Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Cosi fan Tutte

A while ago, Sarah's orchestra played for a partially staged version of this Mozart opera, so of course we went to the show. I enjoyed the music, the orchestra's performance of it, both the singing and the acting of the performers, and the minimal staging.

The story, though, pissed me off. Lorenzo Da Ponte's libretto played with a well-used device: fiancee swapping. An older man says that he can prove to two young men that all women are fickle--and he can do it in one day. At his urging, the two male leads pretend to go to war, then return as rich Albanians and woo each other's fiancees. Eventually, they succeed and get the women to state their love for the new men, thus proving the old man's point.

I was okay with it to this point. If you want to write a story claiming that all people are fickle, I won't argue with you. I might like to believe otherwise, though I'm not even sure I do, but it's certainly a fair point to make.

What pissed me off is that when the men reveal who they truly are, instead of apologizing for being bitches, they berate the women--and the women take it as due chastisement. I understand that in the time and the culture of this opera women's rights were far from what they are today, but as far as I'm concerned, entrapment is entrapment, and the men were if anything far worse than the women.

I hope that after the first performance of this show, Lorenzo Da Ponte went home to a very cold bed that stayed icy for some time.


Eric said...

No argument here.

It gets worse. I remember sitting in stunned amazement the first time I read the translation of "Batti, batti" from Don Giovanni. At least the Don paid for his sins though, unlike the guys in Cosi.

Mark said...

Yeah, the guys in Cosi pay nothing.

Todd said...

The moral of the story is to stick to an occasional strip club and avoid marriage at all cost.

Mark said...

I'm not sure most folks would agree with you, Todd, though I certainly know some who would.

Elizabeth said...

What's a little berating a couple hundred years ago when today, a woman in the middle east can still get stoned to death for being raped?

Mark said...

You are right in scale, of course, Elizabeth, and that situation is far more maddening, sad, reprehensible, and stupid, but the opera still annoyed me.


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