Figaro and Susanna, servants at Count Almaviva's estate, face obstacles as they plan their wedding. Debt, jealousy and lechery stand in their way. By plotting mischievously, they are finally able to marry.
Figaro and Susanna, servants at Count Almaviva’s estate, are about to get married. The Count has lost interest in his wife, the Countess, and has become infatuated with Susanna. Moreover Figaro has a debt to the old Marcellina, which he is struggling to pay back. He's promised to marry Marcellina if he cannot pay.
The young page Cherubino is flirting with all the girls on the estate. He's particularly interested in the Countess. The Count wants Cherubino to join his regiment but Cherubino cleverly manages to avoid being sent away.
In the end everything works out well. Figaro and Susanna can marry and the Count has to beg the Countess to forgive him for his lecherous behaviour.
"The Marriage of Figaro"
Opera in 4 acts
Sung in Italian
About 3 hours + intervals
Figaro is Count Almaviva’s manservant and his fiancée Susanna is the Countess’s chambermaid. They are preparing for their wedding and Figaro is measuring the space for the bridal bed, while Susanna is trying on her bridal bonnet. Figaro is very satisfied with the room, ideally close to the Count’s chambers and the Countess’s apartment. Susanna is less pleased and warns Figaro that if he would be sent away, the Count could be in their room in no time making inappropriate advances towards her. She fears that he is going to reinstate the old feudal right of a nobleman going to bed with the servant girl on the wedding night, even before her husband is allowed to sleep with his bride. Figaro is confident that he can handle the situation. Both leave the room.
Dr. Bartolo arrives with his old housekeeper, Marcellina. Figaro has borrowed a large sum of money from her. He promised that if he couldn't pay the money back within the time agreed upon, he would have to marry her. Since the time has eloped Marcellina has decided to sue Figaro. Bartolo promises to assist her, since he also has a bone to pick with Figaro.
Bartolo leaves and Susanna comes back. Marcellina and Susanna argue before Marcellina leaves. The page Cherubino arrives. He is infatuated with all women, and in particular with the Countess.
He wants Susanna to help him because the Count wants to punish him. The Count discovered Cherubino courting the gardener’s daughter Barbarina. Cherubino asks Susanna to beg the Countess to help him.
The Count arrives and Cherubino hides behind the chair, because he doesn’t want to be seen together with Susanna. The Count, finding Susanna alone, tries to become more intimate with her and even promises her money if she accepts his advances.
Unexpectedly the music teacher Don Basilio enters and the Count, who doesn’t want to be found alone with Susanna, hides behind the chair. Cherubino manages to leave his hiding-place in time and jumps onto the chair, while Susanna covers him with a dress.
Basilio, who is a notorious gossipmonger, tells Susanna that the page seems to be very interested in the Countess. Hearing that, the Count leaves his hiding-place and angrily relates how he found Cherubino together with Barbarina under the kitchen-table. To illustrate how he lifted the table-cloth, he lifts the dress from the chair – and who is there: Cherubino of course! The Count is furious, but he knows that the page must have heard his advances towards Susanna, and he doesn’t want this to be known by the Countess.
Cherubino is finally saved by a group of peasants entering. Led by Figaro, they want to hail the Count for his decision to allow Susanna to be married unsullied, although the Count has not formally expressed it. ‘Not now’ he says, ‘later’. Then he forgives Cherubino for his behaviour but sends him away to his regiment in Seville. Figaro mocks the unhappy page. Cherubino will have to leave his luxury life at the court and, even worse, there will be no women in his military life.
The Countess’s chambers
Alone, The Countess laments her husband's infidelity. Susanna comes to help her dress and assures her that the Count has no plans to seduce her.
Figaro explains that he has a plan to distract the Count from interfering with their wedding. He is going to send anonymous letters to him and has already dispatched one, where he reveals that the Countess is going to have a rendezvous this evening. He also tells the Countess to keep Cherubino around and dress him up as a girl. He leaves and Cherubino arrives.
Susanna asks Cherubino to sing a song he has written for the Countess, which he does with blushing cheeks. The Countess shows Cherubino the military commission. She notices that the Count was in such hurry that he forgot to seal it.
Now the two women begin to transform Cherubino into a girl and Susanna teaches him how to walk and behave. Then she leaves the room to fetch a dress for the page.
While she is away the Countess and the boy hear the Count approaching and Cherubino hides in the closet. The Count demands to be let in and the Countess unlocks the door. There is a sound heard from the closet and the Count tries to open it, but it is locked. ‘It is only Susanna’, says the Countess, ‘trying on her wedding-dress’.
Susanna comes back without being seen by the Count and the Countess. When the Count doesn’t get an answer from within the closet, he leaves together with the Countess, to get some tools to open the door with. He locks all the doors to prevent the “intruder” from escaping. When they are gone Cherubino jumps through the window and Susanna takes his place in the closet.
When the Count and Countess return, The Countess that Cherubino is in the closet. The Count is furious and draws his sword to kill the page but when the door opens they are both surprised to see Susanna. The Countess explains that it was just a joke and the Count is ashamed of his behaviour. ‘But what about the anonymous letter?’ asks the Count, and the Countess and Susanna explain that it was Figaro who sent it.
Figaro enters ready to start the wedding festivities, but the Count begins to ask him about the anonymous letter. Suddenly, the gardener, Antonio, appears complaining about his flowers being destroyed because someone has jumped from the window. He believes it was Cherubino but Figaro explains that it was he who jumped – and at the same time he hurt his foot. Antonio produces a paper that the running man dropped. He gives it to the Count who orders Figaro to prove that it was he who jumped by identifying the paper.
The Countess and Susanna manages to catch a glimpse of the paper, which is Cherubini’s military assignment, and they also manage to get Figaro to understand that. At that moment Marcellina, Bartolo and Basilio enter the room and demand that Figaro marry Marcellina, since he is unable to pay back the loan. As a consequence the Count postpones the wedding to investigate Marcellina's claim further.
A beautiful hall decorated for the wedding
Alone, The Count is brooding on the situation. Susanna enters and promises to meet him secretly in the garden later that night. When she leaves the Count overhears her telling Figaro that he has won the case. He understands that he has been fooled and decides to punish Figaro through forcing him to marry Marcellina.
At the lawsuit that follows the Count maintains that Figaro has to marry Marcellina, but Figaro maintains that he cannot get married without his parents’ consent. He doesn’t know who his parents are because he was kidnapped from them when he was a baby. He adds that he knows that he is of noble descent thanks to a tattoo on his body. Marcellina and Bartolo ask him about the tattoo and it turns out that he is their illlegitimate son. There are hugs and rejoicing and in the midst of this Susanna arrives with a sum of money to pay back Figaro’s debt. When she sees Figaro and Marcellina embrace each other she turns furious and slaps her future husband’s face. Marcellina explains the situation and Susanna joins the celebrations. Bartolo and Marcellina decide to marry that evening too. When everybody else has left, Barbarina asks Cherubino to go with her home so that they can dress him up as a girl.
The Countess is heartbroken, her happiness is gone. Antonio tells the Count that Cherubino is still in the house. Susanna arrives and the Countess dictates a letter for Susanna to send to the Count, asking him to meet her in the garden and to bring the pin with which the letter is sealed.
A group of country girls, including the disguised Cherubino, come to honour the Countess with a serenade. The Count enters and becomes furious when he discovers Cherubino. Barbarina intervenes and reminds him that he promised to fulfil her wishes in exchange for some favours and now asks him to allow her to marry Cherubino. The Count, deeply embarrassed, agrees.
The act ends with the double wedding and everyone rejoicing.
The garden at night
Poor Barbarina laments that she has lost the pin, which sealed the letter from Susanna to the Count. She was supposed to give it back to Susanna. Figaro, who passes by, asks her why she's upset. When she tells him he turns furious from jealousy. He complains to his mother and explains that he wants revenge. Marcellina tries to calm him down, but he won’t listen. Figaro leaves and Marcellina decides to inform Susanna about his anger.
Figaro returns, still bitter towards not only Susanna, but all women. The Countess and Susanna arrive, dressed in each other’s clothes. Susanna, who knows that Figaro is listening, sings a love song to her beloved, and Figaro naturally believes the song is addressed to the Count, and is even more jealous than before.
Cherubino turns up and starts flirting with the Countess, believing she is Susanna. The Count, who also is present in the darkness, tries to get rid of the page and aims a blow at him which unfortunately hits Figaro, who is eaves-dropping. Cherubino runs away.
The Count, not recognising his wife, the Countess, tries to seduce “Susanna” and gives her a valuable ring. They disappear.
The real Susanna enters, in the Countess’s clothes, and Figaro at first addresses her with reverence, but soon understands that it is Susanna. He decides to tease her by proposing that they should make love immediately. Susanna turns furious and hits him repeatedly, until Figaro explains that he recognised her voice and that it was all just a joke. They make peace but decide to continue with the prank.
Now the Count returns, disappointed since he cannot find “Susanna”. Figaro then starts declaring his love for the “Countess” and the Count gets mad and summons his staff who arrive with weapons and torches. The Count finds Cherubino, Barbarina, Marcellina and “Susanna” behind the bushes and everybody begs him to forgive Figaro and the “Countess”, but to no avail.
At that moment the real Countess enters and reveals her identity. The count sees the ring he had given to “Susanna” and realises that he has made a fool of himself. He is ashamed and kneels before his Countess and begs her to forgive him. The loving Countess forgives him and everyone is happy.
Count Almaviva – Baritone (lyric)
Married to Countess Rosina, infatuated with Susanna
Countess Rosina Almaviva – Soprano (lyric)
Married to Count Almaviva
Susanna – Soprano (soubrette)
The Countess' maid, engaged to Figaro
Figaro – Bass (lyric)
Personal valet to the count, engaged to Susanna
Cherubino – Mezzo-soprano/Countertenor (lyric)
The Count's page
Marcellina – Soprano/Mezzo-soprano (lyric)
Dr Bartolo's housekeeper
Bartolo – bass (lyric)
Doctor from Seville, also a practicing lawyer
Basilio – Tenor (buffo)
Don Curzio - Tenor (buffo)
Barbarina - Soprano (soubrette)
Antonio - bass (buffo)
The Count's gardener, Susanna's uncle
Place of birth: Salzburg, Austria
Place of death: Vienna, Austria
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was an Austrian composer widely known as one of the greatest composers of all time. He is the the archetype of the classical period together with his contemporaries Haydn and Beethoven. He was a versatile composer writing operas, symphonies, chamber music, piano works, concertos and much more. In his short life he wrote more than 600 works.
Mozart began playing the harpsichord at the age of three and started composing at the age of five. During his childhood he went on tour with his sister, who was also a child prodigy, and his father, Leopold, performing in Europe.
He married into the Weber family. Together with his wife Constanze they had six children of whom two survived infancy.
In 1781 Mozart moved from Salzburg to Vienna. The last 10 years of his life were very productive. His most popular operas; Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, Così fan tutte and Die Zauberflöte were all written during this period. The three first are also known as the “Da Ponte” operas with reference to the librettist.
“What's even worse than a flute? - Two flutes!“
“The music is not in the notes, but in the silence between.“
Mozart had lots of pet animals and was very fond of scatological humour.
Most prominent operas
Bastien und Bastienne 1768
Lucio Silla 1772
La finta giardiniera 1774
Die Entführung aus dem Serail 1782
Der Schauspieldirektor 1786
Le nozze di Figaro 1786
Don Giovanni 1787
Così fan tutte 1789
Die Zauberflöte 1791
La clemenza di Tito 1791
Lorenzo Da Ponte was an Italian, later American, opera librettist, poet and Roman Catholic priest. He wrote the libretti for 28 operas by 11 composers, including three of Mozart's most celebrated operas, Don Giovanni, The Marriage of Figaro and Così fan tutte.
In 1773 Da Ponte moved to Venice, where he made a living as a teacher of Latin, Italian and French. Although he was a Catholic priest, the young man led a dissolute life. While priest of the church of San Luca, he took a mistress, with whom he had two children. At his 1779 trial, where he was charged with "public concubinage" and "abduction of a respectable woman", it was alleged that he had been living in a brothel and organizing the entertainments there. He was found guilty and banished for fifteen years from Venice.
In the United States, Da Ponte settled in New York City first, then Sunbury, Pennsylvania, where he briefly ran a grocery store and gave private Italian lessons while entertaining in some business activities in Philadelphia. He returned to New York to open a bookstore. He became friends with Clement Clarke Moore, and, through him, gained an unpaid appointment as the first professor of Italian literature at Columbia College. He was the first Roman Catholic priest to be appointed to the faculty, and he was also the first to have been raised a Jew.
In New York he introduced opera and produced in 1825 the first full performance of Don Giovanni in the United States, in which Maria García (soon to marry Malibran) sang Zerlina. He also introduced Gioachino Rossini's music in the U.S., through a concert tour with his niece Giulia Da Ponte.
Lorenzo Da Ponte died in 1838 in New York; an enormous funeral ceremony was held in New York's old St. Patrick's Cathedral on Mulberry Street.
2, 2, 2, 2 - 4, 2, 0, 0
Le nozze di Figaro premiered at the Burgtheater in Vienna in 1786. Mozart conducted the first two performances from the keyboard.
Today Le nozze di Figaro is one of the top 10 most performed operas worldwide.
Duet - Cinque, dieci, venti (Figaro, Susanna)
Aria – Se vuol ballare (Figaro)
Aria – Non so più cosa son, cosa faccio (Cherubino)
Aria - Non piu andrai (Figaro)
Aria - Porgi amor (The Countess)
Aria – Voi che sapete (Cherubino)
Aria – Venite inginochhiatevi (Susanna)
Duet – Aprite, presto aprite (Susanna, Cherubino)
Aria - Crudel, perchè fin'ora (The Count, Susanna)
Aria – Hai già vinta la causa... Vedro mentr'io sospiro (The Count)
Aria – E Susanna non vien... Dove sono (The Countess)
Duet – Sull'aria (Susanna, The Countess)
Aria - L'ho perduta (Barbarina)
Aria – Giunse alfin il momento... Deh vieni, non tardar (Susanna)