Did You Know?

Adriana Ferrarese Kings Theatre 1785

This is Addie Appelbaum, incoming SPOG Vice-President of Programming.

Although we are in the midst of the Chinese COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the SPO is looking to the future and planning to present two operas in 2021. The first is Mozart’s masterpiece Cosi fan Tutte-scheduled for January/February 2021.

As an opera historian, I’ve always been fascinated by the back stories of operas, and here’s one on Cosi:

Mozart’s rival Antonio Salieri tried to set the libretto of Cosi to music … and failed miserably. Malicious Mozart called on his finest librettist-Lorenzo da Ponte-to pen the witty and sarcastic story, which inspired Mozart to compose one of his greatest scores.

Da Ponte didn’t have a very high opinion of women, so he translated Cosi fan Tutte into “women are like this” aka … women are fickle. Mozart loved it.

But there was trouble coming … Mozart had a low opinion of Da Ponte’s prima donna mistress, soprano Adrianna Ferranese, the original Fiordiligi. So … knowing that she had to drop her chin on low notes, and throw back her chin on high notes, Mozart created her show-stopping aria “Come scoglio” with constant leaps from high to low and low to high notes. The result: Ferranese’s head bobbed up and down like a drunken chicken, causing the audience to howl with laughter at the opera’s premiere on January 26, 1790. Mozart snickered, Da Ponte snarled and Ferranese fumed!

Coming in the next newsletter: Mozart and da Ponte’s take on “fiancée swapping”!