Credit: Cory Weaver

What, in the age of #MeToo, would make it worthwhile to sit through three and a half hours of two scheming men’s attempts to get two young women to succumb to their slapstick advances? Especially when those men are their own boyfriends, masquerading as strangers to test their fidelity—and to win a bet?

Mozart! He took librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte’s farcical women-will-cheat story line for Così Fan Tutte (which roughly translates as “All Women Do”) and loaded it with beautiful duets, trios, and sextets.

Lyric Opera’s current production features soprano Marianne Crebassa in the role of Dorabella, the more willing of the two ingenues. This gleaming-voiced mezzo-soprano was a standout in a small part in Romeo and Juliet at Lyric two seasons ago, and she’s wonderful again here, in a role that lets us hear much more from her. Among its other pleasures: a newcomer to American stages, Russian soprano Elena Tsallagova as the streetwise maid Despina, and comic baritone Alessandro Corbelli as Don Alfonso, the “older-and-wiser” troublemaker behind the bet.

Soprano Ana María Martínez as Fiordiligi, the reluctant cheater is, as always, an appealing stage presence. Andrew Stenson displays his fine tenor as her would-be seducer Ferrando, while baritone Joshua Hopkins gets it on nicely with Dorabella. James Gaffigan conducts.

This production, originally directed by John Cox, moves the setting up from the 18th century to a seaside resort at the start of World War I, introducing a heavy, real-world backdrop to an otherwise broadly comic fantasy-farce. If it still works, it’s because while the ostensible subject is women’s constancy, the real subject has always been the full scope of human nature. That, and the music.

In Italian, with English supertitles.

Through 3/16: Wed 2/21 and Mon 2/26, 7:30 PM; Sun 3/4 and Thu 3/8, 2 PM; Tue 3/13 and Fri 3/16, 7:30 PM, Lyric Opera House, 20 N. Wacker, 312-827-5600,, $17-$319.