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 Cosi disappeared from the repertoire of respectable opera houses.