This is a full-length, scholarly study of what is widely regarded as Mozart's most enigmatic opera and Lorenzo Da Ponte's most erudite text. Against the long-standing judgement that the opera uses a misguided confidence in reason to traduce feeling, Goehring's study shows how Cosi affirms comedy's regenerative powers and its capacity to grant access to modes of sympathy and understanding that are otherwise inaccessible. In making this argument, the book surveys a rich literary, operatic and intellectual territory. It offers fresh perspective on the relationships between text and tone in the opera, on the tension between comedy and philosophy and its representation in stage works and on the pastoral mode which the opera uses in subtle ways. Throughout, Goehring's argument is sustained by close readings of primary sources, many of them little known, and is richly illustrated with musical examples.

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