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from Act II, Scene I of the Italian opera Così fan tutte by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Libretto: Lorenzo da Ponte

Role: Despina, the serving maid of Dorabella and Fiordiligi
Voice Part: soprano       Fach: soubrette
Setting: the dressing room of Dorabella and Fiordiligi
Synopsis: After encouraging the sisters to have the Albanians back to their house, Despina sings this aria, saying that a girl of fifteen should know how to flirt successfully. She should be able to lead on any man and lie when needed.
Range: Tessitura:
D4 - B5D4 - G5
Translations/Aria Texts:
Translation into English by Naomi Gurt Lind (added 1997-04-21)
Una donna a quindici anni     --      Despina's aria from "Cosi fan tutte"

Una donna a quindici anni 		A woman of 15 years
De'e saper ogni gran moda		Must know all the good methods,
Dove il diavolo ha la coda		Where the devil keeps his tail,
Cosa e bene, e mal cos'e.		What's good and what's bad.
De'e saper le maliziette		She must know the little malices
Che innamorano gli amanti		That enamour lovers:
Finger riso, finger pianti		To feign laughter, to feign tears,
Inventar i bei perche.		        And invent good reasons.

De'e in un momento dar retta a cento	She must pay attention to a hundred at a time
Colle pupille parlar con mille		Speak through her eyes with a thousand
Dar speme a tutti, sien belli o brutti,	Give hope to all, be they handsome or ugly,
Saper nascondersi senza confondersi,	Know how to obfuscate without getting confused
Senz'arrossire saper mentire.		And know how to lie without blushing.
E qual regina dall'alto soglio		And this queen from her high throne
Col posso e voglio farsi ubbidir.	Can make them obey with, "I can," and "I want."
(Par ch'abbian gusto di tal dottrina,	(It seems they like this doctrine,
Viva Despina che sa servir!)		Long live Despina, who knows how to serve!)
					["Serve" is meant with a double meaning:
          				Literally, Despina is a servant; plus, she is 				
                                     	dishing up some salty advice.]

Text by Lorenzo da Ponte
Translation by Naomi Gurt Lind
Sheet Music/Scores:
The Ultimate Soprano Aria Album (Version 2.0). Published by CD Sheet Music. Available at and
Prima Donna's Album. Published by G. Schirmer. Available at and
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