Here are five facts to know about The Marriage of Figaro Le Nozze di Figaro , one of the greatest operas ever written. You must be logged in to post a comment. Skip to content. It is the second play in the Figaro trilogy.
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It premiered at the Burgtheater in Vienna on 1 May It tells how the servants Figaro and Susanna succeed in getting married, foiling the efforts of their philandering employer Count Almaviva to seduce Susanna and teaching him a lesson in fidelity. The opera is a cornerstone of the repertoire and appears consistently among the top ten in the Operabase list of most frequently performed operas. Beaumarchais's earlier play The Barber of Seville had already made a successful transition to opera in a version by Paisiello.
Beaumarchais's Mariage de Figaro was at first banned in Vienna; Emperor Joseph II stated that "since the piece contains much that is objectionable, I therefore expect that the Censor shall either reject it altogether, or at any rate have such alterations made in it that he shall be responsible for the performance of this play and for the impression it may make", after which the Austrian Censor duly forbade performing the German version of the play.
It was Mozart who originally selected Beaumarchais's play and brought it to Da Ponte, who turned it into a libretto in six weeks, rewriting it in poetic Italian and removing all of the original's political references. In particular, Da Ponte replaced Figaro's climactic speech against inherited nobility with an equally angry aria against unfaithful wives.
The Imperial Italian opera company paid Mozart florins for the work;  this was three times his low yearly salary when he had worked as a court musician in Salzburg. Figaro premiered at the Burgtheater in Vienna on 1 May , with a cast listed in the " Roles " section below. Mozart himself conducted the first two performances, conducting seated at the keyboard, the custom of the day. Later performances were conducted by Joseph Weigl. Although the total of nine performances was nothing like the frequency of performance of Mozart's later success, The Magic Flute , which for months was performed roughly every other day,  the premiere is generally judged to have been a success.
The applause of the audience on the first night resulted in five numbers being encored , seven on 8 May. To prevent the excessive duration of operas, without however prejudicing the fame often sought by opera singers from the repetition of vocal pieces, I deem the enclosed notice to the public that no piece for more than a single voice is to be repeated to be the most reasonable expedient. You will therefore cause some posters to this effect to be printed.
The requested posters were printed up and posted in the Burgtheater in time for the third performance on 24 May. The newspaper Wiener Realzeitung carried a review of the opera in its issue of 11 July It alludes to interference probably produced by paid hecklers, but praises the work warmly:.
Mozart's music was generally admired by connoisseurs already at the first performance, if I except only those whose self-love and conceit will not allow them to find merit in anything not written by themselves. The public , however It heard many a bravo from unbiased connoisseurs, but obstreperous louts in the uppermost storey exerted their hired lungs with all their might to deafen singers and audience alike with their St!
Apart from that, it is true that the first performance was none of the best, owing to the difficulties of the composition. But now, after several performances, one would be subscribing either to the cabal or to tastelessness if one were to maintain that Herr Mozart's music is anything but a masterpiece of art.
It contains so many beauties, and such a wealth of ideas, as can be drawn only from the source of innate genius. The Hungarian poet Ferenc Kazinczy was in the audience for a May performance, and later remembered the powerful impression the work made on him:. Where could words be found that are worthy to describe such joy?
Joseph Haydn appreciated the opera greatly, writing to a friend that he heard it in his dreams. The Emperor requested a special performance at his palace theater in Laxenburg , which took place in June The opera was produced in Prague starting in December by the Pasquale Bondini company. This production was a tremendous success; the newspaper Prager Oberpostamtszeitung called the work "a masterpiece",  and said "no piece for everyone here asserts has ever caused such a sensation.
The work was not performed in Vienna during or , but starting in there was a revival production. To replace " Deh vieni " he wrote " Al desio di chi t'adora " — "[come and fly] To the desire of [the one] who adores you" K. The voice types which appear in this table are those listed in the critical edition published in the Neue Mozart-Ausgabe. Rosina is now the Countess; Dr. Bartolo is seeking revenge against Figaro for thwarting his plans to marry Rosina himself; and Count Almaviva has degenerated from the romantic youth of Barber into a scheming, bullying, skirt-chasing baritone.
Having gratefully given Figaro a job as head of his servant-staff, he is now persistently trying to exercise his droit du seigneur — his right to bed a servant girl on her wedding night — with Figaro's bride-to-be, Susanna, who is the Countess's maid. He keeps finding excuses to delay the civil part of the wedding of his two servants, which is arranged for this very day. Figaro, Susanna, and the Countess conspire to embarrass the Count and expose his scheming.
He retaliates by trying to compel Figaro legally to marry a woman old enough to be his mother, but it turns out at the last minute that she really is his mother. Through Figaro's and Susanna's clever manipulations, the Count's love for his Countess is finally restored. The overture is in the key of D major ; the tempo marking is presto ; i. The work is well known and often played independently as a concert piece.
Figaro happily measures the space where the bridal bed will fit while Susanna tries on her wedding bonnet in front of a mirror in the present day, a more traditional French floral wreath or a modern veil are often substituted, often in combination with a bonnet, so as to accommodate what Susanna happily describes as her wedding cappellino. Duet: " Cinque, dieci, venti " — "Five, ten, twenty". Figaro is quite pleased with their new room; Susanna far less so Duettino: " Se a caso madama la notte ti chiama " — "If the Countess should call you during the night".
She is bothered by its proximity to the Count's chambers: it seems he has been making advances toward her and plans on exercising his droit du seigneur , the purported feudal right of a lord to bed a servant girl on her wedding night before her husband can sleep with her. The Count had the right abolished when he married Rosina, but he now wants to reinstate it.
The Countess rings for Susanna and she rushes off to answer. Figaro, confident in his own resourcefulness, resolves to outwit the Count Cavatina : " Se vuol ballare signor contino" — "If you want to dance, sir count". Figaro departs, and Dr. Bartolo arrives with Marcellina, his old housekeeper. Figaro had previously borrowed a large sum of money from her, and, in lieu of collateral, had promised to marry her if unable to repay at the appointed time; she now intends to enforce that promise by suing him.
Bartolo, seeking revenge against Figaro for having facilitated the union of the Count and Rosina in The Barber of Seville , agrees to represent Marcellina pro bono , and assures her, in comical lawyer-speak, that he can win the case for her aria: " La vendetta " — "Vengeance". Bartolo departs, Susanna returns, and Marcellina and Susanna exchange very politely delivered sarcastic insults duet: " Via resti servita, madama brillante " — "After you, brilliant madam".
Susanna triumphs in the exchange by congratulating her rival on her impressive age. The older woman departs in a fury. It seems the Count is angry with Cherubino's amorous ways, having discovered him with the gardener's daughter, Barbarina, and plans to punish him.
Cherubino wants Susanna to ask the Countess to intercede on his behalf. When the Count appears, Cherubino hides behind a chair, not wanting to be seen alone with Susanna.
The Count uses the opportunity of finding Susanna alone to step up his demands for favours from her, including financial inducements to sell herself to him. As Basilio, the music teacher, arrives, the Count, not wanting to be caught alone with Susanna, hides behind the chair.
Cherubino leaves that hiding place just in time, and jumps onto the chair while Susanna scrambles to cover him with a dress. When Basilio starts to gossip about Cherubino's obvious attraction to the Countess, the Count angrily leaps from his hiding place terzetto: " Cosa sento! He disparages the "absent" page's incessant flirting and describes how he caught him with Barbarina under the kitchen table.
As he lifts the dress from the chair to illustrate how he lifted the tablecloth to expose Cherubino, he finds The count is furious, but is reminded that the page overheard the Count's advances on Susanna, something that the Count wants to keep from the Countess.
The young man is ultimately saved from punishment by the entrance of the peasants of the Count's estate, a preemptive attempt by Figaro to commit the Count to a formal gesture symbolizing his promise that Susanna would enter into the marriage unsullied. The Count evades Figaro's plan by postponing the gesture. The Count says that he forgives Cherubino, but he dispatches him to his own regiment in Seville for army duty, effective immediately.
A handsome room with an alcove, a dressing room on the left, a door in the background leading to the servants' quarters and a window at the side. The Countess laments her husband's infidelity aria: "Porgi, amor, qualche ristoro" — "Grant, love, some comfort". Susanna comes in to prepare the Countess for the day. She responds to the Countess's questions by telling her that the Count is not trying to seduce her; he is merely offering her a monetary contract in return for her affection.
Figaro enters and explains his plan to distract the Count with anonymous letters warning him of adulterers. He has already sent one to the Count via Basilio that indicates that the Countess has a rendezvous of her own that evening. They hope that the Count will be too busy looking for imaginary adulterers to interfere with Figaro and Susanna's wedding.
Figaro additionally advises the Countess to keep Cherubino around. She should dress him up as a girl and lure the Count into an illicit rendezvous where he can be caught red-handed.
Figaro leaves. Cherubino arrives, sent in by Figaro and eager to co-operate. After the song, the Countess, seeing Cherubino's military commission, notices that the Count was in such a hurry that he forgot to seal it with his signet ring which would be necessary to make it an official document. Susanna and the Countess then begin with their plan. Susanna takes off Cherubino's cloak, and she begins to comb his hair and teach him to behave and walk like a woman aria of Susanna: "Venite, inginocchiatevi" — "Come, kneel down before me".
Then she leaves the room through a door at the back to get the dress for Cherubino, taking his cloak with her. While the Countess and Cherubino are waiting for Susanna to come back, they suddenly hear the Count arriving. Cherubino hides in the closet. The Count demands to be allowed into the room and the Countess reluctantly unlocks the door. The Count enters and hears a noise from the closet.
He tries to open it, but it is locked. The Countess tells him it is only Susanna, trying on her wedding dress. At this moment, Susanna re-enters unobserved, quickly realizes what's going on, and hides behind a couch Trio: "Susanna, or via, sortite" — "Susanna, come out!
The Count shouts for her to identify herself by her voice, but the Countess orders her to be silent. Furious and suspicious, the Count leaves, with the Countess, in search of tools to force the closet door open.
As they leave, he locks all the bedroom doors to prevent the intruder from escaping. Cherubino and Susanna emerge from their hiding places, and Cherubino escapes by jumping through the window into the garden.
Susanna then takes Cherubino's former place in the closet, vowing to make the Count look foolish duet: "Aprite, presto, aprite" — "Open the door, quickly! The Count and Countess return. The Countess, thinking herself trapped, desperately admits that Cherubino is hidden in the closet.
The enraged Count draws his sword, promising to kill Cherubino on the spot, but when the door is opened, they both find to their astonishment only Susanna Finale: "Esci omai, garzon malnato" — "Come out of there, you ill-born boy!
Bodas Figaro: Books
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Royal Opera House
Director David McVicar brings out the revolutionary elements in Mozart's great comic opera of intrigue, misunderstanding and forgiveness. There are currently no scheduled performances of The Marriage of Figaro. Figaro and Susanna plan to get married - but their master Count Almaviva has designs on Susanna and is determined to stop the wedding taking place. Meanwhile the page Cherubino's passion for the ladies jeopardizes his job, and Countess Almaviva longs to regain her husband's love. This play was banned in Vienna due to its potentially seditious content, and Da Ponte had to excise much of its political content in order to get the opera accepted for performance. Figaro was a success in Vienna, and even more so in Prague, where Mozart reported 'nothing but Figaro!
Five Facts to know about Mozart and Da Ponte’s The Marriage of Figaro
In the first play, The Barber , the story begins with a simple love triangle in which a Spanish count has fallen in love with a girl called Rosine. He disguises himself to ensure that she will love him back for his character, not his wealth. But this is all foiled when Rosine's guardian, Doctor Bartholo, who wants her hand in marriage, confines her to the house. The Count runs into an ex-servant of his now a barber , Figaro, and pressures him into setting up a meeting between the Count and Rosine. He succeeds and the lovers are married to end the first part of the trilogy. The Marriage was written as a sequel to The Barber.