Fidelity, Infidelity and Love
According to Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte, the issue of fidelity is depicted to be an ideal that is never achieved. Since ‘women are like that’ – the interpretation of ‘Cosi Fan Tutte’, Mozart encourages the belief that men should simply accept that women are indeed disloyal in relationships. Nowra illustrates this same idea about women and infidelity through Lewis and Lucy’s relationship. While Lucy is ‘sleeping with Lewis, she is also ‘having sex’ with Nick. When Lewis discovers Lucy’s betrayal, she waves aside his shock, defending that ‘it is not as if we’re married’. The revelation does indeed prove that Cosi Fan Tutte is correct in stating that ‘woman’s constancy is like the Arabian Phoenix. Everyone swears it exists, but no one has seen it’.
Although the women in both Cosi Fan Tutte and Cosi are shown to be unfaithful, so are the men. While the men in Cosi Fan Tutte do not actively participate in adultery, they do fabricate their departure to the war and disguise themselves as ‘Albanians’. Their deception is also a betrayal to their wives. Meanwhile, Don Alfonso manipulates everyone. As seen in Cosi, Lewis is unfaithful to Lucy as he kisses Julie during rehearsals. Julie later reveals that she has a girlfriend who she would prefer to be with, confirming that both men and women are unfaithful in relationships, not simply women.
In the 1970’s, when the Vietnam War was occurring and there were a number of corrupt political systems throughout the world, the notion of love and fidelity was considered to be of less importance than ‘bread, a shelter, equality, health, procreation and money’.
Love is not just the central theme of the opera, but also the central theme of Cosi. The particular aspect of love that is the focus of both musical and play is fidelity: the notion of faithfulness, commitment and loyalty. The play explores many aspects of the theme of love and fidelity, and the characters present slightly different perspectives, by giving us opinions on what love is; whether fidelity is important or even possible; and what love actually means to them. Some of the characters are firm about their positions from start to finish, and others change their mind or develop differing perspectives along the way. Not only each character, but also each scene offers a new interpretation of this theme. In this way, Nowra’s play considers the ideas of love and fidelity, without necessarily offering definitive opinions. Instead Cosi presents a variety of social values and perspectives associated with love and fidelity. For example Nick and Lucy view love as an indulgence. They believe that other social and political issues are much more important than love. Although Nick and Lucy are having a relationship, it seems to have more to do with shared politics and sex than it does with love. When she admits her affair to Lewis, she justifies it by saying that ‘it’s only a fling. It doesn’t mean anything...I have sex with him and sleep with you’. Although the play, through Lucy and Nick, strongly presents an argument for the fact that love should be secondary to basic human needs, at the same time it supports the notion that love is a universal experience to which we can all relate.
The concept of free love is another side of love that Cosi explores. Free love is a philosophy of individual’s rights to freedom in how they choose to engage in romantic relationships, as opposed to relationships that are regulated by convention or imposed by society. (Explored through Doug and Nick)
- ‘It’s only a fling, it doesn’t mean anything. I have sex with him and sleep with you’ - ‘Lucy’s not possessive about you, and I’m not possessive about her’ - ‘You want to remain true to your lovers. It’s an old fashion concept, granted’ - ‘A woman’s constancy is like the Arabian Phoenix. Everyone swears that it exists, but they have never actually seen it’ - ‘Love is not so...
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