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Cosi Fan Tutte

Così Fan Tutte

The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
March 14, 2022
Jordan Wright

Laura Wilde (soprano) and Andrey Zhilikhovsky (baritone) in Cosi fan tutte at the WNO (photo by Scott Suchman)

Introducing the Washington National Opera Company’s Cafritz Young Artists who sang the Ukrainian National Anthem, General Director Timothy Leary welcomed back the audience of opera lovers to the first of the season’s offerings, “We have learned to gather together in community and safety,” he announced with pride. A standing ovation honored both the students’ exceptional talents as well as the audience’s heartfelt sympathies to the Ukrainian people (two Ukraine nationals were in the cast) to set the evening’s enthusiastic tone. Beginning the season with such light-hearted fare, is just the ticket for our COVID doldrums.

Ana-Maria-Martinez-soprano-and-Ferruccio-Furlanetto-bass-in-Cosi-fan-tutte-at-the-WNO (photo-by-Scott-Suchman)

A bit of background:

Commissioned by the Emperor Joseph II, Mozart’s fan fave two-act opera, with text by Lorenzo da Ponte, was first performed in Vienna in January of 1790 and characters of the sisters, Fiordiligi and Dorabella, were actually sisters in real life with their story well-known in Vienna society. It first came to the London stage in 1811 and later to New York at the Metropolitan Opera House in 1922 conducted by Artur Bodanzky. This was at the acme of Mozart’s career and the comic opera is well-regarded as one of his finest compositions.

Così fan tutte is an intriguing tale of Fiordiligi and Dorabella, two sisters betrothed to two soldiers, Guglielmo and Ferrando. Enter the aged bachelor and friend to all concerned Don Alphonso who suggests to the men that all women cannot be faithful. Challenged with testing the women’s fidelity by disguising themselves and tricking their lovers under Alphonso’s direction, the men agree to the bet. Unbeknownst to the lovers, the duplicitous Alphonso enlists the aid of the ladies’ maid, Despina, who is to be handsomely paid for her efforts.

WNO”s “Cosi Fan Tutte”

The plot plays with gender identity in a way that questions the misunderstanding between the sexes. A question as old as the hills and revived by such books as “Men Are from Mars’, Women Are from Venus”. Will the women cave to such amorous machinations by the men who threaten suicide if their lovers do not break their troths and reciprocate their advances? With Don Alphonso’s secretive encouragement, these underhanded swains pull every trick in the book to unhinge the ladies’ devoted commitment to them.

As sumptuously elegant as the music is, it is neatly underpinned by the comic antics of those involved in the set up. The wonderful cast is charged with incorporating comedic abilities as well as their magnificent vocal talents to pull it off, which they do quite well. Watch for Anna María Martinez in three roles as Despina, the doctor, and later the notary to bring the house down thanks to the vivid imagination of Costume Designer Lynly A. Saunders who also nails the 18th century period ladies’ dresses with the appropriate paniers locked and loaded.

A balm for the senses. Highly recommended.

With Kang Wang as Ferrando; Andrey Zhilikhovsky as Gugielmo; Ferrucchio Furlanetto as Don Alphonso; Laura Wilde as Fiordiligi; and Rihab Chaieb as Dorabella.

Conducted by Erina Yashima; Directed by Alison Moritz; Set Design by Erhard Rom; Projection Design by S. Katy Tucker.

Through March 20th at The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2700 F Street, NW, Washington, DC 20566. For tickets and information visit or call 202 467-4600.

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