An introduction to Così fan tutte

Mozart’s Così fan tutte, written at the height of his musical prowess, remains a testament to the wit and skill of one of the world’s finest composers. If you like to have a laugh at the theatre, we think you’ll love Così fan tutte.

Read up on Così fan tutte before our 2021/22 Season production:

Take a trip to Coney Island

Last performed in 2014, Phelim McDermott’s production of Così moves the tangled web of relationships from 18th century Naples to 1950s Coney Island, New York. During this period, Coney Island was the largest amusement park in America, attracting millions of thrill seekers as a tourist destination, and became the technicolour ideal of the ‘funfair’ we think of today. Keep an eye out for staples like the Tunnel of Love and a Merry-Go-Round, set against the backdrop of a picturesque sunset behind the classic Coney Island rollercoaster.

All the fun of the fair

As part of McDermott’s production, Così recreates the fantasised ideal of the American fairground, where rules aren’t always as strict as they would be in mundane everyday life – strongmen walk high rope walkers near trapeze artists, and nothing is as it should be. To help us bring that to the stage, Così will feature the Improbable skills ensemble to bring these ‘improbable’ acts to life. Keep your eyes peeled for incredible feats through the performance…

Who’s who and who’s wooed

Following the theme of fiancée swapping, a longstanding plot device used famously by Shakespeare in The Taming of the Shrew, Così follows a pair of couples (Ferrando and Dorabella, & Guglielmo and Fiordiligi). The men accept a wager from Don Alfonso that their fiancées will be faithful to them, and orchestrate a plot to test that hypothesis: they will be ‘called away to war’, but will in reality disguise themselves and attempt to woo each other’s bride-to-be. What follows is a typically farcical opera buffa plot reminiscent of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, as problem after problem presents itself, each more contrived than the last.

Written at the height of his talents and premiered just a year before his premature death, Mozart’s Così fan tutte manages to balance the whimsical comedy of the plot with tinges of melancholy, belying the true heartbreak that pervades the events. The focus of Mozart’s hand is evident in his writing in Così: the dynamics and interactions between characters are where much of the music in the opera takes place. For instance, the first interaction between Fiordiligi, Dorabella and their disguised fiancés (‘Meet the pretty Despinetta’) moves through distinct stylistic shifts and mood changes at quite a pace, as the men move quickly to implicate their new personas into their partners lives.

Book for Così fan tutte at English National Opera, 10 – 22 March 2022.

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