The Marriage of Figaro, Opera by W. A. Mozart
Opera buffa in four acts with music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Italian libretto: Lorenzo Da Ponte, based on Le mariage de Figaro, the second part of a trilogy about Figaro by Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais.
The Marriage of Figaro (Le nozze di Figaro) was performed for the first time on 1 May 1786 at the Burgtheater in Vienna and was conducted by the composer. The opera was well received by audiences in Vienna and celebrated its premiere in Prague in December of the same year. Due to its great success in Prague, Mozart was commissioned to compose another opera for the next season: Don Giovanni.
The Marriage of Figaro was already well-known in Europe. Beaumarchais’ play (1784) had already generated controversy in France with its attacks on the class system in the years before the French Revolution. Lorenzo da Ponte was therefore forced to change the dialogue when turning it into an opera libretto so that it could be performed in Vienna. Joseph II personally ordered the premiere in the face of opposition from influential circles, but had it discontinued (possibly because it proved too successful) after only a few performances. Of the opera buffa only the external formula remains. Mozart surrounded the figures with a music that eclipsed anything seen previously. Each of his figures has a strong melodic contour with even the recitatives clearly reflecting the moods and moving the listener.
The action takes place at the palace of Count Almaviva in Aguas Frescas near Seville. The opera is largely an amusing game about love played by Count Almaviva with Susanne, his wife's maid, by the page Cherubino with all women and by the elderly Marcellina with the Count’s valet, Figaro. An old tradition dictates that the feudal lord has the right to sleep with any new bride before her husband (ius primae noctis). Although Count Almaviva had abolished this custom in his territory, he now regrets having done so in view of the forthcoming marriage of the lovely maid Susanne and his valet Figaro.
Conductor: Jérémie Rhorer
Stage Direction: Jean-Louis Martinoty
Staging: Hans Schavernoch
Lighting designer: Fabrice Kebour
Costumes: Sylvie de Segonzac
Main characters and roles:
- Count Almaviva (baritone): Simon Keenlyside
- Figaro, Almaviva's valet (baritone): Luca Pisaroni
- Cherubino, Almaviva's page (soprano): Rachel Frenkel
- Antonio, Almaviva's gardener (bass)
- Countess Rosina Almaviva (soprano): Genia Kühmeier
- Doctor Bartolo (bass)
- Don Basilio, music master (tenor)
- Don Curzio, a lawyer (tenor)
- Susanna, the Countess's maid (soprano): Anita Hartig
- Marcellina, Bartolo's ex-housekeeper (contralto)
- Barbarina, Antonio's daughter (soprano)