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Don Alfonso goads two young men into
a wager regarding their fiancées’ fidelity.
Ferrando and Guglielmo are convinced
their lovers – Dorabella and Fiordiligi,
respectively – are true, and agree to test
the women’s faithfulness through trickery.
The men agree to do everything Don Alfonso
says to pull off their ruse.
Sisters Dorabella and Fiordiligi are met
by Don Alfonso. He tells them that their
fiancés have been recalled to military
duty. The two soldiers arrive to bid their
unhappy fiancées farewell. The sisters are
inconsolable. Once the men have departed,
their maid Despina suggests that Dorabella
and Fiordiligi amuse themselves in the
meantime by meeting other men. The
women refuse to be unfaithful to their lovers.
Don Alfonso speaks privately with
Despina, enlisting her aid in introducing
two prospective lotharios to the sisters. He
then presents to Despina two “Albanians,”
who are none other than Guglielmo and
Ferrando in disguise. When Fiordiligi and
Dorabella arrive, the men proclaim their
affection. The women demand that the
strangers leave their house.
Later that day, the Albanians burst into
the garden where the two sisters lament
the absence of their sweethearts. The men
drink what they claim is poison, expressing
their wish to die for love. A doctor arrives
(Despina in disguise) and “revives” the
Despina attempts to persuade Dorabella
and Fiordiligi that they should be more
receptive to the Albanians’ advances. The
sisters reluctantly agree that a flirtation
might prove a welcome distraction in the
absence of their fiancés. The men return
once more to serenade the sisters, and this
time Dorabella exchanges words of love
with Guglielmo – to his astonishment.
Ferrando has less luck with Fiordiligi.
Ferrando is told of his lover’s betrayal
and vows revenge. Don Alfonso reminds
the soldiers that the test is not over yet.
Dorabella confesses her new fondness
for her Albanian to Despina. Fiordiligi
admits that she also has feelings for her
Albanian (the disguised Ferrando), but
scolds her sister’s lack of control and vows
to remain true to her fiancé. But when
Ferrando returns, secretly accompanied
by Guglielmo and Don Alfonso, Fiordiligi
yields to his advances.
Ferrando and Guglielmo lament their
lovers’ betrayal and express a desire
for revenge. Don Alfonso urges the now
bitterly disillusioned soldiers to marry
Wedding preparations are quickly
made. Don Alfonso produces a notary –
Despina in disguise – who in turn produces
a marriage contract. A drum is heard,
signaling the return of the soldiers. Having
hastily removed their disguises, Ferrando
and Guglielmo appear and feign outrage
at the incriminating scene. But when they
put on their Albanian disguises, the whole
truth comes out.
In the final chorus all four lovers, in
the spirit of reconciliation, sing hopefully
of accepting life as it presents itself and
maintaining a sense of humour. But will they
be able to when faced with an uncertain
“Las Dos Fridas” painting by Frida Kahlo © 2011 Banco de México Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo Museums Trust. Av. Cinco de Mayo No. 2, Col. Centro, Del. Cuauhtémoc 06059, México, D. F.
Generously underwritten in part by
Cosi fan tutte is generously underwritten in part by Philip Deck and Kimberley Bozak