'It was a treat so truly intellectual that every ear and every breast, susceptible of harmony and of impression, was gratified to a degree beyond our power to describe.' Thus one of the first London reviews in 1811 of Mozart's opera Cosi fan tutte. Its enigmatic mixture of a detached experiment in human foibles and a struggle of sincere emotions has often disturbed audiences: in the last century it was performed under many different titles and extensively bowdlerized. H.C. Robbins Landon observes, however, that Mozart's heartfelt music proves he is openly on the side of the angels - that is, the ladies - not the deceivers, however cynical Da Ponte's words appear to be. Brian Trowell describes the sophisticated world in which the opera was conceived, while John Stone traces the origins of the libretto to Ancient Greece, medieval Italy and even to China. The text is certainly Da Ponte's most original masterwork, and is here presented in Rev. M.E. Browne's acclaimed translation, newly revised by John Cox.
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