Local opera troupe brings Mozart’s ‘Così fan tutte’ to Iowa City

A 1790 playbill for the first performance of Mozart’s Così fan tutte.

Mozart’s Così fan tutte

Locations, dates and times of performance vary (see below)

Iowa City Concert Opera, one of eastern Iowa’s newest performing groups, will present their inaugural production this weekend: a concert version of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s well-known opera Così fan tutte.

The plot of the show — who’s title translates roughly to “So Do They All” — is filled with the timeless comedy tropes of romantic infidelity, ridiculous disguises, faked deaths and ill-conceived wagers. A pair of soldiers, Ferrando and Guglielmo, make a bet with their friend Don Alfonso, convinced that their fiancées would never be unfaithful despite Alfonso’s insistence that all women are. They fabricate a tale of being called away to war, and return in disguise to attempt to woo one another’s partners. In true romantic comedy fashion, hilarity ensues.

Così fan tutte is one of Mozart’s later operas. It premiered in Vienna in January of 1790, a little less than two years before the composer’s death. The libretto was written by Lorenzo Da Ponte, who also collaborate with Mozart on Le nozze di Figaro and Don Giovanni. Così fan tutte is a frequently performed and much-beloved opera. It has secured a place in popular culture as well, thanks in part to the 1992 play Così (made into a film in 1996) about a staging of the opera in a Melbourne, Australia mental institution.

The Iowa City Concert Opera presentation will be sung in the Italian with an English synopsis provided. The cast, an assortment of local professors, doctoral students, and professional vocalists, includes Nicholas Harbeck as Ferrando, Jacqueline Lang as Fiordiligi, Lisa Neher (Iowa City Concert Opera’s founder) as Dorabella, Jordan Pohlmann as Don Alfonso, Jessica Saunders as Despina and Mitchell Widmer as Guglielmo. Patrick Zubiate conducts, with Tony Nickle on piano.


A preview performance will take place at Oaknoll Retirement Community in Iowa City on Wednesday, Aug. 26 at 7:30 p.m. Full performances will be held Friday, Aug. 28 at 5 p.m. at the Iowa City Public Library and Saturday, Aug. 29 at 7 p.m. at the Maquoketa Art Experience. A selection of scenes will be presented at the Washington Public Library on Sunday, Aug. 30 at 2 p.m. All performances are free to the public.