The Marriage of Figaro
Thursday, July 13, 2017 @ 7:30 p.m.
Scott Concert Hall at the Porter Center
Janiec Opera Company of the Brevard Music Center
Ticket holders may attend a free Pre-Opera Talk in Scott Commons beginning one hour before the performance.
MOZART Le nozze di Figaro
More Information (Show)
As a sequel to the play The Barber of Seville, the same characters are at it again: Figaro, who had outwitted Dr. Barbaro to aid Count Almaviva marry the countess, is once again at the center of the action. Three years later, the Count has begun to wander in his marriage. His latest love interest is Susanna, Figaro’s fiancée and the Countess’ servant. The whole opera takes place within one day.
Figaro and Susanna are preparing their new “home,” the antechamber seemingly conveniently located between the count and countess’s chambers. Susanna sours Figaro’s happy mood, explaining that the location is mostly convenient for the Count’s pursuits of Susanna. To make matters worse for Figaro, Dr. Bartolo appears, reminding Figaro of his obligation to marry his aging maid, Marcellina, for not being able to repay his debts. Susanna stays behind when the young page Cherubino enters, telling Susanna of his love for the Countess. Unfortunately for him, the Count appears and banishes him to the army. Figaro returns with a group of peasants praising the Count for his recent announcement to forgo his “feudal rights” to be with any woman in his realm on her wedding night. So far, nobody seems to get what s/he wants.
Countess Almavia, Susanna, and Cherubino hatch a plan to teach the Count a lesson. The Count will be lured to a meeting with Susanna—only to meet Cherubino dressed up as Susanna. Susanna leaves the room, when the Count appears. Cherubino hides in the closet, but the Count hears something and demands to see what’s in the closet. The Countess tries to calm her husband, as he his fetching a crowbar. Susanna and Cherubino trade places, and the couple are surprised to find Susanna in the closet. Figaro enters, demanding for the wedding to proceed. Once again Bartolo and Marcellina appear to force Figaro to marry Marcellina, and the Count gleefully cancels the wedding to Susanna.
Another plan is hatched, which again involves a meeting between the Count and Susanna. Meanwhile, Figaro tries to solve his wedding dilemma by claiming that he’s actually a nobleman, stolen from his parents at birth. As he displays his birthmark, Marcellina realizes that she is his mother—and Bartolo his father. The wedding to Susanna is on again. Before the wedding, Susanna and the Countess finalize their fateful plan to expose the Count. The wedding gets under way.
The servant girl Barbarina, recruited as the courier, has lost the hairpin that came with the letter to the Count. Just then Figaro appears, realizing with dismay that Susanna is to meet the Count. But Figaro figures out that Susanna and the Countess have switched roles—so the Count will seduce his wife instead of Susanna. He decides to have some fun of his own and puts moves on the Countess (a.k.a. Susanna), who is rightfully enraged until she realizes what Figaro is doing. At the same time, the Count has devoted his attention to Susanna (a.k.a. his wife) when he sees Figaro’s seduction of “the Countess.” The Count is enraged and confronts “his wife.” Once she eventually reveals herself as Susanna, the Count is humbled. He asks for his wife’s forgiveness, and everybody is finally happy.
- Siegwart Reichwald
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
The Marriage of Figaro
Premiered on May 1, 1786, at the Burgtheater, Vienna, under the direction of the composer.
While the 1984 hit movie Amadeus, based on Peter Shaffer’s play, doesn’t strive for historical accuracy, some of the discussions about music are very insightful. During the scene where Mozart pitches his newest project, Figaro, to Joseph II, two issues are explored: the question of censorship, and Mozart’s revolutionary operatic approach. Regarding censorship, questions about redeeming moral values and contentious issues about class relationships are raised. Should an opera delve into the limitations of rank and privilege, where common sense can readily overcome wealth and power and where genuine humility easily upstages unwarranted arrogance? Mozart’s librettist, Lorenzo da Ponte, had rewritten the banned play, taken out anything overtly political, which seemed to appease Joseph II enough to allow the opera plans to proceed. Figaro was the first of three Mozart/da Ponte collaborations, which might be the greatest one-two punch in opera history.
The musical issues described in the Amadeus scene are even more interesting. To sway the emperor in favor of Figaro, Mozart points out two operatic innovations. The first is the use of extended music in ensemble scenes, breaking down the typical recitative/aria template. Mozart turns a duet into a trio, quartet, quintet, etc. until eight characters sing at the same time—20 minutes of continuous music. Just as opera influenced Mozart’s symphonies, so did the symphony influence his operas. The ability to create drama on a purely musical level shows Mozart’s use of sonata form principle (contrasting keys/themes interacting to find an eventual resolution) as a central aspect of Mozart’s operatic success. The second innovation can be found right at the start of Figaro, where the title character measures a space to see if the wedding bed might fit. Mozart (with da Ponte’s help) was the master of comedy; he could produce farcical scenes, make them relevant to the plot, and create three-dimensional characters in the process. Not surprisingly, Figaro was a success in Vienna. So much so, that the emperor banned excessive encores after the first couple of performances.
Overture Program Information
Artist Information (Show)
Figaro - Brent Hetherington
Susanna - Virginia Mims
Count Almaviva - Michael Pandolfo
Countess Almaviva - Madison Hatten
Cherubino - Amy Yarham
Marcellina - Melanie Burbules
Don Bartolo - Steele Fitzwater
Don Basilio - Darius Thomas
Don Curzio - Daniel Weisman
Barbarina - Jennie Judd
Antonio - Ian Bolden
Flower Girl #1 - Sara Law
Flower Girl #2 - Esther Atkinson