Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro
(The Marriage of Figaro, 1786)
Friday April 28th
Comedy of manners, or revolution in
Le nozze di Figaro – ossia la folle giornata (Figaro's
wedding or the Mad Day) is the first of the three
brilliant collaborations between Wolfgang
Amadeus Mozart and Lorenzo Da Ponte. It was
also the riskiest. “The Marriage of Figaro is one of
the few examples of a successful literary sequel.”
(NPR) It’s also a triumph of creative censorship,
diluted byDa Ponte before it could be produced
in Vienna. “Da Ponte’s cuts ensured that
generations of future opera goers would view
Figaro merely as a pleasant comedy of manners,
not the caustic revolutionary vehicle of
Beaumarchais.” Here’s the history from
musicologist Sherwood Dudley, who produced a
restored version of The Marriage of Figaro.
Music first, and real people
'In opera', wrote Mozart, 'the poetry must be the
obedient daughter of the music. The best thing is when
a good composer, who understands the stage enough to
make sound suggestions, meets an able poet, that true
Together, Mozart and Da Ponte changed the whole
direction of the operatic form. Early operas had been
based on myth and told stories of heroes, gods and
goddesses. Here Da Ponte shows us real people in real
situations, attempting – as he said – 'to paint faithfully
and in full colour the diverse passions that are aroused'.
Our Productions, and others to view
We’ll compare two very different productions!
Glyndebourne 1994. Gerald Finley is Figaro
and Renée Fleming the Countess. Classical.net
says she is “brilliant throughout, her voice utterly
disarming in its creamy tones and soaring beauty”
From Netherlands Opera a very different
production in 2006, set in a car showroom.
Danielle de Niese is Susanna.
Figaro is the opera for wonderful baritones,
sopranos and trouser role mezzos. There’s a full
opera version with Bryn Terfel here. There is
another Glyndebourne Figaro from 1973 with Kiri
te Kanawa as the Countess. Watch the whole show
And there is full opera recording of a classic 1976
Vienna production: Hermann Prey (Figaro),
Mirella Freni (Susanna) and Dietrich Fischer-
Dieskau (he count) and Kiri Te Kanawa
(Countess). Maria Ewing is the best Cherubino.