Mozart, opera, Cosi fan tutte


Hardly any opera has endured more scrutiny and self-preserving apology than Mozart’s Così fan tutte. Flagrant opposition and a long string of “rescue” attempts shroud the receptive history of the work. Since its premiere, Così fan tutte has long been recognized as a problem opera. Many critics found it implausible that Mozart—the consummate composer and man that warranted their idolization—could have stooped so low as to agree to such an immoral plot. The great beauty in Mozart’s musical parody is that it at once mocks and transforms the supposed superficial experiment of Lorenzo Da Ponte’s libretto. The parody in Così fan tutte must be correctly interpreted. It is rampant, but it exists for much more than a perfunctory laugh. The beauty of Mozart’s music—in both moments of wild parody and heartfelt emotion—succeeds in giving Così fan tutte a depth that is both challenging and transforming.



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