THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO
Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte
Sung in Italian with English surtitles
The passions and perils of love and marriage collide in one uproarious day as Figaro struggles to get his bride, Susanna, to the altar unscathed. Identities are concealed, manners upended, plots foiled … all to the glorious music of Mozart’s masterpiece.
Evan Hughes, Nicole Heaston, David Pershall and Emily Fons make their BLO debuts, and Emily Birsan, who wowed audiences as Musetta in 2015’s La Bohème, is the bride-to-be, Susanna. The Marriage of Figaro reunites key members of BLO’s La Bohème creative team, with Rosetta Cucchi directing, BLO Artistic Advisor John Conklin set designing, and David Angus conducting.
Conductor David Angus
Stage Director Rosetta Cucchi
Set Designer John Conklin
Costume Designer Gail Astrid Buckley
Lighting Designer D M Wood
Wig-Makeup Designer Jason Allen
Surtitle Designer Allison Voth
CAST, in order of vocal appearance
Evan Hughes as Figaro
Emily Birsan as Susanna
David Cushing as Bartolo
Michelle Trainor as Marcellina
Emily Fons as Cherubino
David Pershall as Count Almaviva
Matthew DiBattista as Basilio
Nicole Heaston as Countess Almaviva
Simon Dyer as Antonio
Brad Raymond as Don Curzio
Sara Womble as Barbarina
Bridesmaids: Felicia Gavilanes and Emma Sorenson
3 hours including one intermission
Pre-Opera Talks are free to ticketholders and take place one hour before curtain
LISTEN TO THE MUSIC
A villa in Italy during the 1950s.
The servants Figaro and Susanna are about to be married, but their employer, the Count Almaviva, has also cast his roving eye on the bride-to-be. Figaro vows to outwit his master. And there’s another problem: the much-older Marcellina, housekeeper to Dr. Bartolo, wants to marry Figaro herself – and he owes her a tidy sum of money.
Meanwhile, the teenager Cherubino can’t help flirting with all the women of the household, including the Countess herself. Enraged, the Count orders him to join the army. Susanna and the Countess recruit Cherubino to their plan to trick the Count, playfully dressing him up as a girl. When the Count unexpectedly arrives, they must maneuver quickly, making Cherubino jump from the window so that Susanna can take his place undiscovered. But the complaining gardener ruins their plot, and Figaro must cover for the boy by faking a limp. Marcellina and Bartolo demand that the Count settle the dispute of whom Figaro will marry.
Susanna sets the servants’ plot in motion by leading the Count on with the promise of a tryst. Marcellina demands that Figaro pay her back or marry her, but when Figaro shows her his birthmark, Marcellina realizes that Figaro is her long-lost child – and Bartolo is his father! They embrace joyously. Susanna confirms her rendezvous with the Count with a note, sealed with a pin.
Later that night, the gardener’s daughter, Barbarina, is upset because she has lost the pin, which the Count entrusted her, and she tells Figaro and Marcellina about the rendezvous. Figaro rants against women, especially his faithless bride. When Susanna and the Countess appear, dressed in one another’s clothes, he hides to watch. Susanna sings of love, knowing that she is making the listening Figaro squirm. The Count arrives to woo “Susanna” – the Countess in disguise. Figaro, who has realized what is happening, declares his love for the “Countess,” to the consternation of Susanna and the rage of the Count. The real Countess reveals herself, and her husband realizes his folly and begs her forgiveness. She grants it, and all the couples – the Count and Countess, Susanna and Figaro, Barbarina and Cherubino, and Marcellina and Bartolo – enjoy a happy ending.
Meet the Artists
Recommendations for further reading, watching, and exploring from John Conklin, BLO Artistic Advisor
BACKGROUND on THE FATHERS of FIGARO
BEAUMARCHAIS: A BIOGRAPHY
By Maurice Lever
Translated by Susan Emanuel
Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2009
As many commentators have pointed out, Beaumarchais led a varied and complicated life, not unlike his most famous creation, Figaro. He was a highly successful playwright, a politician, a publisher, a reckless (but brilliant) entrepreneur, a speculator, spy, important supporter of the American Revolution, early champion of the rights of artists and intellectual property, and more. This biography delights in these exploits…a well-told story of adventure, enterprise and wit.
THE FIGARO TRILOGY: THE BARBER of SEVILLE, THE MARRIAGE of FIGARO, THE GUILTY MOTHER
By Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais
Translated by David Coward
Oxford World Classics Oxford University Press, 2008
Of course, Beaumarchais is best known as a playwright (at least for the first two Figaro plays…the third of the trilogy is a somewhat weird oddity). Highly theatrical, exuberant, “masterpieces of skill, invention, wit and social satire,” the plays are interesting not only on their own, but also as the source for masterpieces by Rossini and Mozart. “Coward’s translations cope admirably with Beaumarchais’ wide range of tone and registers in three very different plays.” His comprehensive introduction, weaving information and interpretation “into a compelling narrative,” (Times Literary Supplement) is excellent and has much to say about the operatic incarnations of Figaro.
MEMOIRS OF LORENZO DA PONTE
By Lorenzo da Ponte
Introduction by Charles Rosen
New York Review Books Classics, 2000
Perhaps Beaumarchais’ only 18th-century rival for most amazing life trajectory is the librettist of The Marriage of Figaro (not to mention Don Giovanni and Così Fan Tutte) is Lorenzo Da Ponte. At one time or another, he was a priest, proprietor of a brothel, grocery store clerk, and the first professor of Italian at Columbia University. Da Ponte’s own account is entertaining, vivid, untrustworthy…and somewhat disappointing in the short shrift given to his work with Mozart. But energetically gossipy and fun!
THE LIBRETTIST OF VENICE: THE REMARKABLE LIFE OF LORENZO DA PONTE, MOZART’S POET, CASANOVA’S FRIEND AND ITALIAN OPERA’S IMPRESARIO IN AMERICA
By Rodney Bolt
Bloomsbury Press USA, 2006
“Bolt skillfully relates broader cultural history to Da Ponte’s activities to provide quite a glimpse into turbulent times on both sides of the Atlantic. Da Ponte affected and was affected by many events and those help to make the fast paced story of a poet whose overwhelming optimism always prevailed a joy to read.” – Booklist
MOZART’S LETTERS, MOZART’S LIFE: SELECTED LETTERS
By Robert Spaethling, editor and translator
W. Norton & Company, 2000
Spaethling writes in his introduction that his goal was “to provide a complete account of Mozart the musician, Mozart the individual and Mozart the writer,” and he has accomplishes this with insight and nuance.
MOZART: A CULTURAL BIOGRAPHY
By Robert W. Gutman
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1999
Exhaustive (and somewhat exhausting tome of some 900 pages) but eminently worth exploring—a work which brilliantly places Mozart’s life and music in the context of the intellectual, political and artistic currents of 18th-century Europe, including an excellent analysis of The Marriage of Figaro.
MOZART: A LIFE
By Peter Gay
A Penguin Life Series
Penguin Books, 2006
As brief (177 pages) as the Gutman biography is comprehensive, this book is lucid, clear-eyed and eloquent.
BOOKS ABOUT MOZART’S OPERAS
Of course there are shelves and shelves of books analyzing the overall specific musical qualities and cultural backgrounds of Mozart’s operas. Here are two of my favorites:
MOZART AND THE ENLIGHTENMENT: TRUTH, VIRTUE, AND BEAUTY IN MOZART’S OPERAS
By Nicholas Till
W. Norton, 1996
“… a triumphant study of Mozart’s supreme masterpieces … few books provide such a satisfying exploration of the thoughts and feelings from which great art is born … a feast for the intellectually adventurous.” – Kirkus Review
MOZART THE DRAMATIST: The Value of His Operas to Him, to His Age and to Us
By Brigid Brophy
Da Capo Press 1990; Libris, 2nd edition, 1998
A novelist and a committed Freudian, Brophy’s insightful views and analysis are often controversial (at times exaggerated) but never less than stimulating, personal and witty.
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