Comic opera in four acts
Libretto by L. da Ponte
Countess Rosina, his wife
Figaro, servant of the Count
Susanna, the Countess’s maid
Basilio, the teacher of music
Don Courtsio, judge
Antonio, the gardener
Barbara, his daughter
Baritone or high bass
Peasants and peasant women, guests, servants.
Place of action: the castle of Count Almaviva near Seville (Spain).
Time: the end of the XVIII century.
HISTORY OF CREATION
The plot of the opera was
borrowed from the comedy of the famous French playwright P. Beaumarchais (1732-1799) “The Mad Day, or The Marriage of Figaro” (1781), which represents the second part of the dramatic trilogy (the first part – The Barber of Seville, 1773 – opera by D. Rossini). Comedy appeared in the years immediately preceding the French Revolution (first set in Paris in 1784), and due to its anti-feudal tendencies caused a huge public response. Mozart “The Marriage of Figaro” attracted not only the liveliness of the characters, the swiftness of action, the comic acuity, but also the social-critical focus. In Austria, the comedy of Beaumarchais was banned, but Mozart’s librettist L. da Ponte (1749-1838) obtained permission to stage the opera. When processing in the libretto (written in Italian), many comedy scenes were cut, and the publicistic monologues of Figaro were released. This was dictated not only by the requirements of censorship, but also by the specific conditions of the opera genre. Nevertheless, the main idea of the play Beaumarchais – the idea of the moral superiority
of the commoner Figaro over the aristocrat Almaviva – received in the music of the opera an irresistibly convincing artistic embodiment.
The hero of the opera, the lackey Figaro – a typical representative of the third estate. A clever and enterprising, scoffer and wit, boldly fighting the omnipotent noble and triumphing over him, he is delineated by Mozart with great love and sympathy. The opera also realistically depicts the images of the provocative and tender friend of Figaro Susanna, the suffering Countess, the young Cherubino, engulfed by the first unrest of love, the haughty count and the traditional comic characters – Bartolo, Basilio and Marcellina.
Mozart began composing music in December 1785, finished it in five months; The premiere took place in Vienna on May 1, 1786 and passed with little success. The opera acquired its true recognition only after it was staged in Prague in December of the same year.
“The Marriage of Figaro” – a household comic opera in which Mozart – the first in the history of musical theater – managed to brightly and multifacetedly reveal in action the living individual characters. Relationships, clashes of these characters determined many of the features of the musical drama “The Weddings of Figaro”, gave flexibility, variety to its operatic forms. Especially significant is the role of ensembles associated with stage action, often freely developing.
The swiftness of the movement, the intoxicating fun permeate the overture of the opera, which introduces into the cheerful situation the events of the “insane day”.
In the first act, ensembles and arias alternate naturally and at ease. Two consecutive duos of Susanna and Figaro attract grace; the first – joyful and serene, in the playfulness of the second slip of alarming notes. The wit and courage of Figaro are imprinted in the Cavatina “If the gentleman wants to jump”, the irony of which is emphasized by the dance rhythm. Quiveringly excited aria Cherubino “Tell, I can not explain” delineates the poetic image of a loving page. The anger of the Count, the embarrassment of Basilio, the alarm of Susanna are expressively conveyed in the tercet. The mocking aria “The Fast Boy”, sustained in the nature of the military march, accompanied by the sound of pipes and timpani, paints an image of the energetic, temperamental and gay Figaro.
The second act begins with light lyrical episodes. The Countess’ aria “The God of Love” attracts lyricism and noble restraint of feeling; plasticity and beauty of the vocal melody are combined in it with the subtlety of orchestral accompaniment. Tenderness and loving longings are full of Cherubino’s aria “Heart cares.” The final act is based on the free alternation of ensemble scenes; dramatic tension builds up in waves. Following the turbulent duet of the Count and Countess follows a tercet, starting with Susanna’s mocking remarks; vividly, vividly, the next following scenes with Figaro quickly sound. The act ends with a large ensemble in which the triumphant voices of the Count and his accomplices are opposed to the parties of Susanna, the Countess and Figaro.
In the third act, the duo of the Count and Susanna are singled out, captivating the truthfulness and subtlety of the characteristics; his music simultaneously conveys the craftiness of the charming servant and the genuine passion and tenderness of the deceived count. The duet of Susanna and the countess is in clear, pastel colors; voices are softly echoed, accompanied by an oboe and a bassoon.
The fourth act begins with a small naive-grace aria Barbarina “Dropped, lost.” Lyrical aria of Susanna “Come, my dear friend” is fanned by the poetry of a quiet moonlit night. The music of the finale, conveying the complex feelings of the characters, sounds at first muffled, but gradually filled with joyful rejoicing.