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“Così fan tutte” / Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

June 13 @ 19:00 - 21:30
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33rd Mozart Festival in Warsaw

Theatre of the Warszawska Opera Kameralna

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Così fan tutte

ossia La scuola degli amanti KV 588

All Women Do It, or The School for Lovers

Opera buffa in two acts, original Italian version

Libretto: Lorenzo da Ponte

Staging and director: Marek Weiss
Set design and costumes: Hanna Szymczak


Fiordiligi – Magdalena Stefaniak
Dorabella – Aleksandra Opała
Despina – Sylwia Krzysiek
Ferrando – Aleksander Kunach
Guglielmo – Hubert Zapiór
Don Alfonso – Artur Janda

Vocal Ensemble of the Warszawska Opera Kameralna

Chorus Master – prof. Krzysztof Kusiel-Moroz

Pianoforte – Marta Kostrych

Period Instrument Orchestra of the Warszawska Opera Kameralna
Musicae Antiquae Collegium Varsoviense

Conductor: Adam Banaszak

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Cosi fan tutte, fot. Jarosław Budzyński
Cosi fan tutte2, fot. Jarosław Budzyński
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It begins with an argument. Two men try to convince an old friend that their women are as faithful as they are beautiful. That they have never betrayed them and never will. They even want to fight in defense of their virtue. A bet is reached; the friends accept the terms, bid farewell to their lovers, and under disguise appear at their homes. A perverse game begins, as each man tries to win the affections of the other’s fiancée (who happen to be sisters). Initially, the flirtations fail, but eventually, new passions triumph. We witness the weddings of the new couples. The newlyweds return, but now without disguise, and find evidence of “infidelity” in the form of marriage contracts. The consternation, however, lasts only briefly; after all, everything was a game and masquerade. The women apologize, the men mock. Even forgiveness comes, but afterwards, no one wonders who betrayed and who was betrayed.

It is not entirely known what was the source of this story, adapted by Lorenzo da Ponte and the divine Mozart into an opera. Its origins can be found, among others, in Ovid’s “Metamorphoses”, Boccaccio’s “Decameron”, Ariosto’s “Orlando Furioso”; in Shakespeare, Tirso de Molina, or Marivaux; in Gretry’s opera “Cephale et Procris” (1773) and Salieri’s “La Grotta di Trofonio” (1785); in Laclos’s “Dangerous Liaisons”…

In “La Dispute” by Marivaux, an old aristocrat, wanting to find out who is more unfaithful – women or men – proposes an experiment to a group of four young friends. In Ariosto’s, we can find such names as Fiordiligi, Doralice, Fiordespina, Guglielmo, Don Alfonso; one of the books also describes the story of two friends who, upon discovering their wives’ infidelity, set out to seek revenge, only to learn during their journey that other women are no better.

Anecdotal, perhaps, is the story that it was Emperor Joseph II who told the composer a story strikingly similar to the libretto’s plot, which supposedly happened at that time in Vienna. We know that the emperor had a huge influence on the theatrical life of the time (he even decided on the dates and length of rehearsals), and “Così fan tutte” was created at his request and commission. Moreover, it was the death of Joseph II that interrupted the series of premiere performances.

This was the third and final opera jointly created by Da Ponte and Mozart. The first was “Le nozze di Figaro” (Vienna, May 1786), followed by the great “Don Giovanni” (Prague, October 1787 and Vienna, May 1788), and finally, on 26 January 1790, “Così fan tutte” was performed for the first time at the Burgtheater in Vienna.

These operas complement each other. There are so many common places here! Mladen Dolar points out that Don Giovanni is who the Count wished to be but was too afraid; the third in this sequence is undoubtedly Don Alfonso… Kierkegaard writes about the similarity between Don Giovanni and Cherubino. We also know that Mozart quoted the instrumental score of Figaro’s cavatina “Non più andrai” in the finale of “Don Giovanni”. Finally, in the first act of The Marriage of Figaro, we find Don Basilio’s line: “Così fan tutte le belle! Non c’è alcuna novità”.

According to the monographer Stefan Jarociński, compared to other operas, everything in “Così fan tutte” is simplified, restrained, almost austere. But this impoverishment is only apparent, resulting from condensation and precision. He writes further: “It is unclear what is more impressive: the ruthless objectivism with which Mozart portrays the fate of six human puppets, giving the entire farce a tragicomic flavour, or the aura amorosa that pervades the work, tinting its note of irony with a poetic colour”.


“The work is considered a comedy with an incredible plot, in which two young men dress up as exotic admirers and seduce their unaware fiancés. The goal is to test their fidelity and win a bet with a love affair veteran claiming that there are no faithful women and all end up cheating on their partners. For some fans of Mozart, however, this is the most complex and bitter masterpiece in which divine music covers in a beautiful form the terrible truth about human helplessness in the face of the contradiction between the temptation of sex and the idea of love. I share this point of view and in my production I show how deeply Mozart with Da Ponte reach in their critique of the hypocrisy and meanness that the women are perpetrated by the male world.

The perfidy of their idea does not lie in dressing up, but in changing partners at the same time. It means that each gentleman deliberately and with impunity seduces his friend’s fiancée. I assumed there was no chance they wouldn’t be recognized. So the whole game is played consciously. Initially, women resist having fun. One resists shorter and the other longer, in line with their sexual temperament. The game leads both sisters to believe that the switch is in line with their true inclinations. So the initial determination of “who with whom” turned out to be wrong. Now it has become clear who should spend their lives with whom. But suddenly the game is over and the men want to go back to the official version.

They hold a grudge against the women, although they are the ones who initiated the game and participated in it with no qualms. In my opinion, they are mean and their title statement that “all women do it” is presumptuous. In order to get this sense out of the fun convention, we made some interpretations in our staging. I believe that they do not violate the intentions of the opera’s creators, but bring them closer to viewers brought up in a different morality and familiar with many bitter truths about human inclinations, which in the Mozart era could not be the subject of public consideration. My performance is against libertines and lotharios, who dress their corruption and contempt for women in philosophical theses and wisdoms that are supposed to testify the experience, and in fact are the result of increasing impotence and a sense of rejection. They are the ones who spoil young people longing for pure love.

They are the ones who manipulate values in the world of art and reflection on human being, taking away our hope for a positive dimension of human feelings. They are the ones who make sex a false religion and the ultimate truth that cannot be appealed. They argue that having fun is the highest good in life, and the seriousness of love is ridiculous and pathetic […] – scoundrels proclaiming their pathetic truth about women, whom they treat as objects deprived of individuality and dignity. Unfortunately, sometimes I feel like one of them. So this performance is also my repentance and a form of apology for my lowdown thoughts and deeds. Someone might say that the opera house is not a place for personal settlements. But opera is a theatre, and this is already a place where personal confessions are the foundation.”

Marek Weiss

Teatr WOK
Address: al. Solidarności 76 b
Warszawa, 00-145

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