Mozart’s comic opera Cosi Fan Tutte was shown at the Majestic last week. It’s translated, “all women are the same” implying they’re all bad – blatant sexism that this new production addressed at the end! It is said to be a true story of two sisters, each deeply in love with their fiancé. They’re each awaiting their wedding day, certain of their beloved’s faithfulness. A cynical old bachelor tells the young men that as soon as their backs are turned, the women will be flirting with other men. So it’s agreed to put it to the test. The men are apparently suddenly called away to serve in the army, but they soon return in disguise to see what will happen. Sure enough, the women are soon flirting – with their disguised fiancés. Eventually however, one of the women goes off with the other’s boyfriend. One of the women and one of the men remain faithful, but each has lost their beloved to the other’s partner. The cynical old man tells them that’s how life is and we have to get on with it. But in the end, when everything is revealed, all is forgiven; true love is restored and all is well. The twist in this production comes in the final scene. The title Cosi Fan Tutte is written in lights to remind us of the lesson of the story, but “Tutte” gradually changes to “Tutti”. It’s not just the women, it’s everyone – the men are just as bad! “All have sinned and fall short” as St Paul put it. So we all need to keep turning back and trying again, if all is to be well.
“Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds,” wrote Shakespeare (Sonnet 116). The true example of faithful love is God’s love for human beings shown by Jesus. “Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, but bears it out even to the edge of doom” continued Shakespeare. That is the love revealed in Jesus who was crucified because that’s where his love for us led him. He was betrayed by his friends, but even death could not exterminate his love. God’s love is faithful and never alters. That’s the example we need to follow if all is to be well. That’s the love that we can rely on even though we all fall short and whether or not we love in return.
The Revd Canon Christopher Ivory
King’s Lynn Minster