Le nozze di Figaro

Commedia per musica in four acts (1786)

Music by

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Text by

Lorenzo Da Ponte after Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais

»Le nozze di Figaro« is rightly regarded as a prime example of a musical comedy. Together with his librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte, the 30-year-old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart succeeded in creating an opera that set new standards – with its vitality, its plot reversals at lightning speed, its multiple trials and tribulations and a score that conveys both profound sensitivity and an animated spirit.

With Mozart's three Da Ponte operas, director Vincent Huguet and conductor Daniel Barenboim embark on a journey through time as the characters evolve and transform. The loves and sufferings of young people, in the form of both real and feigned emotions, come to the stage – whereby in the case of »Figaro«, which forms the second part of this trilogy, these living environments are set in the '80s with their special style and charm. Pace and situational comedy come to the fore just as much as pensiveness and melancholy. The immense art of differentiation, as so vividly revealed in Mozart's marvelous work, will also be reflected in the musical and scenic presentation. With »Così fan tutte« and »Don Giovanni«, the other two Da Ponte operas will be staged in the 2021/22 season, as parts one and three of this trilogy conceived especially for the Staatsoper.




Figaro is delighted about the new room that he will share with Susanna after their marriage. His bride to be points out that the room is placed not only so that both of them can quickly reach their bosses, but also so that the Count can quickly get to Susanna. For some time now, he had been making advances on her and doing everything to win her over. But Figaro wants to frustrate the count’s plans.
But danger is lurking not only from the Count, but also from another side: Marcellina remembers a promise that Figaro once made her to marry in return for a loan, while the doctor Bartolo, still hurt over a story from the past, swears his vengeance. But Susanna is left unimpressed by Marcellina’s claims.
The young Cherubino sings of his love for all the women of the house. He asks Susanna for her help, since the Count sent him off to serve in the army. When the Count enters the room, he hides. The Count in turn, who once again tries to seduce Susanna, hides when the music teacher Basilio arrives, but then confronts him for maliciously spreading rumors. The Count discovers Cherubino, just as he recently did in Barbarina’s room. He orders his immediate departure for the regiment. 
Leading a group of young people, Figaro appears asking permission to marry Susanna. The Count decides to delay the festivities for a while, and secretly hopes for Marcellina. Figaro pretends to says goodbye to Cherubino with a grand gesture.

The Countess is convinced that the Count no longer loves her. Disappointed by her husband, she agrees to Susanna and Figaro’s plan to disguise Cherubino as a young woman to reveal the Count’s infidelity. Once he has been revealed in this way, the count can no longer delay the marriage. To pique the count’s jealousy, Figaro had an anonymous letter written to him mentioning a rendezvous the Countess had with a secret admirer. After singing a cavatina for the Countess and Susanna, Cherubino is dressed as a girl.
While this transformation is still in progress, the Count appears. To avoid being discovered anew, Cherubino is quickly hidden in the Countess’ wardrobe. But the Count suspects him there and demands an explanation from the Countess. She tries to convince him that Susanna is the one hiding there, trying on a wedding dress. But the Count wants certainty and demands that the lock be broken open. He leaves with the Countess. In the meantime, Susanna takes Cherubino’s place, while the young boy escapes through a window to the garden. Susanna surprises both Count and Countess, when she (and not Cherubino) leaps out of hiding. The Count is forced to ask both women for forgiveness, but accuses Figaro when he arrives of being the author of the letter that had found its way to his hands. Figaro calms the situation and asks the Count once again for permission to marry. The gardener Antonio appears and reports that someone has jumped out of the window. Figaro claims it was him. But upon jumping, the person dropped something, says Antonio. The Count recognizes Cherubino’s commission. Once again, Figaro saves the situation by referring to the missing seal. The Count finds supporters in Marcellina, Bartolo, and Basilio, who all insist that Figaro keep his marriage promise. As long as this matter is not cleared up legally, the wedding between Susanna and Figaro cannot take place.

The Count reflects on the events of the past hours. Susanna uses an excuse to arrange a meeting that evening with him in the garden. In the case of Marcellina vs. Figaro, she sees her future husband as the sure winner. But the Count will never allow that to happen.
The judge Don Curzio decides in favor of Marcellina: Figaro has to pay back the sum she lent him or marry her. When he reveals his mysterious past as a foundling, Marcellina recognizes her long lost son. It is also revealed that Bartolo is Figaro’s father, so that unexpectedly a family is reunited. Susanna, who is initially annoyed by the new harmony between Figaro, Marcellina, and Bartolo, learns of the discovery: the two couples plan to celebrate a dual marriage.
The Countess mourns the happy times of her marriage, but hopes that she regains the love of the Count.
In spite of this the Countess and Susanna continue to play with the Count: together they write him a letter to lure him into the nightly darkness of the park, where (the letter claimed) Susanna would await him. In reality, it would be the countess wearing the maid’s clothing. The letter was sealed with a needle that the Count should give as a sign of his agreement to Barbarina.
Barbarina, accompanied by local girls, brings the Countess flowers as presents. Still dressed as a woman, Cherubino is among the group, but is discovered by the Count. But to add another twist, Barbarina reminds him of his promise. Now she asks permission to marry Cherubino. During the wedding festivities, Susanna secretly hands the Count the letter, and the Count promises a wonderful evening to all.

Barbarina has lost the needle that she was supposed to bring back to Susanna. Figaro learns from Barbarina about the planned rendezvous: he feels deceived and becomes increasingly jealous. Figaro, however, is convinced that all women are unfaithful, which is why men can do nothing but protect themselves. Marcellina informs Susanna about Figaro’s false suspicions: the young bride decides to teach a lesson to her jealous husband. To trick both Figaro and the Count, Susanna and the Countess exchange clothes. In search of Barbarina, Cherubino made his way to the park. He there meets the supposed Susanna (in reality the Countess) and approaches her, but is driven away by the Count, who then once again tries to woo “Susanna.” He only realizes later, when the game of false identities comes to end, that he was courting his own wife. Figaro recognizes Susanna in the Countess’s clothing, and they find their way to one another, The Count, full of remorse, begs to be pardoned and the Countess forgives him. At least for the moment, all are satisfied and continue the nuptial festivities.

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