Chapter

Sense and Sensibility in <i>Così fan tutte</i>

Jessica Waldoff

in Recognition in Mozart's Operas

Published in print May 2006 | ISBN: 9780195151978
Published online May 2008 | e-ISBN: 9780199870387 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195151978.003.0007
Sense and Sensibility in Così fan tutte

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This chapter places Così in the context of the culture of sensibility that indoctrinated its impressionable quartet of lovers. Its seeming representation of an anti-sentimental position needs to be understood as a hallmark of sentimental works. When Don Alfonso's experiment sets the immediacy of feeling against the vows of constancy it was supposed to engender, he exploits a contradiction inherent in the sentimental genres all along. Special attention is given to the question of whether it is appropriate to view certain scenes (including “Vorrei Dir” and “Smanie implacabili”) as parody, and to the problem of the ending. Recognition in this opera is divided against itself and the conflict between sentimental and anti-sentimental reaches a point of crisis at the dénouement, which explains why the opera's happy ending feels hollow to many.

Keywords: culture of sensibility; problem of ending; sentimental; anti-sentimental; constancy

Chapter.  14089 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Opera

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