Mozart – Aria: “Come scoglio” from Così Fan Tutte

by Max Derrickson

Aria: “Come scoglio” from Così Fan Tutte

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
(Born in Salzburg in 1756; died in Vienna in 1791)


The composer-librettist relationship between Mozart and da Ponte culminated in this great opera. In some ways it is so sophisticated that it occasionally threw listeners off, and it still can.  The libretto is rife with ambiguity and complexities – does Fiordiligi, for example, really feel contrite at the end when her near unfaithfulness is exposed (along with Dorabella’s)?  Another example is Don Alphonso’s musical presence         [. . .]  The fact that the two gentlemen, Ferrando and Guglielmo, try to seduce the other’s sweetheart was certainly risqué in Mozart’s day, perhaps even today.  The content indeed leaves a listener guessing.

Mozart’s music is the perfect complement to da Ponte’s libretto.  Indeed, the libretto is not as potent without Mozart’s music and vice-versa.  For all its fun it’s a perplexing masterpiece: Mozart’s score sparkles at times when more pensive music would be appropriate, and  [. . .]  Since its revival in the 20th Century, Così fan tutte has made listeners delighted and yet feel like there was something deeply troubling going on.  Of course this was all by design, [. . .]

One splendid example of this bi-polar, humorous, and extraordinary music is “Come scoglio” (“Like a rock”) in Act I sung by Fiordiligi, Ferrando’s lover.  Don Alphonso has arranged for Fiordiligi and Dorabella to believe that Ferrando and Guglielmo have been called off to war suddenly.  Then, dressed in disguise as two “Albanians,” the young men return and begin wooing the two sisters.  Fiordiligi, at least initially, will have nothing of it, and crows about her own fortitude.

Mozart begins the aria with an almost martial [. . .]  The aria switches between these two types of music with a kind of over-the-top drama.  It’s a great example of the type of opera-stopping solos [. . .]  “Come scoglio” is definitely one of Mozart’s greatest hits.


Italian text
Come scoglio immoto resta
Contro i venti e la tempesta,
Così ognor quest’alma è forte
Nella fede e nell’amor.

Con noi nacque quella face
Che ci piace, e ci consola,
E potrà la morte sola
Far che cangi affetto il cor.

Rispettate, anime ingrate,
Quest’esempio di costanza;
E una barbara speranza
Non vi renda audaci ancor!