Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart "Le Nozze di Figaro" ("The Marriage of Figaro") opera in concert
Performed in Russian (with English supertitles)
World premiere: Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburg, Russia
Premiere of this production: 01 May 2009
The performance has 1 intermission
Running time: 3 hours 15 minutes
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Libretto by Peter Tchaikovsky,
after the comedy by Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais
Stage Director: Alexander Petrov
•World premiere: 1 May 1786, Burgtheater, Vienna;
•Premiere of this production: 1 May 2009, Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburg
Stage Director Alexander Petrov is a man of cheerful, positive disposition. He has refrained from imbuing this opera buffa with, for example, psychoanalytical motifs of a complete travesty, as many “fashionable” colleagues would have done in his place, he has made it a simple though inventive production, meticulously but with great joy.
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The lively and witty production staged by Alexander Petrov lent itself to being seen “in one breath” and drew a warm response from the audience. The merry, classical production of the opera brings to mind all Salzburg performances together (there are “quotations” now from one, now from another). While, at the same time, this quoting from acclaimed productions appears appropriate and unobtrusive. And the performers of the leading roles feel comfortable in the labyrinth of sets and create convincing images.
«I have just returned from the Opéra Comique,
where I heard Le nozze di Figaro for the second time,
and if they perform it again, then I will go again,
and again and again! God, how divinely goodthe music is…»
P. I. Tchaikovsky
In his Memoirs, librettist and dramatist Lorenzo da Ponte, telling of his meetings and talks with Mozart, recalled that it was Mozart who offered him work on a new opera after de Beaumarchais´ scandalously sensational comedy La folle journée, ou Le Mariage de Figaro. De Beaumarchais´ play was staged in Paris in 1784 and proved a terrific success; however, soon staging it became banned everywhere. Rehearsals of Le Marriage de Figaro in the German translation of Emanuel Schikaneder were also stopped in Vienna.
Mozart and da Ponte worked on the opera in secret, telling no-one. When the draught was complete, Lorenzo da Ponte set off to see the Emperor and, having given free reign to the eloquence he controlled to perfection, he convinced Josef II that the opera was utterly safe from a political viewpoint, and that the entire content concerned the family life of a count and countess, and the music filled with various positive qualities. Having listened to some fragments from Le nozze di Figaro (as the opera was entitled), the Emperor permitted rehearsals to begin in Vienna at the Burgtheater. At the first meeting between Mozart and the orchestra and the singers, after bass Francesco Benucci´s performance of Figaro´s aria «Non più andrai, farfallone amoroso…», all vied with each other to cry «Bravo, bravo, maestro!» At other rehearsals the same inspiration was retained, the artistes and musicians constantly calling out «Long live the great Mozart!» It was with no less enthusiasm that the premiere was met, conducted by the composer on 1 May 1786. In its first year, the number of performances of Le nozze di Figaro had it rivalling popular Italian operas, which at that time was an unheard of event. However, Mozart´s enemies somehow succeeded in getting the opera dropped from the repertoire. The subsequent Prague production of the opera in December 1786, seven months after the Viennese premiere, proved a staggering success. It was at that moment that the eternal life of Le nozze di Figaro began. The opera has been staged by almost every major music theatre in the world. In Russia, it was first performed in 1815 by the German Opera Company in St Petersburg. In Russian (apropos, in the timeless translation by the great Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky, who adored this work) the opera was first performed in Moscow on 5 May 1876 by students from the Conservatoire. In St Petersburg Le nozze di Figaro was first performed at the Mariinsky Theatre on 25 September 1901 in a staging by Osip Palechek (V. Kastorsky as Almaviva, M. Cherkasskaya as the Countess, M. Mikhailova as Susanna, D. Bukhtoyarov as Figaro, S. Gladkaya as Cherubino and N. Fride as Marcellina). The next time that Le nozze di Figaro was performed at the Mariinsky Theatre was almost one hundred years later – on 5 April 1994
It is the wedding day of Figaro, Count Almavivaґs faithful servant. He is to marry the mischievous Susanna, personal maid to the Countess.
There is no doubt that the wedding will not pass without incident, because the Count is involved! Even the matter of his wedding gift to the young couple is not without its complications: they have been promised a room linking his apartments with those of the Countess. So convenient – if either of them is needed, they can be on the spot in a moment. Figaro is pleased, but Susanna… Susanna has her suspicions. After all, if the room is so convenient, it means the Count can get to her: Almaviva, she says, wishes to make use of the right to "the first night", the famous "droit de Seigneur" by which landlords may enjoy all the brides on their estates on their wedding night – before the husband may do so.
Figaro cannot believe his ears. After he married the beautiful Rosina, the Count promised to renounce this ancient right. But Figaro is not about to let himself be taken for a ride. Heґs a good servant, but he is not prepared to stand by and be ridden over roughshod.
The marriage is opposed by the ageing duenna Marcellina and her former admirer, Doctor Bartolo. Bartolo can never forget how the cunning Barber of Seville–as Figaro was known at that time–made a fool of him when bringing together Almaviva and Rosina. Now the vengeful old man wishes to get his own back. Marcellina, meanwhile, lent Figaro money in return for a written promise to marry her if he did not repay it. Bartolo hopes to do his worst against the hated Figaro by forcing him to marry Marcellina, even though the duenna still has the power to arouse feelings in him.
Susanna, meanwhile, listens as the young page Cherubino tells of his love for the Countess. But not for her alone. The youth is in love with all the women in the castle and keeps finding himself in all sorts of unfortunate situations. Just recently, the Count found him alone with Barbarina, the young the niece of the gardener Antonio, and gave orders that the boy be expelled from the castle. Only the intervention of the Countess can soothe Almavivaґs anger and Cherubino asks Susanna to put in a good word for him with her mistress. But the Count himself appears at this moment. Hearing his approach, Cherubino hides in fright and thus involuntarily becomes a witness as Almaviva begs of Susanna a meeting. But his Grace too is forced to follow the pageґs example, for in comes the music master, don Basilio, and the Count has no desire to be caught alone with Susanna. He too hides. Don Basilio relates the story of Cherubinoґs love for the Countess and, beside himself; the Count leaps form his hiding place. His anger grows when he sees Cherubino.
Things are not going well for the page, but Susanna comes to his aid. Hinting that Cherubino has witnessed the Countґs outpourings. The girl manages to calm her masterґs anger. Almavivaґs embarrassment increases when he is forced to listen to the assembled peasants who have come to thank their Lord for renouncing his "droit de Seigneur". It is Figaro who has brought them to the castle in an effort to push forward his wedding to Susanna. Almaviva is forced to agree to the wedding and agrees to be a guest at the celebrations. Taking advantage of the Countґs confusion, Cherubino manages to gain his pardon, but only on condition that he join the army immediately. Figaro sets out before the pampered page all the "horrors" of military service.
The Countessґs Room
Susanna, the Countess and Figaro have decided to teach the Count a lesson. Susanna is to promise him a rendezvous but Cherubino will appear in her place, wearing her dress. Cherubino has the dress on when Almaviva is heard and the page is forced to hide in the neighboring room. But the Count notices that the door of the room is locked. He demands that the Countess give him the key, and when she refuses to give it to him, he goes off to get tools to break the door down, insisting that the Countess accompany him. Susanna immediately takes Cherubinoґs place in the room, the page jumping from the window. The Count returns triumphant – now he can prove that his wife has been unfaithful. The door is broken open and Susanna emerges from the room. Covered in shame. Almaviva is forced to beg his wifeґs pardon. But then the gardener Antonio unexpectedly appears with a broken flowerpot – someone just jumped from the window, he says, and damaged his flowers. Figaro comes to the rescue of the Countess and Susanna, declaring that it was he, again forcing the Count to apologize. Enter Bartolo, Don Basilio and Marcellina, come to lodge the old duennaґs claim for breach of promise. Figaro has no money to pay his debt – and he is to answer before a court.
A room in the castle
The court (in the person of Count) has made its decision in favor of Marcellina. Figaro is saved, however, when it becomes clear that he is in fact the son of Marcellina and Bartolo, who was stolen as a baby. The joyful parents decide to celebrate their wedding along with that of their newly found son.
During the wedding celebrations Figaro notices that the Count is reading a note. In it Susanna has appointed a meeting with the Count. She has agreed to change dresses with the Countess, and so the woman who will meet the Count in his garden that night will in fact be his wife. The note is sealed with a pin. If the Count agrees to be in the appointed place at the appointed time, he must return the pin to Susanna. Figaro, unaware of his wifeґs plot, becomes suspicious and decides to follow the Countґs movements.
The garden of Almavivaґs castle
In the moonlight, Barbarina is looking for a pin she has lost in the grass. In answer to Figaroґs question as to what she is doing, she answers that the Count has ordered her to deliver the pin to Susanna. Taken aback at his brideґs lack of faith, Figaro decides to lie in wait for the Count and Susanna. Susanna appears in the Countessґs dress – which leads to a multitude of misunderstandings. But all comes right in the end. The Count begs his wifeґs forgiveness and the Countess grants it.
A day of commotion and confusion draws to a close in merry celebrations.
1 Theatre Square
Mariinsky-2 (New Theatre):
34 Dekabristov Street
Mariinsky Concert Hall:
20 Pisareva street