Cosi Fan Tutte review: A deliciously compact opera
Two young men, Guglielmo and Ferrando, are engaged to two sisters, Fiordiligi and
Dorabella, and are furious when their old friend Don Alfonso casts doubt on their
fiancées' fidelity. Don Alfonso proposes a bet: the two men will do everything he asks
for 24 hours and he will prove that the women cannot be trusted.
Indeed, the opera's title means "All women do it" and Don Alfonso will prove it.
His plan involves an elaborate ruse: the men will pretend they have been called up by
the army and must go away to fight. After leaving, they return in disguise and proceed
to seduce the two girls, each, of course, succeeding with the other one's fiancée.
The Victorians, as one might expect, viewed the morality of all this to be unacceptable and
disappeared from the repertoire of respectable opera houses.