Agathe Poupeney / OnP

Agathe Poupeney / OnP

Opera

Così fan tutte

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Palais Garnier

from 10 June to 09 July 2024

from €90 to €200

3h25 with 1 interval

Così fan tutte

Palais Garnier - from 10 June to 09 July 2024

Synopsis

Listen to the synopsis

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Why choose between music and dance? In Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker's version of Così fan tutte, the two are intimately linked.

Pairing each singer with a dancer, the Belgian choreographer, founder of the Rosas company, reveals the sinuosities of desire and the attractions between bodies in the course of the amorous chassé-croisé composed by Mozart with his librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte.

For their third collaboration after The Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni, the two partners adopt a story with vaudeville overtones. Devoid of illusions concerning human nature, Don Alfonso decides to test the fidelity of women: their fiancés pretend to go to war and return to seduce them using new identities.

The gaiety of the score gives way to muted anxiety: is this a farewell to the ideals of youth or the end of a world shattered in 1789, a year before the premiere of Così fan tutte?

Duration : 3h25 with 1 interval

Language : Italian

Surtitle : French / English

Show acts and characters

CHARACTERS

Ferrando, Guglielmo: Two young officers
Fiordiligi: Guglielmo’s fiancée
Dorabella: Fiordiligi’s sister, Ferrando’s fiancée
Don Alfonso: Philosopher, friend of Ferrando and Guglielmo
Despina: Fiordiligi and Dorabella’s chambermaid

First part

Act 1
Don Alfonso, a philosopher, ironises on the subject of women’s constancy, causing Ferrando and Guglielmo, two young officers, to declare their unwavering confidence in the faithfulness of their respective brides-to-be, Dorabella and Fiordiligi. Don Alfonso wagers a hundred sequins that the objects of the young girls’ affections can be changed in the course of a day. On their honour as soldiers, the young men undertake to obey Don Alfonso in everything for the next twenty-four hours. Convinced of their victory, they discuss what they will buy with their winnings: Ferrando, a serenade to his beloved, Guglielmo, a banquet.

In a garden on the coast, Fiordiligi and Dorabella lovingly contemplate the lockets which enclose their fiancés’ portraits. Don Alfonso, feigning deep sorrow, announces that their lovers have been mobilised and must leave immediately. The two officers come to bid farewell to their fiancées whose despair prompts Don Alfonso to further irony. Despina, the chamber maid, bemoans her lot as a servant. Dorabella’s grandiloquent grief at first worries Despina, but on learning its cause, she suggests her mistresses profit from the absence of their fiancés to amuse themselves. Incensed, Fiordiligi and Dorabella depart.

Don Alfonso asks Despina to help him in his schemes in return for some reward, but without revealing to her the full extent of the hoax. He introduces Ferrando and Guglielmo, disguised as Albanians. On returning, Fiordiligi and Dorabella find Despina in the company of the two “strangers”. They express their indignation. Don Alfonso, pretending he has just arrived, introduces the “Albanians” as long-time friends. Guglielmo boasts about their admirable physiques, which provokes the departure of the outraged sisters. Ferrando and Guglielmo consider that they have won, but in Don Alfonso’s view everything is still to play for.

In the garden, the sisters lament. The two “Albanians” feign suicide under their eyes by swallowing so-called poison. Don Alfonso calls for a doctor, a disciple of Mesmer, who is none other than Despina in disguise. The two men are miraculously revived and resume their vehement wooing of the young girls.

Second part

Act 2
Despina gives the sisters a lesson on the behaviour to adopt towards men. Fiordiligi and Dorabella agree to amuse themselves in the company of the “Albanians”, each choosing the fiancé of the other. The two men serenade their sweethearts. Dorabella does not hold out long against Guglielmo’s ardent declarations and gives him the locket containing Ferrando’s portrait. Fiordiligi, though, rejects Ferrando’s advances despite the growing confusion she feels.

Ferrando tells his friend of his failure, but is forced to confront Dorabella’s betrayal. Guglielmo declares he has won his half of the wager. Don Alfonso reminds them of the terms of their agreement; he is not beaten yet. Fiordiligi, who is less and less sure of her feelings, decides to join her fiancé with the troops, but Ferrando intervenes. This time she is unable to resist his passionate professions of love and succumbs. Don Alfonso is triumphant: così fan tutte (women are all alike!). He soothes the anger of the two officers and suggests that they marry their sweethearts that very evening.

The wedding is being prepared. Despina, disguised as a notary, draws up the fake marriage contracts. Just as they are being signed, a military march signals the return of the fiancés. The young girls panic. The “Albanians” pretend to hide and return as their true selves. They affect surprise on discovering the bogus notary and marriage contracts and demand an explanation from their dismayed fiancées. Don Alfonso then reveals the deception and asks the four young people to let themselves be guided by reason.

Artists

Opera buffa in two acts (1790)


Creative team

Cast

Paris Opera Orchestra and Chorus
With the dancers of the Rosas company

Media

[TRAILER] COSÌ FAN TUTTE by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
[TRAILER] COSÌ FAN TUTTE by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Draw-me Così fan tutte

    Draw-me Così fan tutte

    Watch the video

  • All the same, men and women alike

    All the same, men and women alike

    Read the article

  • Dancing with words

    Dancing with words

    Watch the video

Draw-me Così fan tutte

Watch the video

Understand the plot in 1 minute

1:37 min

Draw-me Così fan tutte

By Matthieu Pajot

© Anne Van Aerschot

All the same, men and women alike

Read the article

Interview with Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker

11 min

All the same, men and women alike

By Wannes Gyselinck

The Opera has invited choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker to stage Mozart's Così fan tutte. Literally: "All women behave the same way." The choreographer returns to the ambiguities of Così, misogynist for some, a forerunner to feminism for others.

Cosi fan tutte is often accused of being a misogynist work. What is your opinion on the question?


Così fan tutte
received an unusual welcome. Mozart composed the opera in 1790, a year after the French Revolution and a year before his death. These two shadows hover over the opera. This explains why, musically speaking, this comedy expresses a feeling of loss. We sense a farewell to life and a farewell to an era. The first unanimously acclaimed performances were followed by the sudden death of Joseph II, head of the Holy Roman Empire. He was not only Mozart's patron and protector, but also one of the most illustrious political figures of the Enlightenment. In particular, he had reformed marital law so that women could give their consent before marrying. In other words, they were able, for the first time, to choose their partner. After the French Revolution and the Terror came the bourgeois restoration with its stricter morals, at the expense of women, as always. In this transformed climate, Così fan tutte suddenly seemed too light, too frivolous, too sexually explicit. No doubt, the libretto was also responsible, walking the tightrope as it does between opera buffa and opera seria, between comic and serious.

The opera is not misogynous, quite the contrary. Both interpretations - misogyny and excessive frivolity – reveal, I feel, superficial reading. Above all, superficial listening. Prima the musica, dopo le parole. First the music, then the words. For it is in the music that everything is played out. The music transforms the burlesque banality of this boulevard comedy into a deeply melancholic, almost cosmic-religious contemplation on the relationship between desire and death, and on the complexity of the human soul. Especially the music of the female characters. In reality, the men are portrayed as idiots. They act like machos. Only their wives' faithfulness counts, it is a question of honour vis-à-vis other men. To be cuckolded, betrayed by another man, was the supreme humiliation. 


Could it be said that Mozart was a precocious feminist, in this case?


We are sure that in the last years of his life Mozart was very much influenced by the Enlightenment thinkers. Their ideas, which would eventually trigger the French Revolution, circulated in secret Viennese societies of which Mozart was a member - Freemasons, Rosicrucians and other esoteric clubs. To use the vocabulary of the Freemasons, these places were true workshops where they sought ways to transform the existing order on the basis of Reason. Don Alfonso's experiment should be read as a proposal to fundamentally challenge and reassess the established order between men and women, based on reason. It is a typical Enlightenment project.

Mozart adds a critical dimension to this project through music. As Don Alfonso's lesson in moral is expounded, the music takes on no triumphant tones, something unheard-of in an opera finale. It also holds back somewhat in the arias where Mozart gives wings to his characters' thoughts and to the complex hues of their sentimental lives, especially those of the women. The music takes on a depth that suggests the volcanic potential of animal desire and instincts, as well as their vulnerability. The fact that the dramatic and musical summits of the arias are those of the female characters owes nothing to chance. If Mozart suggests anything, it is that the sentimental life of women is more serious and more profound than that of men. Don Alfonso's moral lesson may perhaps shelter you from naivety or even the bruises of love, but Mozart seems to have strong doubts that placing all our trust in reason can make us happy.    


Should we conclude that the music casts a shadow over the moral lesson of the Enlightenment?


Yes, but the libretto is also less naive than one might think. Despina, the slightly older maid, is the female counterpart of Don Alfonso. While the men supposedly go off to war, she obliges the women, afflicted and left at home, to face reality. "Do you really think your fiancées who have gone to war will remain faithful? My young doves, have no illusions. Instead of sitting sobbing, do as I do, go hunting!" She makes a plea for feminine autonomy, for pleasure and a sense of reality. The process they undergo invites them to take a new look at relations between men and women.
For the men too, Ferrando first, make the unsettling observation that they may be in love with two women at the same time and that their courtly and aristocratic notion of love is too simplistic.

By trading their traditional uniforms for the exotic clothes of Albanian soldiers, they open a door that allows them to escape protocols. All of a sudden, love becomes a terra incognita, a laboratory where it is possible to carry out experiments without knowing the result in advance, even for the men. Così fan tutte's plot is often compared to a chemical process: four characters are merged and the audience observes the result.
© Anne Van Aerschot

If "Cosi" is an alchemical experiment, what is the gold produced at the end?


It's a tricky question. Because the new interactions, the newly-formed couples, are undone at the end. All the actors come out of the experiment in tatters. Nothing has changed in appearance, yet nothing can be as before. At the beginning of the opera, they possess an idealistic and naive idea of love. Love is eternal, unconditional, ultimate. This is unrealistic and even unreal: the men take their wives for goddesses; the women swoon in front of the portraits of their lovers. Actually, they are all in love with an idea. One cannot call it romanticism, for that is yet to come. Let's just say that their ideas about love are conventional. They are part of existing societal structures that serve to contain instincts and passions.

More so in women. The symbolic gold lies, therefore, in the invitation to accept more complex, less naive and more adult ideas about love. In my opinion, this is the true moral lesson: yes, it will hurt, love is indeed complicated, disturbing, uprooting; but nobody can do anything about it. We are very far from the "heroines" of romantic operas who go mad through love, or, deceived or abandoned, take their own lives in a Lucia di Lammermoor-style fit of hysteria. Isn't it in these romantic operas that we find true misogyny?


How would you explain them?


The period during which Mozart wrote the opera can also be seen as a transformation in the alchemical sense. The French Revolution, the transmission of power from the aristocracy to the bourgeoisie, also bids farewell to the established order and heralds a quest for other possible forms. But these elements are not enough to explain the music's melancholy, which often occurs at times when the text is relatively commonplace. Take for example the two couples' moment of separation, in Soave sia il vento, when the men supposedly leave for war.
The music goes much further than the plot itself. Few pieces of music express with such nuance and force the relation between desire and death. Wherever the word "desire" is sung, Mozart places a chord containing an unknown, almost modern dissonance.

Desire is brought into tension from a harmonic point of view. The same thing happens in Le Nozze di Figaro when Barbarina loses her pin in the grass. She sings that she cannot find her pin and fears that the intrigue will be divulged. The statement could hardly be more banal on the surface. But the music is elegiac in beauty. Mozart expresses here a feeling of loss that we can frankly describe as existential. It is tempting to consider this scene in the light of his approaching and far-too premature death. In Mozart, this moment echoes a consciousness of concrete finitude, and also suggests a consciousness integrated into the whole.

How do you manage this tension between the libretto and the music in your staging?


The function of dance is to underline the tension between text and music, and even at times to emphasise it. As in Vortex Temporum, every musician, every singer in this case, is doubled by a dancer. This duplication creates a third visible voice alongside the music and the text. It was above all because of the music that, despite my doubts about opera as a medium, I accepted the Paris Opera's invitation: it is so full of movement, both bodily and emotional. Taking music as a starting point, I hope to attain a higher degree of abstraction, and through it discover the essence of the work. In most productions, the beauty and depth of the music is drowned under draperies, costumes, doors that open and close.

No effort is spared to make the intrigue and psychology clear. It is precisely these aspects that interest me the least. In this respect, Michael Haneke is the exception that confirms the rule. His approach was very realistic, yet his staging was masterful. Others update the situation, like Peter Sellars who transposes the story into a modern American diner and insists on the buffa aspect. My objective is different again: to use dance to disperse the tension between the instincts of life and death. How can we make Mozart's ideas readable or better still tangible, without interpreting them? How can dance elevate the anecdotal dimensions of the plot to a higher, more human, even cosmic level? How can we ensure that we are not talking about men and women but about masculine and feminine energies?   

What attracts you least for the moment in the classic man/woman dance scenario?


I am more interested in recursive phenomena that go beyond this biological polarity. It's not that I deny this polarity, but I seek to translate it into a more abstract form. I find it less and less interesting to embody it in its most primary and instinctive form - man set against woman. Just what interests me about dance is the possibility it offers to materialize the most abstract ideas. This development is also linked to aging: I feel a greater need for formalism in writing, to touch more on the essence of things.


Wannes Gyselinck is senior editor of rekto:verso.

© Anne Van Aerschot

Dancing with words

Watch the video

Backstage with Cosi fan tutte

4:00 min

Dancing with words

By Octave

A l’occasion de la nouvelle production de Così fan tutte mise en scène par Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, rencontre en répétition avec les chanteurs Edwin Crossley-Mercer (Guglielmo) et Michèle Losier (Dorabella), et les danseurs Michaël Pomero (Guglielmo) et Cynthia Loemij (Fiordiligi).    

  • [EXTRAIT] COSÌ FAN TUTTE de Mozart - "Una donna a quindici anni" (Hera Hyesang Park)
  • [EXTRAIT] COSÌ FAN TUTTE de Mozart - "Un aura amorosa" (Josh Lovell)
  • [EXTRAIT] COSÌ FAN TUTTE de Mozart - "Prenderò quel brunettino" (Vannina Santoni, Angela Brower)
  • [EXTRAIT] COSÌ FAN TUTTE de Mozart - "Una bella serenata" (Josh Lovell, Gordon Bintner, Paulo Szot)
  • Così fan tutte (saison 23/24) - Alla bella Despinetta

  • Così fan tutte (saison 23/24) - Ouverture

  • Così fan tutte (saison 23/24) - Una donna a quindici anni

  • Così fan tutte (saison 23/24)

  • Così fan tutte (saison 23/24) - Duetto Prendero quel brunettino

  • Così fan tutte (saison 23/24) - Un aura amorosa

  • Così fan tutte (saison 23/24) - Una bella serenata

Press

  • It is surprising, then dizzying, and finally bewitching (...).

    Anne Sinclair / Le Journal du Dimanche
  • At the Palais Garnier, choreographer Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker creates a dazzling, bittersweet Così fan tutte in which singers and dancers render Mozart's youthfulness swirling and heartbreaking.

    Sceneweb
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Così fan tutte


Watch online the recording from season 17/18 on Paris Opera Play, with Jacquelyn Wagner, Michèle Losier, Frédéric Antoun, Philippe Sly...

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Access and services

Palais Garnier

Place de l'Opéra

75009 Paris

Public transport

Underground Opéra (lignes 3, 7 et 8), Chaussée d’Antin (lignes 7 et 9), Madeleine (lignes 8 et 14), Auber (RER A)

Bus 20, 21, 27, 29, 32, 45, 52, 66, 68, 95, N15, N16

Calculate my route
Car park

Q-Park Edouard VII16 16, rue Bruno Coquatrix 75009 Paris

Book your parking spot
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After The Marriage of Figaro (1786) and Don Giovanni (1787), Così fan tutte was Mozart’s third and final collaboration with the Italian poet and librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte (1749-1838). The latter, who had initially embarked on an ecclesiastical career before embracing the pleasures of a more earthly life in Venice, Vienna, then Prague and Dresden, was finally forced to flee his creditors and cross the Atlantic and settle in New York, where he would organise the American premiere of Don Giovanni.

BUY THE PROGRAM
  • Cloakrooms

    Free cloakrooms are at your disposal. The comprehensive list of prohibited items is available here.

  • Bars

    Reservation of drinks and light refreshments for the intervals is possible online up to 24 hours prior to your visit, or at the bars before each performance.

  • Restaurant

    CoCo is open every day from 12:00 pm to 2:00 am. More information on coco-paris.com or at +33 1 42 68 86 80 (reservations).

  • Parking

    You can park your car at the Q-Park Edouard VII. It is located at Rue Bruno Coquatrix 75009 Paris (in front of 23 Rue de Caumartin).

    BOOK YOUR PARKING PLACE.

At the Palais Garnier, buy €10 tickets for seats in the 6th category (very limited visibility, two tickets maximum per person) on the day of the performance at the Box offices.

In both our venues, discounted tickets are sold at the box offices from 30 minutes before the show:

  • €35 tickets for under-28s, unemployed people (with documentary proof less than 3 months old) and senior citizens over 65 with non-taxable income (proof of tax exemption for the current year required)
  • €70 tickets for senior citizens over 65

Get samples of the operas and ballets at the Paris Opera gift shops: programmes, books, recordings, and also stationery, jewellery, shirts, homeware and honey from Paris Opera.

Palais Garnier
  • Every day from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and until performances end
  • Get in from Place de l’Opéra or from within the theatre’s public areas
  • For more information: +33 1 53 43 03 97

Palais Garnier

Place de l'Opéra

75009 Paris

Public transport

Underground Opéra (lignes 3, 7 et 8), Chaussée d’Antin (lignes 7 et 9), Madeleine (lignes 8 et 14), Auber (RER A)

Bus 20, 21, 27, 29, 32, 45, 52, 66, 68, 95, N15, N16

Calculate my route
Car park

Q-Park Edouard VII16 16, rue Bruno Coquatrix 75009 Paris

Book your parking spot
super alt text
super alt text
super alt text
super alt text
super alt text

After The Marriage of Figaro (1786) and Don Giovanni (1787), Così fan tutte was Mozart’s third and final collaboration with the Italian poet and librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte (1749-1838). The latter, who had initially embarked on an ecclesiastical career before embracing the pleasures of a more earthly life in Venice, Vienna, then Prague and Dresden, was finally forced to flee his creditors and cross the Atlantic and settle in New York, where he would organise the American premiere of Don Giovanni.

BUY THE PROGRAM
  • Cloakrooms

    Free cloakrooms are at your disposal. The comprehensive list of prohibited items is available here.

  • Bars

    Reservation of drinks and light refreshments for the intervals is possible online up to 24 hours prior to your visit, or at the bars before each performance.

  • Restaurant

    CoCo is open every day from 12:00 pm to 2:00 am. More information on coco-paris.com or at +33 1 42 68 86 80 (reservations).

  • Parking

    You can park your car at the Q-Park Edouard VII. It is located at Rue Bruno Coquatrix 75009 Paris (in front of 23 Rue de Caumartin).

    BOOK YOUR PARKING PLACE.

At the Palais Garnier, buy €10 tickets for seats in the 6th category (very limited visibility, two tickets maximum per person) on the day of the performance at the Box offices.

In both our venues, discounted tickets are sold at the box offices from 30 minutes before the show:

  • €35 tickets for under-28s, unemployed people (with documentary proof less than 3 months old) and senior citizens over 65 with non-taxable income (proof of tax exemption for the current year required)
  • €70 tickets for senior citizens over 65

Get samples of the operas and ballets at the Paris Opera gift shops: programmes, books, recordings, and also stationery, jewellery, shirts, homeware and honey from Paris Opera.

Palais Garnier
  • Every day from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and until performances end
  • Get in from Place de l’Opéra or from within the theatre’s public areas
  • For more information: +33 1 53 43 03 97

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