Comic opera by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte based on a stage comedy by Pierre Beaumarchais, “La folle journée, ou le Mariage de Figaro”
World premiere on May 1, 1786 at the Burgtheater in Vienna
Premiere at the Estonian National Opera on February 3, 2017
“Le nozze di Figaro” follows the Almaviva household through a single turbulent day as the Count’s page Cherubino fools around with the gardener’s daughter Barbarina, but adores the Countess, who loves the Count, who goes after Susanna, who is engaged to Figaro, who has promised to marry Doctor Bartolo’s wife Marcellina, who is old enough to be his mother… and all this on the eve of Figaro’s marriage!
“Le nozze di Figaro” was Mozart’s first collaboration with librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte. They would soon create “Don Giovanni” and “Così fan tutte”. Lorenzo Da Ponte adapted Pierre Beaumarchais’ controversial play that at the time was banned in Vienna due to its scandalous portrayal of servants outwitting their aristocratic masters. But Da Ponte focuses less on the original satire and more on the timeless issues of the comedy genre. Following its successful Viennese premiere, the opera became a major success when produced in Prague a few months later – a triumph for Mozart that led to the commission to write “Don Giovanni”.
Mozart’s score is sunny and sublime with a bubbling overture, brilliantly crafted arias and animated ensemble scenes that won the hearts of its early audiences. Encores became so numerous that after the work’s third performance the emperor allowed encores only for arias to keep the performance to a sensible length.