Le Nozze di Figaro
Thu, 03. Sept 2020, 19:00
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791)
Figaro and Susanna, servants at the court of Duke Almaviva, intend to marry. They are about to set up house in the quarters allotted to them in the Duke's castle. While Figaro is anticipating future happiness and measuring the matrimonial bed, Susanna remains suspicious. She fears that the Duke, who is known to have lost interest in his wife Rosina, may insist on his “Right to the First Night”. Figaro is distraught and decides to thwart his master's plans. But he has another problem: once, when he was short of money, he promised to marry Marcellina, the Duke's housekeeper. Now she is pestering him, reminding him of his promise. Meanwhile Cherubino, the page, has found refuge with Susanna, who is in the Duchess' chamber working on the latter's wardrobe. The Duke has caught him trysting with Barbarina, the gardener's daughter, and dismissed him. Cherubino is now asking Susanna to mediate. When the Duke enters the Duchess' bedroom to woo Susanna he is forced to hide. Then the music master Basilio enters, followed by Figaro. The situation becomes increasingly complicated, and Susanna is the only person present who is still able to make head or tail of the situation. The Duke reluctantly agrees to personally place the veil on the bride's head, all the while continuing to hope that he is still in with a chance. Meanwhile the Duchess is lamenting her husband's indifference towards her. Figaro and Susanna want to help her and propose an intrigue. The Duke has to experience jealousy and be taught a lesson at the same time. As all the protagonists tend to pursue their own agendas as the story unfolds, everything spirals out of control. The Duke's and Duchess' marriage and the love of the young couple seem jeopardised. Following a catalogue of entanglements and a disastrous evening rendezvous all are reunited… washed-out, shriven and perhaps slightly the wiser for the experience.
LE NOZZE DI FIGARO was Mozart's first collaboration with libretto poet Lorenzo da Ponte. DON GIOVANNI and COSÌ FAN TUTTE were to follow. Le Nozze is based on the French farce La folle journée, ou Le Marriage de Figaro [1783/84] by Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais, a work as topical as it was controversial. This comedy about a pair of servants who manage to get the better of their masters was a scandal in the pre-revolutionary Paris of the late 18th century. It seems a miracle today that da Ponte was able to get the play performed at the Viennese Court, which had no interest in showcasing such a disrespectful spectacle. Mozart and da Ponte revised the storyline, softened the highly controversial social elements of the characters somewhat and adjusted the dramaturgy of the play to the prerequisites of musical theatre, without suppressing the significance of the original version. The result was one of the most perfectly rounded musical comedies in the history of opera: timeless in its humanity, sophisticated in its treatment of characters, full of surprising developments and extremely rich in musical ideas - a richness that allows the individual characters to come to life, both in their interactions with others and in their relation to themselves.
Götz Friedrich's production follows the Mozartian concept, bringing to the opera a psychological perspicacity and an eye for absurdity as the storyline develops. He also displays a feel for human fallibility, the same fallibility that Mozart presents us with in his process of critical analysis.
Commedia per musica in 4 acts
Libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte
First performed on 1st May, 1786 in Vienna
Premiered at the Deutsche Oper Berlin on 14th December, 1978