Le Nozze di Figaro by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
The tenth date in the 2011 Opera Season is on Friday 14th October 2011 at 19.00 (subscription cycle A) with Le Nozze di Figaro, the second part of the Mozart project with the trilogy on texts by Da Ponte. This will be followed by both the revival of Don Giovanni, with its original set, and Rossini’s Barbiere di Siviglia at Teatro Malibran, of which it is the narrative continuation of the original French source.
A musical comedy in four acts, KV 492 to a libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte based on the comedy La folle journée ou Le mariage de Figaro by Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais (the second episode of the so-called Figaro trilogy), Le Nozze di Figaro had its première at the Burgtheater in Vienna on May 1st 1786, the first fruit of what was to be a lengthy partnership between Mozart and the Italian librettist.
The opera will be performed in a new production by Fondazione Teatro La Fenice, by the very same names behind Don Giovanni: Damiano Michieletto production, Paolo Fantin set, Carla Teti costumes, and Fabio Barettin lighting. The musicians are also nearly all the same: Once again Antonello Manacorda will conduct the Orchestra and Choir of Teatro La Fenice; Markus Werba and Simone Alberghini will alternate as the Conte di Almaviva, Carmela Remigio and Sabina
von Walther will alternate as the Countessa, Rosa Feola and Caterina Di Tonno will alternate as Susanna, Alex Esposito and Vito Priante will alternate as Figaro, and Marina Comparato and Josè Maria Lo Monaco will alternate as Cherubino.
The première on Friday 14th October 2011 will be followed by eight repeat performances, Saturday 15th (subscription cycle C) and Sunday 16th (subscription cycle B) at 15.30, Tuesday 18th (subscription cycle D), Wednesday 19th (no subscription cycle), Thursday 20th (subscription cycle E) and Friday 21st (no subscription cycle) at 19.00, Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd (no subscription cycle) at 15.30.
Composed between 1785 and 1786, the “musical comedy” Le Nozze di Figaro is the first of the three opera masterpieces (Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni and Così fan tutte) that were the fruit of the collaboration between Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and the Italian librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte. Mozart himself suggested the subject, convinced that the musical portrayal of a folle journée – this is the subtitle of Beaumarchais’ comedy Le mariage de Figaro (1781) upon which the libretto is based – was perfectly congenial to his dramaturgical spirit. He was so enthusiastic about a plot with such a fast dramatic pace, rich in events and one that was able to allow the musical study of the psychology involved that he composed the score “four steps at a time”. Le Nozze di Figaro premièred at the Burgtheater in Vienna on 1st May 1786, with anoutstanding cast that included Nancy Storace, Francesco Benucci, Luisa Laschi Mombelli and
Stefano Mandini, and it met with growing success so that the number of encores increased with each performance. Nevertheless, the resounding success of Una Cosa Rara by Da Ponte and Vicente Martìn y Soler on 17th November meant that Le Nozze di Figaro was suddenly taken off the programme. Furthermore, the novelty of Mozart’s masterpiece also meant he was at high risk from being misunderstood: never before had music played such an important role in the creation of dramatic events.
Together with the vast variety of styles he used for characterisation – ranging from the most farcical buffoonery to pages and pages of real religious music (for example in the Contessa’s aria “Dove sono i bei momenti”) -, this amazing dramatical ability of music to create action was in the perfect hands of the artistic partnership between Mozart and Da Ponte. While Da Ponte was well aware that meeting the composer’s requirements did not mean abdicating his own role as writer, he also understood that the text was just one of many factors in the opera. He therefore theorized the supremacy of music in a passage in his Memorie that inevitably refers to the almost thousand bars of music at the end of act in Nozze: In the final act it is the “genius of the chapel master, the singers’ power, the greatest effect of drama that must shine […]. There has to be each and every kind of canto, all the singers have to appear on stage […] to sing alone, in duets, trios, sextets […]; and if the plot does not allow it, it is the poet who has to pave the way so it does”.