Così fan tutte, ossia La scuola degli amanti (All women do thus, or The school for Lovers) was the last and least of the three operas Mozart composed in partnership with librettist Lorenzo da Ponte, with whom he had already produced The Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni.
Così is a comedy in which an experienced cynic convinces two young men that all women are faithless by having each of them disguise himself as an Albanian and woo the other's fiancée. Completed in late 1789, it enjoyed a brief success in the Imperial Theater before Emperor Joseph II died in February 1790. This was bad news for the arts (da Ponte wrote that "Joseph had an exquisite taste in music, as indeed he had in all the arts"), and particularly bad news for a farcical comedy which was in many ways a parody of opera, since Joseph's successor discouraged comedy in the Imperial Theater.
The Così Overture is a slow introduction followed by a whirling allegro. The five-note cadential figure that the orchestra pounds out just before the allegro starts, and which the allegro pauses to recall, accompanies the pronouncement "così fan tutte!" - both title and motto - late in the opera.