Synposis: Cosí fan
“Women are Fickle”
2 hours and 45
minutes including 1, 20 minute intermission.
In eighteenth-century Naples, the elderly cynic Don
Alfonso discusses women with two young officers,
Ferrando and Guglielmo. The gallants insist their
sweethearts are paragons of virtue. They accept
Alfonso's bet that he can prove the ladies fickle if
they do as he says for twenty-four hours.
The sisters Fiordiligi and Dorabella revel in their
love for Guglielmo and Ferrando, respectively,
showing pictures they carry in their lockets.
Alfonso comes in with sad news: the young men have
been called to their regiment. They appear, and the
five make elaborate farewells As soldiers march by,
Ferrando and Guglielmo fall in, lamented in a trio.
Alfonso, alone, delivers one last jeer at women's
The maid, Despina, offers the sisters advice about
forgetting old lovers with the help of new ones, but
her mistresses resent her capricious approach to
love. Dorabella, in fact, is outraged. When they
leave, Alfonso comes to bribe Despina to introduce
two foreign friends of his to the ladies. The
sisters, returning, are scandalized to see the
strangers, whom they do not recognize as their
lovers, heavily disguised as Albanians. The
newcomers declare their admiration for the ladies,
but both repulse them, and Fiordiligi likens her
fidelity to a rock. The men are thrilled, but
Alfonso warns the bet isn't won yet. As Ferrando
blissfully reiterates his passion for Dorabella,
Despina suggests a plan to Alfonso to win the
Alone in their garden, the sisters lament the
absence of their lovers. Suddenly the "Albanians"
stagger in, pretending to have poisoned themselves
in despair over their rejection. Alfonso and Despina
run for a doctor while the ladies begin to waver:
pity for the strangers will be their undoing.
Despina returns, disguised as a doctor using Dr.
Mesmer's invention, the magnet, to draw out the
poison, and urging the sisters to nurse the patients
as they recover. The men revive but their increased
ardor alarms the women, who angrily refuse their
demands for a kiss.
Attending her mistresses, Despina lectures them on
their stubbornness and describes how to handle men
Dorabella is persuaded there could be no harm in a
little flirtation, and surprisingly, Fiordiligi
agrees. They decide who will pair off with whom.
The young men have arranged a serenade in the
garden. Seeing their wager through, Guglielmo
ardently pursues Dorabella while Ferrando woos
Fiordiligi who admits he has touched her heart,
hoping her absent lover will forgive her. When the
men compare notes, Guglielmo is glad to see
Fiordiligi standing fast - or so he thinks - but
Ferrando is dismayed that Dorabella has given in to
Guglielmo, who comments on the waywardness of the
fair sex Left alone, Ferrando expresses his love for
Dorabella, though he feels betrayed.
Fiordiligi rebukes Dorabella for being fickle,
although she admits that in her heart she has
succumbed to the stranger. Despina coaxes her to
find a way, saying love is a thief and people get
robbed every day. Alone, Fiordiligi decides to drag
her sister off to join their sweethearts at the
front, but Ferrando, pursuing the wager, threatens
suicide, and Fiordiligi gives in. Now Guglielmo is
furious, but Alfonso counsels forgiveness: that's
the way women are, he claims.
A double wedding is arranged between the sisters and
the "Albanians." Alfonso brings in the notary -
Despina in another disguise. Just as the ladies have
signed the marriage contract, familiar martial
strains outside herald the return of the former
lovers' regiment. In panic the sisters push their
intended husbands from the room and go more or less
to pieces when the men reappear without their
"Albanian" mufti. Ferrando and Guglielmo storm at
the ladies when the marriage contract is discovered.
But Alfonso explains the deception, reasoning that
true happiness lies not in romantic illusions but in
accepting things as they are. Agreeing a trick can
work both ways, the lovers reconcile.