Opera Abbreviated: Cosi fan Tutte

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Isabel Leonard as Dorabella and Susanna Phillips as Fiordiligi in Mozart's "Così fan tutte."(Photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera)
Isabel Leonard as Dorabella and Susanna Phillips as Fiordiligi in Mozart's "Così fan tutte."(Photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera)

The Metropolitan Opera presents Mozart’s Cosi fan Tutte live in HD Saturday April 26 at 1 PM. James Levine conducts. For locations in our listening area and more information, go to The Met’s website

When an opera with is called Cosi fan Tutte, you pay attention.

Mozart wasn’t thinking of ice cream or Little Richard (Tutti-frutti). Instead he created an opera of great beauty and charm with an unsavory premise. Can a women remain faithful?  Cosi fan Tutte = That’s What Everyone Does.

Who is ‘everyone’ and what is it they do?  Most operas examine “the human condition.” Mozart did so with uncommon genius. With often simple means he was able to convey love, joy, sex and grief in music, and with Cosi fan Tutte he would need all of these.

What begins as a comedy takes us on a journey sometimes painful, but I think one leaving the characters and the audience better off at the end of the opera.

Cosi fan Tutte premiered in 1790. This was the third and last collaboration between Mozart and librettist Lorenzo da Ponte.

Why someone hasn’t written an opera or a TV mini-series about da Ponte defies logic. This guy makes The Real Housewives of New Jersey seem like amateurs. The opera didn’t take hold in the states until the 1920s. Later on it enraged tone-deaf feminists.

da Ponte’s lovely setting on the Bay of Naples circa 1750 was discarded in favor of a greasy spoon diner or 1967 in one crazy version. It is appropriate to underline the unkindness done to women by the man in this opera. Unkindness, even cruelty but not abuse. Generally the ending re unites the original couples. Generally. That’s open to some debate. To find out more, attend the Met’s HD presentation. Even this Opera Abbreviated isn’t giving away the ending.

Conductor James Levine was sidelined for several years due to a spinal condition. Now he’s back conducting from a wheelchair, and he’s at the helm for this production of Mozart’s bittersweet opera.

Cosi is a gem, an opera filled with light and humanity. Enjoy. Maybe learn something, but enjoy.

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