Reason and Desire, Education and Regression: Aspects of Rousseauist Gender Roles in Così fan tutte
Master of Music thesis
Mozart's opera Così fan tutte encapsulates various theories of Enlightenment sexual expression and presents a didactic program aiming at appropriate male comportment in a love situation. Through various musical devices, Mozart establishes ideal Rousseauist gender characteristics and their debased forms, and applies them to the respective sexes as evidence of weakened or enlightened states. Mozart also provides an educative voice in the character of Don Alfonso, whose musical lines are appropriately instructive. An exploration of sexual ideals in the Enlightenment as expressed in contemporary texts and civil documents will provide a framework for Rousseau's theories of education and gender formation as postulated in Emile, ou de l'education and Sophie, ou la Nouvelle Héloïse. A musical analysis of several numbers in Cosi demonstrates the unfolding weaknesses of the characters. While the men progress towards an enlightened education in the natures of the sexes, the women undergo a regression of character.