Advertisement

Must We Mean What We Sing?—Così Fan Tutte and the Lease of Voice

Ci vuol filosofia—Don Alfonso
  • Ian Ground
Chapter
Part of the Philosophers in Depth book series (PID)

Abstract

Cavell writes about opera as a medium in which the sceptical threat to the meaning of what we say is rescued by music. Curiously, despite passing references to Don Giovanni and Le nozze di Figaro, Cosi fan tutte escaped his direct attention. Yet of all the three Mozart/Da Ponte collaborations, it is Cosi which most intricately examines Cavellian themes of scepticism, sincerity and alienation as well as, notoriously, deploying incongruities between voice, action and music in pursuit of its ethical purpose. Moreover, the opera features a philosopher in active pursuit of a project to “epistemologize” human relationships and, in more recent years, has attracted direct philosophical inquiry. In this essay, I argue that Cosi fan tutte is the most Cavellian of operas and a fitting arena in which to test Cavell’s thought against rival accounts of his central themes.

References

  1. Barry, Barbara R. 2000. The Philosopher’s Stone: Essays in the Transformation of Musical Structure. Pendragon Press.Google Scholar
  2. Brown-Montesano, Kristi. 2007. Understanding the Women of Mozart’s Operas. Berkeley: University of California Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Burnham, Scott. 1994. Mozart’s “Felix Culpa: Così Fan Tutte” and the Irony of Beauty. The Musical Quarterly 78 (1): 77–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cavell, Stanley. 1996. A Pitch of Philosophy. Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  5. ———. 1999. The Claim of Reason: Wittgenstein, Skepticism, Morality, and Tragedy. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. ———. 2002. Must We Mean What We Say?: A Book of Essays. Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  7. ———. 2005. “Opera in (and as) Film” (2005). In Cavell on Film, ed. William Rothman. SUNY Series, Horizons of Cinema.Google Scholar
  8. Clement, Catherine. 1999. Opera, Or, The Undoing of Women. University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  9. Cohen, Hermann. 1915. Die Dramatische Idee in Mozarts Operntexten. http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/webbin/book/lookupid?key=ha006675114.
  10. Così Fan Tutte—Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart—Libretto in Italian with Translation in English—OperaFolio.Com. Accessed 4 March 2018. http://www.operafolio.com/libretto.asp?n=Cosi_fan_tutte&print=y&translation=UK.Google Scholar
  11. Ford, Charles. 1991. Così?: Sexual Politics in Mozart’s Operas. Manchester University Press.Google Scholar
  12. ———. 2016. Music, Sexuality and the Enlightenment in Mozart’s Figaro, Don Giovanni and Così Fan Tutte. Routledge.Google Scholar
  13. Gombrich, E.H. 1954. Così Fan Tutte (Procris Included). Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 17 (3/4): 372–374.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hagberg, Garry L. 2006. Describing Ourselves: Wittgenstein and Autobiographical Consciousness. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Hensher, Philip. 2009. School for Lovers. The Guardian, May 23, sec. Music. https://www.theguardian.com/music/2009/may/23/mozart-da-ponte-cosi-fan-tutte.
  16. Honderich, Ted. 2005. The Oxford Companion to Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Hytner, Nicholas. 2007. Mozart: Cosi Fan Tutte. Opus Arte.Google Scholar
  18. Jochnowitz, George. 2018. Reconsidering Così Fan Tutte. Accessed 17 February 2018. https://www.jochnowitz.net/Essays/ReconsideringCosiFanTutte.html.
  19. ———. 2007. The Blessed Human Race: Essays on Reconsideration. Hamilton Books.Google Scholar
  20. Kerman, Joseph. 1988. Opera as Drama, New and Revised Edition. University of California Press.Google Scholar
  21. Kettle, Martin. 2018. Why Do Women Die in Opera?, Music Feature—BBC Radio 3. BBC. Accessed 17 February 2018. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00sw2p7.
  22. Kivy, Peter. 1988. Osmin’s Rage: Philosophical Reflections on Opera, Drama, and Text. Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Leudar, I., and A. Costall, eds. 2009. Against Theory of Mind. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  24. Molleson, Kate. 2016. Così Fan Tutte Review—Mozart’s Frothy Opera Turns Nasty. The Guardian, August 26. http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2016/aug/26/cosi-fan-tutte-review-edinburgh-festival-theatre-mozart-cape-town-opera.
  25. Mulhall, Stephen. 1994. Stanley Cavell: Philosophy’s Recounting of the Ordinary. Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  26. Said, Edward. 2008. Peter Sellars’s Mozart. In Music at the Limits, 87–90. Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Steptoe, Andrew. 1981. The Sources of “Così Fan Tutte”: A Reappraisal. Music & Letters 62 (3/4): 281–294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Wagner, Richard. 1900. Opera and Drama. University of Nebraska Press.Google Scholar
  29. Williams, Bernard. 2006. On Opera. Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Wittgenstein, Ludwig. 1983. Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics. Rev. ed. The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  31. ———. 1991. Philosophical Investigations: The German Text, with a revised English Translation 50th Anniversary Commemorative Edition. Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
  32. ———. 1999. Wiener Ausgabe Studien Texte: Band 1: Philosophische Bemerkungen. Vienna: Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar
  33. Zalman, Paige. 2016. Critical Perspectives: Women’s and Gender Studies. Così Fan Tutte in Context (blog), April 20. https://cosiincontext.wordpress.com/critical-perspectives-womens-and-gender-studies/.
  34. Žižek, Slavoj. 2005. The Metastases of Enjoyment: Six Essays on Women and Causality. Verso.Google Scholar
  35. Žižek, Slavoj, and Mladen Dolar. 2002. Opera’s Second Death. Psychology Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ian Ground
    • 1
  1. 1.University of HertfordshireHatfieldUK

Personalised recommendations