Soave sia il vento by Mozart

Where does the title Così fan tutte come from?

Mozart’s librettist, Lorenzo da Ponte, had earlier used the line “Così fan tutte le belle” in Le Nozze di Figaro (it comes from Don Basilio’s sarcastic remark), although the theme of fiancée swapping dates back to the thirteenth century, with notable earlier versions being those of Boccaccio’s Decameron and Shakespeare’s play Cymbeline. Elements from Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew are also present. Furthermore, it incorporates elements of the myth of Procris as found in Ovid. Mozart himself got his own wife, Constanze, on the rebound from one of her sisters, Aloysia, who may have inspired many of the characters in Mozart’s operas. Mozart and Constanze Weber met in 1777 in Mannheim. When Mozart met the family again in Vienna in 1781, Aloysia showed no interest in Mozart and married Lange, an actor, though it is rumoured that she regretted this decision years later. Mozart lived with the Weber family for a time, though he left due to rumours about their relationship.

Lorenzo da Ponte, born Emanuele Conegliano, was an Italian librettist and poet born in Ceneda (now Vittorio Veneto). Conegliano was Jewish by birth. When he, his father, and siblings converted to the Catholic faith, he took the name Lorenzo da Ponte, the name of the bishop of Ceneda who administered the baptism. Still later, he studied to be a teacher and was ordained a Catholic priest. However, unable to conduct himself in a manner befitting either profession, he was banned from both fields, and later exiled from Venice. When he met Mozart in Vienna, they had a discussion in Franziskanerplatz, where da Ponte confided that “così fan tutte le belle”, a sentiment which they then set to music.

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