Nicholas Hytner's production of Così fan Tutte explores the "effect of the strength of desires," thanks to its aesthetic which enhances the seduction at work in the opera.
As the opera opens, Ferrando and Guglielmo want to prove each other that their fiancées, the two sisters Dorabella and Fiordiligi are faithful and would never betray their love. Don Alfonso, the cynical philosopher, assures them that all women act alike and cannot be trusted. The two of them take the challenge and accept Alfonso's dangerous conditions. They pretend to go to war and come back to the young girls as strangers to seduce them and test their loyalty.
While the two sisters lament upon their lovers' absence, the maid Despina talks them into enjoying life with the other men available. The young girls gradually yield to their wooers' compliments but each one prefer their sister's lovers. Ferrando's fiancée Dorabella falls for Guglielmo, where as Fiordiligi remains faithful, which triggers a competition between the two male friends…
Così fan Tutte, or the School for Lovers is a drama giocoso commissioned by Emperor Joseph II. It is based on the original libretto by Da Ponte and marks the last piece of the composer's collaboration with the librettist after Le nozze di Figaro and Don Giovanni. It shows how human nature can be fickle and fragile. According to Iván Fisher, the music director of this production, the opera tells us that "we are all seducible, and it is something which is forgivable, which has to be forgiven."