- Composer:Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
- Librettist:Lorenzo da Ponte
- Creation date:1786
- Creation place:Austria
- Acts number:4
- Reference:K. 492
- Original language:Italian
- Opera House of original production:Burgtheater
- Original orchestration:2/2/2/2-2/2-timp-clavecin-strings
This is one of the most divine operas in the repertoire and perhaps the most perfect ever written. The genius of Mozart transcends the loquacity of his librettist, Lorenzo Da Ponte, who scrubbed the controversial play by Beaumarchais, Le Mariage de Figaro, leaving only the parts devoted to human nature. The plot, which is one of the most humorous, is full of surprises and unexpected twists that contribute to the balance of the four acts. Yet, underlying the humour and farcical situations, the anger of Figaro, the arrogance of the Count, the cleverness of Susanna or the melancholy of the Countess probe the depths of the human heart and mind, adding a touch of nostalgia to these games of chance and love. Mozart is the real playwright behind this Marriage, inserting, in this brilliant narrative, arias that turn into duets, from duets into trios and from trios into tutti, with soaring melodies that spring forth and are renewed. It is an opera that readily deserves its full title of Day of Madness, punctuated with moments of grace, as profound as life itself and as universal as the music of Mozart.
The palace of the Count Almaviva, near Seville, at the end of the 18th century. Susanna, the Countess Almaviva’s chamber maid, and Figaro, the Count’s personal valet, are preparing for their wedding.But their marriage could be spoiled by the advances of the Count who is determined to seduce the bride-to-be. With the help of the Countess, who has been neglected by her philandering husband, Figaro and Susanna must use all their imagination to outsmart Almaviva, avoid the traps laid by Marcellina, Bartolo and Basilio, and take advantage of Cherubino's awkward attempts at romance. Punctuated by a series of improbable events, which evolve into touching moments of melancholy, the Day of Madness will see each mask fall one by one, revealing the true nature of the wearer’s heart.
Suzanne, chambermaid to Countess Almaviva, and Figaro, valet to the Count, are actively preparing for their wedding: but things prove to be complicated, as Almaviva intends to exercise his droit du seigneur on the future bride, and Figaro must deal with the machinations of Marcelina, Basilio and Bartholo. And then there is the skirt-chasing young page, Cherubino, who surprises Count Almaviva as he woos Suzanne. To get rid of him, Almaviva decides to send him to the army. Figaro waxes ironical about the little page’s new assignment.
In order to turn Count Almaviva away from Suzanne, Figaro has set up a plan: in a note, he will make the Count think that the Countess, his sadly neglected wife, is to meet a fictitious lover that very evening. And for the assignation that the Count has given Suzanne in the garden, her place will be taken by Cherubino dressed as a woman! Cherubino sighs.
The complications multiply: Suzanne and the Countess have managed to play the Count, and the Count saw nothing but fire when Cherubino, hidden in the Countess’s chambers, saved himself by jumping out the window. But from his flower beds Antonio the gardener has seen everything – or so he thinks. He runs to report the scene to his master. Figaro, who missed an episode, finds it difficult not to continue the blunders in front of Almaviva. Marcelina, Bartholo and Basilio arrive, planning to take advantage of the situation to settle scores with Figaro. The greatest confusion reigns.
Count Almaviva considers his vengeance. Was he played or not? Is Suzanne, who agreed to his assignation, concealing something from him? And to think that he can no longer throw Marcellina into Figaro’s arms! By an amazing coup de théâtre, the matron is revealed to be Figaro’s mother! Countess Almaviva sings of her nostalgia for happy times.
Night, and in the castle garden all the uncertainties and pretences are coming together: Will Suzanne deceive her Figaro? No, of course not; Figaro is simply unaware that Suzanne and the Countess have connived to confuse the Count. Furthermore, the Count is caught in his own trap, and when he thinks he is surprising his wife in flagrante delicto, he is the one who must beg final forgiveness – in the most tender and luminous fervour ever written by Mozart. The marriage of Figaro and Suzanne will take place – the final general joy promises that.