to the window by the sound of familiar military music outside. He exclaims that the former boyfriends are returning from battle with their regiment. In panic, the sisters push their intended husbands out of the room. Ferrando and Guglielmo reappear in their uniforms for a seeming reunion with their girlfriends, but they angrily confront the women when the marriage contracts are “discovered.” Finally, they reveal their ruse to the women. The girls, humiliated, blame Don Alfonso for all these upsetting events. But Alfonso hails the triumph of reason over unrealistic expectations, and urges the lovers to forgive and forget.
Introduction to Opera
At 6:30 before evening performances and at 1:30 before matinees, a free talk will be presented in the California Theatre that will acquaint you with the composer’s life, his place in the history of opera, the story and its characters. If you are attending the 1:30 or 6:30 Introduction, you must be ticketed for that day’s performance; and your ticket must be torn as you enter the building.
MLK Library Previews
A one-hour preview for each 2017-18 production is presented free of charge in the Beethoven Center, located on the 5th Floor of the Dr. MLK Library in San Jose (located at the corner of Fourth and San Fernando Streets). Moderated by GD Larry Hancock, the preview includes a lecture and performances by OSJ artists. Dates for previews are as follows:
- Così fan tutte: August 29, 2017
- La rondine: October 31, 2017
- The Flying Dutchman: January 30, 2018
- La traviata: April 3, 2018
All previews begin at 12 noon.
Opera at Your Doorstep Lecture Series
Increase your understanding of opera and enjoy upcoming Opera San José performances all the more by attending one of longtime OSJ subscriber Bradford Wade’s FREE previews. Dates for Così fan tutte lecture talks will be announced in August 2017. For more information about the Opera at Your Doorstep Lecture Series and/or to RSVP, email OperaAtYourDoorstep@gmail.com.
Performances of Così fan tutte are made possible, in part, by a grant from the City of San Jose’s Office of Cultural Affairs.