Mozart's Così fan tutte

September 2008
14 black and white, 7 line illustrations
264 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9781843834069
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Boydell Press

Mozart's Così fan tutte

A Compositional History

Ian Woodfield

A groundbreaking new approach proposes answers to many of the opera's unresolved questions.
WINNER of the Mozart Society of America 'Marjorie Weston Emerson Award' for 2008 This study proposes a hypothesis to account for some of the opera's long-standing 'problems'. It suggests that Mozart considered the idea that the pairings in Act II should not be crossed: that each of the two disguised officers should seek to seduce his own woman. Although this alternative plot structure was rejected, signs of it may remain in the final score, in the uneasy co-existence of dramatic duplicity and musical sincerity, and in the ending, in which the easy restitution of the original couples seems not to take account of the new passions that have been aroused. Evidence that several of the singers were re-cast is also presented.

In addition to these radically new ideas about the conceptual genesis of Così, the book also provides a full account of the work's compositional history, based on early Viennese and Bohemian copies. Four different versions are identified, including a significant revision in which Mozart removed the Act II finale canon. The composer's probable involvement in the 1791 Prague production is also discussed.

IAN WOODFIELD is Professor of Historical Musicology, School of Music and Sonic Arts, Queen's University Belfast.

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Keywords: Music

Table of Contents

The Autograph
Singers and their Arias
Refining the Musical Text
Casting the Roles
Lovers Crossed or Uncrossed
The Vienna Court Theatre Score
Early Manuscript Scores and Parts
Mozart's Revised Vienna Version
Early Italian Language Performances


Elegant and stimulating. Woodfield has done something entirely new. He has written a book about one of the most fascinating and enigmatic of Mozart's operas, based on an exhaustive and scrupulous study of the autograph score and the manuscript copies in which it circulated during the first two decades after its premiere. [The book is an] exceptionally rich and adventurous exploration of Mozart's compositional process. EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY MUSIC
Ian Woodfield's thorough investigation of the composition and afterlife of Cosi Fan Tutte uses more forensic tools than an episode of CSI: Miami and is no less mesmerizing. Woodfield's readable prose and clear lines of thought bring the reader into the fascinating and messy world of eighteenth-century opera production. [...] The text is readable and informative and will be of interest to singers, conductors, directors and fans of one of Mozart's theatrical masterpieces. OPERA NEWS
Woodfield's book will play an important part in the ongoing debate about the operas and their meanings; Cosi will never be quite the same again. EARLY MUSIC
'Compositional histories' do not always address such intriguing and controversial issues...Woodfield expounds the...technical aspects of his scrutiny...with unfailing clarity...We are swept along by the compelling interest of the topic: Cosi is an opera about which it is impossible to remain lukewarm, and this investigation can only deepen its fascination. MUSICAL TIMES

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