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
Dramaturg John Conklin
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†
* Boston Lyric Opera Debut
† Boston Lyric Opera Jane and Steven Akin Emerging Artist
‡ Boston Lyric Opera Jane and Steven Akin Emerging Artist Alumnus
John Hancock Hall at the Back Bay Events Center
180 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA, 02116
Closest T Stops: Back Bay, Arlington
Discounted parking is available at the 100 Clarendon Street Garage, Boston, MA, 02116. Please bring your parking ticket to John Hancock Hall and a staff member will stamp your parking ticket. Discounted parking is available for $7 for evening performances after 5 PM and $17 for weekend performances.
Performed in two parts with one intermission. Performance running time is approximately 3 hours.
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 reveals his parenthood. 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
DAVID ANGUS | Conductor
David Angus is Music Director of Boston Lyric Opera, following a very successful period as Music Director of Glimmerglass Opera. He conducts the London Philharmonic Orchestra every Season and is also Honorary Conductor of the Flanders Symphony Orchestra, where he was Chief Conductor for many years and built the orchestra into one of the most exciting young orchestras in Northern Europe. Mr. Angus now conducts opera all over Europe and North America. He began his career working at Glyndebourne, where he conducted a wide range of operas, and he went on to work in Italy and then across Europe. In the concert hall, he performs particularly in the UK and Scandinavia, and next Season will also see him in Italy, Ireland and Portugal, as well as returning to his former orchestra in Belgium. He has recorded many CDs and broadcasts regularly on classical radio channels.
ROSETTA CUCCHI | Stage Director
Rosetta Cucchi returns to Boston Lyric Opera, having directed BLO’s 2015 production of La Bohème. Since 2006, Ms. Cucchi has been Artistic Director of Fondazione Arturo Toscanini in Parma. Recent engagements include Rodelinda (Bellini Festival della V’Ditria), Cenerentola (Circuito AsLiCo), La Traviata (Teatro Communale di Modena, Opera di Tenerife); Rigoletto and Gioconda (St. Gallen Theatre); Werther and L’Elisir d’Amore (Teatro Comunale Bologna); Don Giovanni (Opera de Genova, Tenerife, Lucca, Piacenza and Modena); La Favorite (Teatro La Fenice); Mariotte’s Salomé and L’Arlesiana (Wexford Festival); Rigoletto and La Gioconda (Stadttheater St. Gallen); Idomeneo and Cavalleria Rusticana/La Vida Breve (Theater Lübeck); Rodelinda and Zaira (Festival della Valle d’Itria); La Cenerentola (Piacenza, Pavia, Como, Cremona and Brescia); La Traviata (Modena, Piacenza and Opéra de Tenerife); Così Fan Tutte (Opéra de Marseille, Modena, Piacenza, Lucca); Il Barbiere di Siviglia (Teatro Rendano Cosenza); The Marriage of Figaro (Opéra de Tenerife, Teatro Comunale di Piacenza); and Falstaff (Gulbenkian Hall Lisbon).
JOHN CONKLIN | Set Designer
John Conklin has designed sets on and off Broadway, at the Kennedy Center, and for opera companies around the world, including The Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Seattle Opera, San Francisco Opera, Bastille Opera in Paris, The Royal Opera and the opera houses of Munich, Amsterdam, and Bologna, among others. Locally, his work has been seen in Boston Lyric Opera’s recent productions of La Bohème (2015), Werther (2016), The Merry Widow (2016), and Greek (2016), as well as at the American Repertory Theater and Boston Ballet. Additionally, Mr. Conklin develops lecture series and community events for BLO that enrich the audience experience and strengthen the presence of opera in Boston’s arts community. He is on the faculty at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and was a recipient of the 2011 National Endowment for the Arts Opera Honors.
GAIL ASTRID BUCKLEY | Costume Designer
Boston-based costume designer Gail Astrid Buckley has worked with BLO for nearly 20 years in a number of capacities. The Merry Widow (2016) marked her debut as solo Costume Designer. Her recent work includes The Christmas Carol (The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts); Hand to God (SpeakEasy Stage Company); Cendrillon (New England Conservatory); The Merry Wives of Windsor (Boston Conservatory) and Gabriel (Stoneham Theatre). Ms. Buckley has earned two “Small Theater: Best Costume Design” awards from The Independent Reviewers of New England and two Elliot Norton Awards for Best Costume Design and for Group Design for The Adding Machine (SpeakEasy Stage).
D.M. WOOD | Lighting Designer
D.M. Wood returns to Boston Lyric Opera after designing for BLO’s 2015 production of La Bohème. Recent designs include Don Giovanni (Northern Ireland Opera); Star Wars en Concert (Orchestre National de Lyon); L’Heure Espanole |Gianni Schicchi (Opéra National de Lorraine); 4.48 Psychosis (Royal Opera House, Lyric Hammersmith); Maria Stuarda (Seattle Opera); Kansas City Choir Boy (Kirk Douglas Theatre, American Repertory Theater, Prototype Festival); Don Giovanni (Bergen Nasjonale Opera), Norma (Gran Teatre del Liceu and San Francisco Opera); Anna Bolena (Lyric Opera of Chicago); Don Bucefalo, Silent Night and Salomé (Wexford Festival Opera); Euryanthe and Die Liebe der Danae (Bard Summerscape); La Favorite (Oper Graz); Candide and the World Premiere of L’Importance d’être Constant (Opéra National de Lorraine); The Importance of Being Earnest (Northern Ireland Opera); El Chico de Oz (Teatro Municipal); L’Enfant et les Sortilèges (The Bolshoi), and Il Trittico (Royal Opera House, Covent Garden). Ms. Wood’s design for Suor Angelica (part of Il Trittico at the Royal Opera House) won the U.K.’s 2012 Knight of Illumination Opera Award.
JASON ALLEN | Wig and Makeup Designer
Jason Allen has been Boston Lyric Opera’s resident Wig and Makeup
Designer since 2003. A fixture of the Boston performing arts community,
he also works with The Huntington Theatre Company, Boston Ballet, and
many other organizations in Boston and throughout the country.
EVAN HUGHES | Bass-baritone
Making his Boston Lyric Opera debut, Evan Hughes’ engagements include Guglielmo in Così Fan Tutte, Leporello in Don Giovanni, Angelotti in Tosca, Figaro in The Marriage of Figaro, Schaunard in La Bohème, Achilla in Giulio Cesare (The Semperoper Dresden); Don Basilio in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Leporello in Don Giovanni (Komische Oper in Berlin); Theseus in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Aix-en-Provence Festival) and the Protector in Written on Skin (Tanglewood Festival, American Premiere); concert credits include appearances with the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Ensemble Intercontemporain (Paris Philharmonie), and Elliott Carter’s The American Sublime with James Levine and the Met Chamber Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. An alumnus of The Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, Mr. Hughes attended the Curtis Institute of Music and was a regional winner and a national Semi-Finalist in the 2010 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.
EMILY BIRSAN | Soprano
Emily Birsan returns to Boston Lyric Opera after appearing as Musetta in the 2015 production of La Bohème. This Season, she made role debuts as Juliette in Roméo et Juliette (Madison Opera) and as Donna Anna in Don Giovanni (Florentine Opera). On the concert stage, she will make her debut with Melbourne Symphony singing Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, a concert with the Chicago Philharmonic, and featured with the BBC Symphony in London singing Bliss’ Beatitudes. Recent credits include the Italian Singer in Capriccio (Lyric Opera of Chicago); Leila in The Pearl Fishers (Florida Grand Opera); and Anne Trulove in The Rake’s Progress (Edinburgh International Festival), among others. Her critically acclaimed performances on the concert stage include Edward Elgar (Bergen Philharmonic), Verdi and Puccini (Knoxville Symphony) and, most recently, her Carnegie Hall debut with Mozart’s Mass in C Minor. Ms. Birsan has recorded with the Chandos Record Label Elgar’s oratorio work, The Saga of St. Olaf, with Sir Andrew Davis conducting.
DAVID CUSHING | Baritone
David Cushing’s recent opera appearances include the title roles of Don Pasquale and The Marriage of Figaro, Frère Laurent in Roméo et Juliette, and Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This Season, Mr. Cushing performed the roles of Trulove in BLO’s production of The Rake’s Progress; Frère Laurent/Duke in Roméo et Juliette (Opera Tampa); Police Officer in Der Rosenkavalier (Boston Symphony Orchestra); Commendatore/Masetto in Don Giovanni (Bar Harbor Music Festival), and as a soloist in Philip Glass’ Symphony No. 5 (The Washington Chorus). He is a BLO Jane and Steven Akin Emerging Artist alumnus and will be featured in BLO’s 2017/18 Season as Angelotti in Tosca and Donald in The Nefarious, Immoral but Highly Profitable Enterprise of Mr. Burke & Mr. Hare.
MICHELLE TRAINOR | Soprano
Michelle Trainor is a BLO Jane and Steven Akin Emerging Artist alumna and has sung in Boston Lyric Opera’s productions of The Inspector, Macbeth, Clemency, The Magic Flute, The Merry Widow, and The Love Potion. Ms. Trainor recently made her debut with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in their performance of Der Rosenkavalier under the direction of Andris Nelsons. This Season, she also joined the Brookline Symphony Orchestra singing Isolde’s Liebestod and will be the soloist in Vaughan Williams’ A Sea Symphony with New World Chorale. Michelle has recorded MacMillan’s Clemency and Schubert’s Hagar’s Lament on the BIS label with Boston Lyric Opera and was the 2011 recipient of the Company’s Stephen Shrestinian Award for Excellence. As a concert soloist, she has performed at Carnegie Hall and in Boston Ballet’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and will be featured in BLO’s 2017/18 Season as Helen McDougal in The Nefarious, Immoral but Highly Profitable Enterprise of Mr. Burke & Mr. Hare and Mrs. Peachum in The Threepenny Opera.
EMILY FONS | Mezzo-soprano
Emily Fons’ 2016/17 Season includes performances of Angelina in La Cenerentola (Opéra de Lille); Dorabella in Così Fan Tutte (Opera Omaha); Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni (Florentine Opera). In concert, she will be heard in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Cleveland Orchestra, with Franz Welser-Möst). Recent credits include Prince Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus (New Orleans Opera); Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro (Canadian Opera Company); Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia (Lyric Opera of Baltimore); and Stephano in Roméo et Juliette (Santa Fe Opera). In concert, she appeared with the Madison Symphony in Christmas concerts and with the Indianapolis Opera in their Crescendo series. Future projects include appearances with the Berlin Philharmonic, the Seiji Ozawa Matsumoto Festival, San Diego Opera, North Carolina Opera, and Kentucky Opera. Ms. Fons completed her Master’s Degree in Opera and Music Theatre at Southern Illinois University and received her undergraduate degree from Luther College where she was awarded the Brudos Prize. This is her Boston Lyric Opera debut.
DAVID PERSHALL | Baritone
Featured as one of Opera’s 25 Rising Stars in Opera News, David Pershall has won several prestigious vocal competitions including the 2016 George London Award sponsored by the Lloyd E. Rigler-Lawrence E. Deutsch Foundation, First Prize at the Marcello Giordani Competition, and First Prize at the Gerda Lissner Competition. He has appeared as Figaro in The Barber of Seville (The Metropolitan Opera, Vienna State Opera); Schaunard in La Bohème, and Lord Cecil in Maria Stuarda (The Metropolitan Opera); Belcore in L’Elisir d’Amore, Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, Sebastian in The Tempest, and Lescaut in Manon Lescaut (Vienna State Opera). His most recent appearance at Carnegie Hall was as Lord Nottingham in Roberto Devereux. This Season, David has appeared as Roucher in Andrea Chenier (San Francisco Opera); Escamillo in Carmen (Greensboro Opera); and Marcello in La Bohème (Salzburg Landestheater).
MATTHEW DIBATTISTA | Tenor
Matthew DiBattista returns to Boston Lyric Opera after playing Flute in the 2011 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He has sung with such conductors as Charles Dutoit, Seiji Ozawa, Keith Lockhart, Sir Andrew Davis and Robert Shaw. Mr. DiBattista has performed over 60 different roles to date, spanning the operatic repertoire. He has been on the roster of The Metropolitan Opera and performed the past four Seasons with Lyric Opera of Chicago where he recently sang Normano in Lucia di Lammermoor. Other credits include the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Glimmerglass Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Cincinnati May Festival, New Orleans Opera, Palm Beach Opera, Opera Omaha, Tulsa Opera, Opera Boston, Virginia Opera, Opera Colorado, Tanglewood, Long Beach Opera and has appeared for eight of the last nine Seasons as principal artist with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.
NICOLE HEASTON | Soprano
Since her debut at The Metropolitan Opera as Zerlina in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Nicole Heaston has appeared regularly with the Company and has been heard as Ilia in Mozart’s Idomeneo, Pamina in Die Zauberflöte (conducted by James Levine), and Echo in Ariadne auf Naxos. In recent Seasons, Ms. Heaston made her Italian debut in Adriano in Siria (Fondazione Pergolesi). She also made her debut with the Los Angeles Opera as Musetta in La Bohème and returned to Carnegie Hall for the Marilyn Horne Foundation’s annual recital. Engagements in recent seasons also include Countess Almaviva in The Marriage of Figaro (Den Norske Opera, Utah Opera); the title role in Alcina (Den Norske Opera, Royal Danish Opera); Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni and Arminda in La Finta Giardiniera (Glyndebourne Festival); Pamina in The Magic Flute (Houston Grand Opera); Alice Ford in Falstaff (Opera de Lausanne, Royal Danish Opera); and the title role in L’Incoronazione di Poppea (Semperoper Dresden). Additional 2016/17 Season engagements include Adina in L’Elisir d’Amore (Houston Grand Opera); Haydn’s The Creation (Houston Symphony) and Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni (Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra).
SIMON DYER | Bass-baritone
Simon Dyer is a 2016/17 BLO Jane and Steven Akin Emerging Artist who was last seen as the Keeper of the Madhouse in Boston Lyric Opera’s production of The Rake’s Progress. Dyer was a young artist at The Glimmerglass Festival in 2016 and will spend the summer of 2017 as a member of the Apprentice Singer Program at Santa Fe Opera. He will then join the Florida Grand Opera studio for their 2017/18 season where he will sing the role of Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor, and 1st Nazarene in Salome. Recent appearances include Giorgio in La Gazza Ladra, and Rev. Hale (cover) in The Crucible (Glimmerglass Festival); Luka in The Bear and Mr. Grinder in The Zoo (Odyssey Opera); Superintendent Budd in Albert Herring (Boston Opera Collaborative); Prophet/King in Dark Sisters, Melisso in Alcina, Figaro in The Marriage of Figaro, Immigration Officer in Flight and Nick Shadow in The Rake’s Progress (The Boston Conservatory). In concert, he recently appeared as the soloist in Verdi’s Requiem in London, at a recital at the MFA Boston and as curator of John Cage’s SongBooks also at the MFA. He returns for more collaborations with the MFA in the Fall of 2017 to curate and perform a newly devised work.
BRAD RAYMOND | Tenor
Brad Raymond is a BLO Jane and Steven Akin Emerging Artist alumnus. He recently appeared in Candide (Glimmerglass Opera); Eugene Onegin (Opera Theatre Middlebury); Candide (Opera Toulouse and Opera Bordeaux); Manon Lescaut (Chautauqua Opera); and Amahl and the Night Visitors (Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra). His opera credits also include Opera Saratoga, Aspen Opera Theater, and Columbus Opera. In December, he performed the role of the Governor in Candide in his European debut with Opera Theater Toulouse and Bordeaux Opera. Raymond has also won prizes in numerous singing competitions, including First Prize in the National Opera Association Regional Competition, a Semi- finalist in the Joy in Singing Competition, Second Place in the Fielder Grant Competition, a Finalist in the Merola Opera Program Auditions, numerous First Place awards in both district and regional National Association for the Teachers of Singing competitions, a Full Scholarship to tour Austria as a soloist for the Irving Chorale, and the award for Best Male Vocalist in the City of Austin as named by the Austin Critics’ Table for the title role in Albert Herring.
SARA WOMBLE | Soprano
Sara Womble is a 2016/17 BLO Jane and Steven Akin Emerging Artist making her mainstage debut. In the summer of 2016, she was an Apprentice Artist at Opera NEO, where she sang Zerlina in Don Giovanni. Ms. Womble received her Master’s degree from Boston University, where her roles included La Fée in Cendrillon, Rosalba in Florencia en el Amazonas, Ruth Baldwin in Later the Same Evening, and Presendia in Dark Sisters. During the 2015/16 Season, Sara was a semi-finalist in the Mildred Miller International Voice Competition, the Rochester Oratorio Society Competition and the Cooper-Bing International Vocal Competition. Before her singing career, Ms. Womble graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude from Duke University, where she double-majored in English and Vocal Performance. She will return for BLO’s 2017/18 Season as Shepherd Boy in Tosca.
FELICIA GAVILANES | Mezzo-soprano
Felicia Gavilanes joins Boston Lyric Opera as a 2016/17 Jane and Steven Akin Emerging Artist, making her company debut. The 2017/18 season will bring Ms. Gavilanes to Havana, Cuba, to sing the title role in Dido and Aeneas (Teatro Lírico Nacional de Cuba). Other roles include Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, Baba the Turk in The Rake’s Progress and Tisbe in La Cenerentola (Florida State Opera); Mrs. DeRocher in Dead Man Walking and Asakir in Sumeida’s Song (Boston Opera Collaborative); Flora in La Traviata (Opera Providence). Recent concert performances include the role of Maria in Respighi’s Lauda per la Natività del Signore (Gulfshore Opera); Alto Soloist in Haydn’s Paukenmesse (Fine Arts Chorale); Queen Jezebel/Angel in Mendelssohn’s Elijah (Tallahassee Community Chorus). Ms. Gavilanes joined the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra as a featured soloist for their concert Mozart in the Jungle. Ms. Gavilanes is a recent winner of Mobile Opera’s Madame Rose Competition, a finalist in MetroWest Opera’s Competition for Emerging Artists, and recipient of prestigious fellowships including the Gallaher Award, the Beaulieu Award in Opera and the Edith S. Joel Fellowship in Opera.
EMMA SORENSON | Mezzo-soprano
Emma Sorenson recently debuted as Isabelle Eberhardt in Chicago Fringe Opera’s production of Missy Mazzoli’s Song from the Uproar: The Lives and Deaths of Isabelle Eberhardt. This summer, Ms. Sorenson will be returning to the role as a Young Artist understudy with Cincinnatti Opera’s Hänsel und Gretel later this summer. She is a 2016/17 BLO Jane and Steven Akin Emerging Artist, and she made her debut with the Company as Frou Frou in the 2016 production of The Merry Widow, and will be returning next season to sing the role of Mary Paterson in The Nefarious, Immoral but Highly Profitable Enterprise of Mr. Burke & Mr. Hare. Recently, Ms. Sorenson was engaged as an Apprentice Artist with Des Moines Metro Opera where she sang the role of Javotte in Manon, and Flower in Rappaccini’s Daughter. She has also performed several mainstage roles with The Boston Conservatory including Lucretia in The Rape of Lucretia, and Dritte Dame in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte. Ms. Sorenson is the recipient of the 2016 Encouragement Award at The Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions in the St. Louis district, and previously won the Ileana Ingraham Encouragement Award at the auditions in the Kansas City district. She also recently advanced to the Second Round of the 2017 Classical Singer Competition in the Emerging Professional category.
SANDRA KOTT Concertmaster
ANNIE RABBAT Principal
KENNETH STALBERG Principal
ARON ZELKOWICZ Acting Principal
ROBERT LYNAM Principal
LINDA TOOTE Principal
NANCY DIMOCK Principal
JAN HALLORAN Principal
ELAH GRANDEL Acting Principal
KEVIN OWEN Principal
JESSE LEVINE Acting Principal
JOHN TANZER Acting Principal
* Boston Lyric Opera Debut
† Boston Lyric Opera Jane and Steven Akin Emerging Artist
‡ Boston Lyric Opera Jane and Steven Akin Emerging Artist Alumni
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.
The Marriage of Figaro: A Student Study Guide
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Reviews & Photos
The Reviews are In!
“A cast of singers so marvelous that one would be lucky to hear them do “Marriage of Figaro” anywhere they offered it”
“Under the baton of David Angus, the orchestral sound was lush and lean”
“One of Mozart’s finest works, a madcap comedy of lies, intrigue and love…but a story about the power of female friendship as well”
“The extraordinarily high level of singing qualify this as one show not to be missed.”
“A young, capable, and energetic cast, a lively staging, and an intimate venue to put it all across.”
“An impeccable cast and tight staging”
“[Evan Hughes and Emily Birsan] show fine, well-matched voices and lithe Mozartean instincts.”
“Emily Birsan [was] a brilliant Susanna”
“Emily Fons [as Cherubino] shares a delightful chemistry with Birsan’s Susanna.”
“Nicole Heaston anchors the production as a model Countess…[she] basked in applause”
– Boston Musical Intelligencer
“Figaro” demands singers who can act, and the composer would have been quite pleased indeed. The entire cast impressed.”
“Any opportunity to see and hear Mozart at his wittiest, performed so brilliantly, is a chance that shouldn’t be missed.’
“Hughes and Birsan [have] genuine musicality and sparkling presence.’
“Heaston brought the house down with an exquisite rendering of the Countess’ aria.’”
– South Shore Critic