Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro)

by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

- Le Mariage de Figaro
- Written in 1778 by  French playwright Pierre-Augustin de Beaumarchais
- Sequel to The Barber of Seville  (1775)
- Banned in pre-revolutionary Paris because it satirized the established social order
- Finally allowed to be performed in Paris in 1784
- Was being prepared for performance in Vienna in 1785 but it was forbidden by
    Emperor Joseph II
FROM PLAY TO OPERA (Court politics included)
- Freeing himself from Archbishop Colloredo in Salzburg, Mozart moved to Vienna
- Wrote The Abduction from the Seraglio  in 1782 for the Court Theater (Emperor
    Joseph II had established a German opera in Vienna)
- Soon after, the singspiel  company was dissolved
- Antonio Salieri, Court Composer, persuaded the Emperor to reorganize the theater
    along Italian lines
- Lorenzo da Ponte, upon recommendation of Salieri, had been appointed Court Poet
    after Metastasio's death
- Da Ponte had recently fallen out of favor with the court when a collaboration with
    Salieri (Il Ricco d'un giorno ) flopped
- Mozart needed a librettist and Da Ponte needed a composer
- They came together on The Marriage of Figaro
- Da Ponte cleverly omitted all offensive passages and after hearing some of the
    music, the Emperor ordered the performance
- Mozart wrote the entire opera in six weeks (between mid-October and the end of
    November, 1785)
- The opera director, Count Orsini-Rosenberg, insisted that Figaro  wait - Salieri and
    another composer, Vincenzo Righini, had operas ready
- Rivalry and discord erupted - parties were formed and lines drawn - everyone in the
    opera company joined in the feud
- His Majesty issued a mandate that Figaro  was to be instantly put into rehearsal
- It was soon brought to Rosenberg's attention, by a Salieri partisan, that Figaro
    had a  ballet in the third Act (ballet was banned in the Court Theater by the
- Da Ponte refused to omit it and Rosenberg tore out the pages containing it and
    threw them in the fire (the ballet was a dance at Figaro's wedding and provided a
    backdrop for unspoken action)
- Da Ponte succeeded in having the Emperor attend the dress rehearsal - upon seeing
    the silent action on the stage, the Emperor questioned Da Ponte, who explained,
    and the ballet was restored by order of His Majesty
- At the premiere, on May 1, 1786, the Salieri clique tried to ruin the first Act by
    singing off pitch, omitting lines and missing cues
- Joseph II had a good ear for music as well as rebellion, and informed Rosenberg
    that the future of the Italian opera company depended on a satisfactory performance
    of Figaro
- The public demanded so many encores, the performance lasted almost twice as long
- After the premiere, all da capos  were prohibited - allegedly in order to save the
    singers' voices
- After only nine performances the work was shelved
- Figaro  was presented in Prague the next winter (Dec. 1786) to overwhelming
- This tremendous success landed Mozart the commission for another opera -
    Don  Giovanni, and a repeat production of Figaro  in Vienna in 1789
- Considered opera buffa  but includes many elements of opera seria
- Prominent use of secco recitative as well as accompanied recitative
- A comic rhythm is prominent throughout -
      a balanced situation is presented
      a disruption upsets the balance
      the characters react and strike a new balance
      only to have another disruption
- This pattern (noted above) can be seen in the music as well as the plot
- With music, Mozart made his characters real people, not crude farcical
- More character delineation is done in ensembles than in arias (not an easy task)
- His humor was refined- not just derived from situations, but from characterizations
    as well, intermingled with seriousness that contributes to all great comedy
- His finales are not just successions of pieces with the appropriate tempi, but
    they are truly symphonic in nature
- The musical material is developed in the same manner as that of a symphony with a
    definite relationship between principle and subordinate elements as well as
    continuity and unity arising from an overall plan of tempo and key centers
MUSIC (Excerpts)
- Overture
  Dmaj - Amaj - Dmaj

- No. 1 -  "Cinque... dieci..."
  Duettino - Figaro and Susanna
   Gmaj - Dmaj - Gmaj

- No. 3 -  "Se vuol ballare"
  Cavatina - Figaro
   Fmaj - Cmaj - Fmaj

- No. 7 -  "Cosa sento!  Tosto andate"
  Terzetto - Count, Basilio, and Susanna
   Sonata-Allegro form

    1st subject (m. 5) - B flat maj.
    2nd subject (m. 43) - F maj.

   Development (m. 70)

   False Recapitulation and Recitative (m. 101) - B flat maj.
   Real Recap.
    1st subject (m. 147) - B flat maj.
    2nd subject (m. 168) - B flat maj.
   Coda (m. 201) - B flat maj.

- No. 9 -  "Non piu andrai"
  Aria - Figaro
   C maj - G maj - C maj - G maj - C maj

- No. 11 -  "Voi che sapete"
  Arietta - Cherubino
   Exposition (m. 1-20) - Bflat maj.

   Middle Section (m 21-61) - F maj - Aflat maj - Gmaj

   Recapitulation (m. 62-79) - Bflat maj

- No. 15 - "Esci omai, garzon malnato"
  ACT II Finale - Count, Countess, Susanna, Figaro, Antonio, Marcellina,
        Bartolo, and Basilio
  E flat maj - B flat maj    -   G maj - C maj - F maj   -   B flat maj - E flat maj

- No. 28 -  "Pian, pianin le andro piu presso"
  ACT IV Finale - Entire Cast
   D maj - Gmaj    -    E flat maj - B flat maj    -    G maj - D maj