Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Men and Women, Music and Words


From left: Ginger Costa-Jackson (Dorabella), Craig Verm (Guglielmo), Laura Tatulescu (Despina), Marina Costa-Jackson (Fiordiligi), and Tuomas Katajala (Ferrando), Seattle Opera, Cosi fan tutte 2018 © Philip Newton
By Lucy Caplan
Women cannot be trusted, Don Alfonso tells his impressionable young companions, and your lovers are no exception. Just watch me prove it, he huffsand so the story of Così fan tutte begins. At this moment, settled comfortably in my seat as an audience member, I begin to feel conflicted. I have already been delighted by Mozart’s effervescent music, which has captivated me from the first notes of the overture. But now I am also exasperated by Alfonso’s broadbrush dismissal of all women as inherently untrustworthy, and by Guglielmo and Ferrando’s willingness to deceive the women they love. 

It doesn’t feel right simply to ignore Alfonso’s brazenly sexist sentiments. It also doesn’t feel right to let that frustration negate my enjoyment of the opera’s beauty and charm. So, as the story and the music continue to pull me in different directions, I can’t help but wonder: Is this a misogynistic work of art? If it is, and I love it regardless, what does that say about me? 

I am not the first operagoer to have qualms about Cosi’s portrayals of women, though the reasons behind the criticisms have changed over time. After a moderately successful premiere in Vienna in 1790, the opera only lingered on the margins of the standard repertoire for more than a century. One reason for its infrequent performance was that it scandalized nineteenth-century audiences with its frank depiction of women’s sexuality, particularly Fiordiligi and Dorabella’s infidelity. In response to this criticism, some productions tweaked Cosi’s plot to make it more socially acceptable—transforming Don Alfonso into a sorcerer and Despina into a sprite, for instance, so as to transport the opera into the realm of fantasy. One version abandoned Da Ponte’s libretto entirely, replacing it with a French translation of Love’s Labour’s Lost. These revisions strived for a neat separation between story and sound, which would minimize the women’s “immoral” behavior while preserving the musical beauty. 

In the twentieth century, Cosi finally entered the canon—including in the United States, where it received a longoverdue premiere in 1922. Ironically, the women’s rights movement may have helped make its success possible: the opera’s rise in popularity corresponded with the ascent of first-wave feminism and newly progressive social mores regarding women’s behavior on and off the stage. Today, it is among the world’s most popular operas. 

Ginger Costa-Jackson (Dorabella) and Marina Costa-Jackson (Fiordiligi), Seattle Opera, Così fan tutte 2018, © Philip Newton
As a twenty-first-century listener, I don’t find the opera’s content especially risqué. What disturbs me is how Cosi seems to make light of the male characters’ attitudes toward the women. Guglielmo and Ferrando’s scheme to test their lovers’ fidelity is as cynical as it is absurd. They take pleasure in setting the women up for failure, deceiving the people they claim to love. The women succumb to temptation, seeming to confirm the sexist claim that “all women are like that”; that is, devious and fickle. But nobody onstage ever asks if “all men are like that,” or whether the guys are acting in a devious manner themselves. 

As this all unfolds, a striking mismatch emerges between the libretto and the score, which is heartfelt and tender throughout. Opera is always artificial to some extent—we don’t generally communicate through song or punctuate our daily lives with arias—but Cosi is exceptional in this regard, combining a darkly implausible plot with deeply sincere music. 

As I listen, I wonder if I should let music and plot remain comfortably separate. The loveliness of Mozart’s music makes complacency tempting; it would be easy not to think too much about the piece’s implications in the world outside the opera house. Oriented only by beauty, my moral compass wavers. Maybe yours does, too. Listening to one delightful melody after another puts me at ease; the artistry conceals the ugliness of sexism. But is there something amiss when we admire the opera’s beauty, regardless of what it cloaks? Can we meaningfully separate our listening selves from our broader ideals and beliefs? 

Hanna Hipp (Dorabella) and Marjukka Tepponen (Fiordiligi), Seattle Opera, Così fan tutte 2018, © Philip Newton
These questions are not unique to Cosi. Related issues arise across the standard opera repertoire, from Madame Butterfly’s Orientalism to Otello’s racism to Don Giovanni’s sexual violence. Each work prompts the question of what to do when the world an opera depicts is out of sync with contemporary values. But the music and story intermingle in complicated ways. With Cosi, the contrast between a superficial storyline and musical depth actually heightens the potential for complexity. Mozart’s music invites me to come closer, to listen more intently. When I do that, I find that I grapple with this opera’s sexism—beyond simply noting its presence—and I see new nuances in the characters and new relationships between the opera and our own time. 

Take the relationship between Fiordiligi and Ferrando, for instance. When Fiordiligi sings the majestic aria “Come scoglio,” her expansive vocal range conveys the depth of her convictions; no one could mistake this music as insincere. Another way to say this might be that while the male characters are having fun at the expense of the women, the music is not. Later, she reluctantly capitulates to Ferrando’s advances (“Yield, my dearest!”…“Cruel man, you’ve won! Do with me what you will”). The moment feels eerily resonant with the stories that have dominated the news lately—accounts of powerful men, from actors to politicians, who take advantage of vulnerable women. Against this contemporary backdrop, my response isn’t to tsk-tsk Fiordiligi for her unfaithfulness. I’m infuriated by Ferrando’s cruelty and Fiordiligi’s inability to escape it. Listening in this way makes me wonder if the claim “Così fan tutte” is anything more than a cynical provocation. When Alfonso, Ferrando, and Guglielmo sing it near the opera’s end, enclosed in boldly stated chords, they certainly try to make it sound definitive, but I don’t have to accept it as such. 
Modern stagings and interpretations, like this one, bring all sorts of creative possibilities to the fore. They allow the opera itself to try on disguises, as it were, to experiment with different facets of its identity. This production, set in contemporary Seattle, embraces Cosi’s obsession with creativity and costumes; comical touches show us how even the men who think they’re all-powerful end up looking a bit ridiculous. 

Ultimately, one of Cosi’s signature revelations is that what seem like fundamental splits—between men and women, music and words, art and audience, the world outside the opera house and the world within it—are never as absolute as they appear. Art and artifice may distance us temporarily from outside realities, but they don’t make those realities disappear. So I want to resist both the temptation to excuse Cosi’s sexism in the name of art and the temptation to let that sexism ruin an opera that I otherwise love. Instead, I’ll embrace the opera’s ability to do what all great works of art do: to bridge the divide between its world and our own, revealing something profound in the process. 

Lucy Caplan is a Ph.D. candidate at Yale University, where she is writing a dissertation on African American opera in the early twentieth century. She is the recipient of the 2016 Rubin Prize for Music Criticism. 

Così fan tutte plays at McCaw Hall through January 27. Tickets and information at seattleopera.org/cosi

17 comments:

MONICA DAVID said...

SPEAKING FROM EXPERIENCE WITH GOOD RESULT TO TESTIFY ABOUT

I am Monica David from Ontario Canada, i want to testify about the good service of Dr. Ugo Wonders living in USA for helping me bring back my fiancee who left me because of a prostitute. it was a terrible and depressing time when my fiancee whom we were supposed to be married in two months cancelled our wedding because of a prostitute who cast a spell on him and stole him away. i was searching for help online when i saw a review about Dr. Ugo of General Spell Temple, i then contacted him for help. I followed all his instruction accordingly as he assured and guaranteed me that my Fiancee will be back in 48 hours, to my greatest surprise in exactly two days after the spell was cast, my Fiance called me and started to apologize for leaving me because of another lady. i waited for two months in which we are now married before i could testify and right now, we are one happy family and its going to remain like this for ever.. all thanks to Dr. Ugo Wonders of General Spell Temple. you can contact Dr. Ugo for any relationship problem through his direct email
generalspelltemple@gmail.com or call him directly on +1 386-336-9876

website:http://generalspelltempleblog.wordpress.com

Teresa Hamilton said...

The looks so great! I admire their work.
instagram online

Anonymous said...

I am subbitming this here today to tell everyone one that your broken marriage and how you will get back your ex lover,can be restored with the help of this great man DR. TRUST, I will start by saying to all that have experience heart break and also can't do without their lover should please stop here and read up my story, So as you will know how to go solving or getting your ex back...Am writing this article to appreciate the good work of Dr Trust that helped me recently to bring back my husband. My husband broke up with me last three month becaause he thought i was cheating on him, so for the past three month now i have trying to plead with him but he still say the same thing that he does not want us to come back again that he can not trust me so i came in contact with Dr Trust, who told me that my husband is going to come back to me if i work with him,so i did what he ask me to do. My husband is back home now and we are joyfully living together as one good family and i thank the powerful spell caster Dr Trust He is so powerful and i decided to share my story on the internet that good spell casters still exist and Dr.Trust is one of the good spell caster who i will always pray to live long to help his children in the time of trouble My husband now love me more than before i am so happy. If you need a spell caster that can cast a spell that truly works fast, I suggest you contact him (Drbalogungreatspelltemple@gmail.com)or
call him +2347064627888 you can also view his blog Drbalogungreatspelltemple.blogspot.com

Taylor Florian said...

I looked forward to be a whole family again with a love spell, I actually got tired of living a depressing life. I was so unlucky that my husband fell out of love with me; he keeps threatening me with divorce paper almost everyday. But all I wanted in our home are positive thinking, love and happiness all the time. I wanted us to be good parent to our kids. When Dr. Wakina stepped in with his helping hands via dr.wakinalovetemple@gmail.com I began to feel lighter on the inside, I stopped having that heavy feeling on my chest during the process of the love spell. Two days after, my husband started exhibiting some positive character. He confessed that he was thinking of me more recently even when he was with his girlfriend. I was overwhelmed when he came to me and apologized for every wrong he has done to me, I also apologized to him as well.  Dr. I just want to say thanks for the patience and kindness shown to me during the whole spell process. My husband and I has been living happily after the love spell, none of his exs ever comeback.

Anonymous said...

The problem is that I have been focusing on the negative part of marriage, not speaking to anyone about my failed marriage and pretending everything is okay by putting up fake smiles. My husband transformed into a beast, cheater and abuser. It was unbearable to see a man who once vowed to shield us as family transfer aggression to me and the kids, pushing us hard to the wall.
But there is time, reason and season for everything either good or bad. I ran to Dr. Wakina for salvation which I eventually achieved through his extra ordinary spell. Our differences were settled and every heart wounds healed within 2weeks. I am grateful my husband transformed again to an angel which he has always been. Thanks to our redeemer (dr.wakinalovetemple@gmail.com) Dr. Wakina Love Temple.

Lucian Dallas said...

I grew up with a distorted self-esteem which eventually stood in mine and my husband’s way for years. He gladly picked it up and used it to his advantage. Only a person that has endured marital affair will understand how hard it was to cope with his unfaithful behavior that pierced a dagger through my heart and slowly pulled it back out.
Years after going to a hypnotist and so many therapists to see if that would help, dr. wakina at dr.wakinalovetemple@gmail.com demonstrated his competence as one gentleman who rendered the help I needed in four days. His abilities made me realize that I have been wasting my precious time undergoing therapy and coming out feeling no difference for a situation that can only be solved spiritually.
My wait on the day in which he holds me in his arms again was over after an authentic love spell that sanitized my marriage for good and boosted my self-esteem.

Lindsay Cullen said...

1) Dr. Wakina is an uncelebrated hero that can restore peace to a broken heart through his well refined and harmless love spell, his spell can bring back a lost lover or rebuild a broken marriage within days.
2) He trained himself spiritually to respect and protect the values of victimized people by helping them face/defeat their obstacles in his best capacity.
3) Doc is generous in spirit; he gives back his spiritual talent to the public as much as possible as a selfless man he is.
4) His main purpose is to save hearts and rebuild a relationship/marriage.
My name is Lindsay Cullen; my marriage was among the many that was rebuilt by this wonder working king of spell through: dr.wakinalovetemple@gmail.com
I decided to share to share this after studying and learning from him during the whole love spell process. He is indeed a man to trust.

Charlotte Keagan said...

Email Dr Sambo for real love spell: divinespellhome@gmail.com

Hello viewers, I living in South Africa My name is Charlotte Keagan I am very happy to share this amazing testimony, i was hurt and heart broken when my husband left me with our two children, i was confused and didn't know what to do, i loved him so much, i tried all i could to bring him back but to no avail, on one faithfully day as i was coming from work i met a friend of mine whom i explain my problem to, and she told me of a spell caster called "Dr Sambo" whom also make her pregnant when she was looking for a child, i contacted the spell caster through the email she gave to me, and the spell caster told me what to do and i did exactly as i was told, to my grates surprise, my husband who has not called me for a very long time, called me and start apologizing for all the wrongs he did to me, and now he loved me more than ever before, brothers and sisters if you are passing through any kind problem contact him and i give you 100% guarantee that he will solve your problems. this is his contacts divinespellhome@gmail.com or divinespellhome@yahoo.com contact him on his whatsapp mobile line +2348145810121

Charlotte Keagan said...

Email Dr Sambo for real love spell: divinespellhome@gmail.com

Hello viewers, I living in South Africa My name is Charlotte Keagan I am very happy to share this amazing testimony, i was hurt and heart broken when my husband left me with our two children, i was confused and didn't know what to do, i loved him so much, i tried all i could to bring him back but to no avail, on one faithfully day as i was coming from work i met a friend of mine whom i explain my problem to, and she told me of a spell caster called "Dr Sambo" whom also make her pregnant when she was looking for a child, i contacted the spell caster through the email she gave to me, and the spell caster told me what to do and i did exactly as i was told, to my grates surprise, my husband who has not called me for a very long time, called me and start apologizing for all the wrongs he did to me, and now he loved me more than ever before, brothers and sisters if you are passing through any kind problem contact him and i give you 100% guarantee that he will solve your problems. this is his contacts divinespellhome@gmail.com or divinespellhome@yahoo.com contact him on his whatsapp mobile line +2348145810121

Charlotte Keagan said...

Email Dr Sambo for real love spell: divinespellhome@gmail.com

Hello viewers, I living in South Africa My name is Charlotte Keagan I am very happy to share this amazing testimony, i was hurt and heart broken when my husband left me with our two children, i was confused and didn't know what to do, i loved him so much, i tried all i could to bring him back but to no avail, on one faithfully day as i was coming from work i met a friend of mine whom i explain my problem to, and she told me of a spell caster called "Dr Sambo" whom also make her pregnant when she was looking for a child, i contacted the spell caster through the email she gave to me, and the spell caster told me what to do and i did exactly as i was told, to my grates surprise, my husband who has not called me for a very long time, called me and start apologizing for all the wrongs he did to me, and now he loved me more than ever before, brothers and sisters if you are passing through any kind problem contact him and i give you 100% guarantee that he will solve your problems. this is his contacts divinespellhome@gmail.com or divinespellhome@yahoo.com contact him on his whatsapp mobile line +2348145810121

Olivia Hannah said...

Hi everyone I'm Olivia Hannah and am here to share the wonderful work Dr Raypower did for me. After 5 years in marriage with my husband with 2 kids, my husband started acting weird and going out with other ladies and showed me cold love, on several occasions he threatens to divorce me if I dare question him about his affair with other ladies, I was totally devastated and confused until a old friend of mine told me about a spell caster on the internet called Dr. Raypower who help people with relationship and marriage problem by the powers of love spells, at first I doubted if such thing ever exists but decided to give it a try, when I contact him, he helped me cast a love spell and within 48hours my husband came back to me and started apologizing, now he has stopped going out with other ladies and his with me for good and for real. Contact this great love spell caster for your relationship or marriage problem to be solved today via email: urgentspellcast@gmail.com or Call or Text: +14243308109.

Read more about him on his website: http://urgentspellcast.website2.me/

Hargis Tenney said...

I want to use this medium to tell the world about DOCTOR MOMODU who helped me in getting my lover back with his powerful spell, my ex and i where having misunderstanding which led to our breakup though i went to beg her several times to please forgive and accept me back because i know i offended her but each time i went i away feel more deeply in pain and agony because she away walk out on me and would not want to listen to what i have to tell but on i faithful day as i was browsing i came arose a testimony of a woman whose problem was more than mine and yet DOCTOR MOMODU helped her with his spell so i was happy and also contacted DOCTOR MOMODU for help via email drmomoduspelltemple @ hotmail.com and then told him my story but the only thing he said was that i will wipe you tear with my spell so lucky for me everything want well just as he promised and right now i have got my fiance back and we are both living happily. there is nothing DOCTOR MOMODU can not do with is spell and just as promise my self i will keep testifying on the internet of how DOCTOR MOMODU helped me. Are your problem greater that mine or less i give you 100% guarantee that DOCTOR MOMODU will put an end to it with his powerful spell, contact DOCTOR MOMODU for help Via email [drmomoduspelltemple @ hotmail.com or drmomoduspelltemple @ yahool. com] his telephone number is +1(731) 472-1887

Lena Jose said...

Hello my name Lena i want to testify of a mighty and great spell caster called Priest Ade,I had difficulties getting pregnant due to chronic medical illness this got me so worried and sad my husband wasn't happy with it and one night he came back home angry he told me he wanted to be a father and since i couldn't make him that he has decided to marry someone else and divorce me i was devastated and cried all night was afraid i would end up in the hospital kept thinking about the good times we had together and how much i was going to miss him, i was looking for something online when a message pooped up concerning this great spell caster and how he have helped so many in similar problems i thought about it for some time and decided to give him a try when i contacted him he told me that after 24 hrs my husband will be back and i will be pregnant i did everything he asked me to do, to my greatest surprise the next day it was my husband back home he knell down begging for forgiveness and he canceled the divorce,4 week after the doctor confirmed that i'm pregnant i'm so happy, he can help you as well contact him at

ancientspiritspellcast@yahoo.com or ancientspiritspellcast@gmail.com

Website https://ancientspiritspellcast.wordpress.com

WhatsApp +2347059715465

OGUDUGU SPELL CASTER said...

Hello,

I'm Dr Ogudugu a real and genuine spell caster with years of experience in spell casting and an expert in all spells, i specialize exclusively in LOVE SPELL/GET YOUR EX LOVER BACK, FRUIT OF THE WOMB SPELL, HIV CURE SPELL, BECOMING A MERMAID SPELL, BECOMING A VAMPIRE SPELL, SAVE CHILD BIRTH SPELL. If you have any problem and you need a real and genuine spell caster to solve your problems, contact me now through my personal Email Address...Note-you can also Call and WhatsApp.

Contact me -
Email: greatogudugu@gmail.com
Phone No: +2348139793075
WhatsApp No: +2348139793075

Dora Judy said...

My Name is Dora Judy i want to tell you all my life story about A Spell Caster Who help me to get pregnant, So me and my husband have been trying to get a baby for the last 10 years now and we have had no luck. I don't have a regular cycle so it is hard for me to tell when I'm ovulating or not, but we always have sex at least 3 times a week, sometimes more. I know it can take up to a year to conceive but everyone i know who have had a baby have conceived within 2-3months of trying and it is really hurting to me. my husband had a fertility test about a year ago and his sperm were fine. I'm thinking it could be a problem with me but I've never had any symptoms of any problems. My husband does smoke and have the occasional Priest ink, and i used to smoke and also have the occasional Priest ink. i know i'm slightly overweight but that shouldn't affect our chances too much, one faithful day my friend told me about Dr Sam and told me to contact this spell caster that help her aunty, then i contact the man on this email: Supremespellcast@gmail.com, after three months the doctor confirm that i am pregnant thank you Dr Sam for helping me get a baby, I am thankful for all he has done. contact him via email: {Supremespellcast@gmail.com Or Supremespellcast@yahoo.com} whatsapp him on +2347087462033 and he will also save your marriage or your relationship problems.

You can read more about him on his website and contact him: http://supremespellcast.website2.me
Name: Dora Judy
Country: USA

Lisa. Donna. said...

REAL ONLINE LOVE SPELL CASTER BROUGHT BACK MY EX LOVER he can do it for you too so email him on supernaturalspell@yahoo.com or whatsapp him +2348124644470
Hello everyone i know there is someone somewhere reading this,My name is lisa donna from USA,I want to share a great work of a spell caster called PRIEST WISDOM my husband and i had a fight which led to our divorce but when he left me a part of me left with him and i was to sad and cried all day and night i was searching something online when i saw people testifying about his great work and i just decided to give him a try i did everything he told me to do and he assured me that after 24 hours my husband will come back to me,the next morning to my greatest surprised a car stopped outside my house and it was my husband i'm so happy he can also help you email him at supernaturalspell@yahoo.com or whatsapp him +2348124644470 ... OR VIEW THIS https://lettalaabourtrelationship.blogspot.com

secxevic pusken alexsander said...

Hi everybody!
Does your phone have new and attractive ring tones? Today I will share with you the best ringtone by 2018. Hot Ringtones. Ringtones are attractive. You can find and view instructions for setting up phone ringtones here: https://ringtonedownload.in/

These are the five most downloaded ringtones in 2018:

- Mere Dil Ko Tere Dil Ki Zarurat Hai ringtone download
- Let Me Love You ringtone download