Così Fan Tutte
An Opera in Two Acts
Composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Libretto by Lorenzo DaPonte
Two young officers, Ferrando and Guglielmo, sing the praises of their sweethearts, Fiordiligi and Dorabella. The officers' older friend, Don Alfonso, claims that a faithful woman has never existed, and never will, and he offers to prove his theory if the young men will follow his orders for the next 24 hours. The officers agree to a wager that they see no prospect of losing, and cheerfully propose a toast to the God of Love.
That morning, as Fiordilig and Dorabella await their lovers, Don Alfonso arrives with bad news – the first link in his plot. The officers have been suddenly ordered off to war, he says, but they are permitted one last farewell before they go. To the young men's great delight, the ladies appear to be inconsolable.
Don Alfonso then enlists the aid of Despina, the sisters' maid, telling her that her mistresses need diversion in their loneliness. He presents the two officers, now fantastically disguised as noblemen from Albania. Despina pronounces them too grotesque to be taken seriously; the ladies are horrified at the invasion of their privacy, and Fiordiligi indignantly dismisses the "Albanians" from the house. When Ferrando and Guglilelmo jubilantly demand their money from Don Alfonso, he recommends patience; the 24 hours have not yet run their course.
As the ladies bewail their solitude, the two "Albanians" rush in, proclaiming that they are dying of unrequited love, and have taken poison to hasten the process. Don Alfonso suggests a doctor, and returns with Despina, who is disguised as a worker of miracles, able to cure all ailments with a magnet. The men suddenly recover, and proclaim their love. From the very vehemence of the ladies’ denials, it is evident that their resolve is beginning to weaken.
After listening to Despina's worldly advice, the ladies conclude that they can amuse themselves with the newcomers without absolute infidelity to their lovers. In a joyous duet, each sister selects the other's former sweetheart to concentrate her attentions upon. First Dorabella succumbs to Guglielmo's ardent wooing; with somewhat more resistance, Fiordiligi yields to Ferrando's impassioned pleas.
Don Alfonso explains to the outraged young men that their sweethearts are no better or worse than all women: men must accept the instability of women and love them anyway. As the ladies are about to marry their new suitors, Don Alfonso announces that the two officers have just returned from the battlefield. The “Albanians” hide, and a few minutes later, Ferrando and Guglielmo enter, clad in their officer's uniforms. Almost immediately they discover a false marriage contract, complete with signatures, as well as Despina, dressed, this time as a notary. Explanations follow, and Dorabella and Fiordiligi, in spite of their resentment of the joke that has been played upon them, have no choice but to forgive and forget. All join in a chorus praising the man who is guided by reason; he will accept good and ill fortune alike, with philosophic calm.