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Thursday, 31 March 2016

The Marriage of Figaro

The Marriage of Figaro is a comic opera by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, with an Italian libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte. The work was the first of three collaborations between Mozart and Lorenzo Da Ponte, their other joint compositions being Don Giovanni and Così fan tutte.

Lorenzo Da Ponte (March 10, 1749 – August 17, 1838) was an Italian, later American opera librettist, poet and Roman Catholic priest. He wrote the libretti for 28 operas by 11 composers. Da Ponte lived an interesting life. He was banished from Venice for living in a brothel, narrowly avoided execution in the French Revolution, and wound up running a grocery store in Sunbury, Pennsylvania.

Libretto 1786

The opera is based on Pierre Beaumarchais' 1778 stage comedy, Le Mariage de Figaro. Beaumarchais' play had been banned briefly in France as its anti-aristocratic overtones were considered dangerous in the decade before the French Revolution. However, the play's political references were removed and Da Ponte's libretto passed the Viennese censors.

Mozart spent the year 1786 in Vienna in an apartment which may be visited today at Domgasse 5 behind St. Stephen's Cathedral; it was there that Mozart composed The Marriage of Figaro.

The score came close to being destroyed. The story goes that the Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II was looking for an opera to be performed in the imperial court in Vienna. The Marriage of Figaro was one of the works under consideration, along with a number of others by contemporary composers. Mozart had achieved very little success in the Austrian capital at that point and he threatened to burn The Marriage of Figaro if he was passed over. Fortunately, the emperor had enough musical taste to choose Mozart's comic opera.

The opera premiered at the Burgtheater, Vienna on May 1, 1786. It was well received by most though the Emperor Ferdinand commented "Far too noisy, my dear Mozart. Far too many notes."

Act 1: Cherubino hides behind Susanna's chair as the Count arrives.

The Figaro character also cropped up in Beaumarchais' earlier comedy Le Barbier de Séville, which was later adapted into a comic opera by Gioachino Rossini.

The opera became one of Mozart's most successful works and the overture is especially famous and is often played as a concert piece.

The Marriage of Figaro Overture is the song played by Wonka for the musical lock to the candy room in the 1971 film Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory. In the movie, the know-it-all Mrs. Teevee incorrectly mistakes it for "Rachmaninoff."

(Most of this was originally written  by myself for

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