Wolfgang A. Mozart • Le nozze di Figaro
Opera buffa in four acts K. 492 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791)
Text by Lorenzo Da Ponte (1749–1838) after Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais's play La Folle Journée, ou Le Mariage de Figaro (1778)
With German and English surtitles
Duration of the opera approx. 3 hours and 25 minutes.
- 26 July 2015, 14:00
- 02 August 2015, 16:00
- 05 August 2015, 19:00
- 09 August 2015, 18:00
- 12 August 2015, 19:00
- 15 August 2015, 15:00
- 18 August 2015, 20:00
Print programme (PDF)
Luca Pisaroni, Il Conte Almaviva
Anett Fritsch, La Contessa Almaviva
Martina Janková, Susanna
Adam Plachetka, Figaro
Margarita Gritskova, Cherubino
Ann Murray, Marcellina
Carlos Chausson, Don Bartolo
Paul Schweinester, Don Basilio
Franz Supper, Don Curzio
Christina Gansch*, Barbarina
Erik Anstine, Antonio
Martina Reder, Cornelia Sonnleithner, Peasant girls
Concert Association of the Vienna State Opera Chorus
*Member of the Young Singers Project
Following the success of Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail in 1782, the official superintendent of opera in Vienna Count Rosenberg-Orsini called upon the composer, who at the time was actively committed to the cause of German opera, to turn his attention to writing ‘an Italian opera’. Mozart was finally won over by the idea and started an energetic search for a suitable libretto, though initially without success. In May 1783 we find him writing to his father that he had looked in vain through ‘easily a hundred and probably more libretti’ in search of one that matched his idea of an ‘Italian opera buffa’, namely, that it should be ‘on the whole quite comic’ and contain ‘two female roles of comparable quality’.
Even at this point Mozart had fairly exact ideas about the two female roles. While one was to be ‘seria’ and the other ‘of a middle character’ (not entirely seria but not entirely buffa either), they had to be of exactly the same ‘quality’. Finally, in Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais’s La Folle Journée ou le Mariage de Figaro, Mozart found not only his required combination of female roles in the Countess and Susanna but also a brilliant comedy with great contemporary relevance. While after years of dispute with the French censors it had been a sensational success at its first performance in Paris, the Viennese censors had not allowed it to be performed at all, though they did permit it to appear in print. Mozart then took the proposal that the scandal-enshrouded comedy would make a good opera to Lorenzo Da Ponte, who wrote a libretto and succeeded in persuading Joseph II that in his ‘imitation’ of the Beaumarchais he had ‘omitted or abbreviated everything in the original that was contrary to uprightness and morality’.
Beaumarchais’s foremost intention in his play, for all the vividness of his characters, had been to satirise the moribund social order of his time – with merciless lack of respect but at the same time with intelligence and wit. While it puts a spotlight on conflict in the social hierarchy, between the Count and his valet Figaro, it also shows the traditional dominance of the aristocracy beginning to be eroded by the rise of a new social class. As the son of a clockmaker, Beaumarchais had personal experience of having risen swiftly in society; he himself was a parvenu, a nouveau riche, and – much to his displeasure – had even been portrayed as such by Goethe in the play Clavigo.
In Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, by contrast, the focus – as in all his operas – is on the drives and motivations that are common to all human beings and determine their (and our) behaviour and actions. The relentless and unsparing intensity with which Mozart delves into and questions the various conditions governing human co-existence and then uses them to bring about extreme escalations in the plot makes his opera an entirely different work from Beaumarchais’s comedy. The wealth of interpretative possibilities inherent not only in Lorenzo Da Ponte’s brilliant adaptation but also in Mozart’s score mean that every director of this opera is constantly forced to make decisions about which line of thought is to be followed.
Translated by John Nicholson