The Marriage of Figaro, Opera by W. A. Mozart
The Marriage of Figaro is one of the most recognisable operas by Austrian genius composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It grabs the audiences from the very first notes of its exhilarating overture and does not let go in its mad rush of laughs and memorable melodies. The bundle of energy and joy that is this opera will play on the stage of Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in Florence this season.
Le nozze di Figaro, as the opera’s Italian title goes, was Mozart’s momentous venture into Italian opera which was very much in vogue in Vienna during the 1780s. A successful entry in this genre would grant the young composer the Austrian court’s favour and open many new doors. Naturally, when the highly demanded librettist Lorenzo da Ponte suddenly became available, Mozart seized on the collaboration opportunity.
Always faithful to their troublemaker streak, the two set their sights on the play La folle journée, ou le Mariage de Figaro by Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais, an incisive political satire that exposed the depravity and moral decay of the upper classes. Even after the imperial censors gave the opera a thorough going-over, The Marriage of Figaro retains the rebellious satirical character that we have come to associate with Mozart himself.
To highlight the corruption of traditional nobility, The Marriage of Figaro presents the lovable servant Figaro as he is about to wed his love Susanna. His master, the lustful Count Almaviva, tries to obstruct the ceremony and assert his right to sleep with Susanna before her lawful husband does. Using all his charms and wits and running through a series of hilarious situations, Figaro averts disaster, rekindles the relationship between Almaviva and his wife Rosina, and finally marries Susanna to ensure a happy ending.
Mozart puts all his musical talents to work in The Marriage of Figaro. Alongside the vibrant characters, the orchestra takes on an active role in moving the plot forward and creating various dramatic effects. The arias and duets are fully developed and finely tuned to convey carefully crafted emotional states, in true Mozart fashion.
The Marriage of Figaro premiered at Vienna’s Burgtheater on 1 May 1786. Despite popular acclaim, its run was truncated for political reasons. Once it was revived in Prague in December 1786, however, Mozart's Italian opera buffa became a massive success across the continent.