Così fan tutte
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Don Alfonso causes Ferrando and Guglielmo to doubt the faithfulness of the women they love. He suggests a wager to them: on the condition that they do everything he demands of them, he will prove that the women are not nearly as faithful as they believe. The high-spirited young men accept the wager. The two sisters Fiordiligi and Dorabella gush about their lovers. Don Alfonso begins the game by announcing that Guglielmo and Ferrando have to leave unexpectedly. Ferrando bids farewell to Dorabella, Guglielmo to Fiordiligi. The women despair about the sudden parting and protest against Despina’s worldly-wise view that the men’s absence may open the way for unimagined adventures. Don Alfonso secures Despina’s help for his undertaking. Ferrando and Guglielmo return as “strangers” to seduce the sisters at Don Alfonso’s behest.The women vehemently reject the intruders. The men believe they have already won the bet, but Don Alfonso admonishes them to keep doing as he says. Once again, Don Alfonso asks Despina for her support. She is willing to help the strangers succeed. Ferrando and Guglielmo pretend that they have taken poison because of their unrequited love. Both women are shocked by this fake suicide attempt. After Despina has revived the supposedly dying men, they renew their attempts to seduce the women. Again, they are rejected.
Despina lectures the sisters about inconstancy in love. Fiordiligi and Dorabella confess to harboring sympathy for the two strangers admit they are willing to meet them again. Dorabella chooses Guglielmo, Fiordiligi picks Ferrando. Don Alfonso brings both couples together. The men are irritated at the women’s new and self-confident choice of partner, but have no option but to play along. Guglielmo and Dorabella quickly become more intimate, while Fiordiligi resists Ferrando’s advances. Ferrando is beside himself when he learns that Dorabella has given in; Fiordiligi, on the other hand, is shaken by her own confused emotions and seeks consolation from her sister. She decides to run away in order to escape temptation. Ferrando stops her, and Fiordiligi gives up her resistance. Don Alfonso has won the wager. He tells his deeply shocked friends that inconstancy is a necessity of the heart: “così fan tutte”, all women act this way. Fiordiligi and Dorabella agree to marry the strangers. Despina takes over the preparations and appears dressed as a notary.When the women sign the marriage contract, the return of their original lovers is announced. Ferrando and Guglielmo shed their disguises, and both sisters and Despina realize they have been tricked.