Le nozze di Figaro
Commedia per musica in four acts (1786)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Lorenzo da Ponte based on
Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais’comedia
»La folle journée ou le mariage de Figaro«
Mozart was particularly interested in music theatre, opera seria and opera buffa. The trilogy of »Da Ponte operas«, written in the mid- to late 1780s based on texts by the eponymous Italian librettist, has achieved fame for a good reason. »Figaro«, which was already a success during Mozart’s lifetime, has become a prime example of a »musical comedy« – admired by many, and a favourite among directors, conductors, singers and audiences. Hardly any other composer has succeeded like Mozart in revealing the finest, most spiritual emotions of his characters through music, and rendering them with such immediacy and precision. Jürgen Flimm’s production brings Mozart’s comedic masterpiece to life by giving the figures space to express their inner worlds, articulate their desires and inclinations, and sharpen and resolve conflicts – all in a relaxed atmosphere by the sea.
Figaro, the former “Barber of Seville,” has advanced to become Count Almaviva’s valet. His position at the castle allowed him to make the acquaintance of the Countess’ chambermaid, the lovely Susanna. They fell in love with one another and now want to marry. But the Count, who has also cast his favoring eye on Susanna, tries everything to stop the marriage. While the court vacations at a villa on the seashore, intrigues and counter-intrigues develop, in a veritable carnival, old debts are balanced and new alliances are forged, and events take surprising turns with chaos and anarchy as well as moments that secure order.
Figaro measures the 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 servants can quickly reach their masters, 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 page Cherubino sings of his love for all the women of the house. He asks Susanna for her help, since the Count has released him from duty and sent him off to serve in the army. When the Count enters Susanna’s 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 the page, just as he recently did in Barbarina’s room. He orders his immediate departure for the regiment.
Leading a group of peasants, Figaro appears asking permission to marry Susanna. The Count decides to delay the festivities for a while, and secretly hopes for Marcellina. Figaro says goodbye to Cherurbino with a grand gesture, but is secretly encouraged to stay.
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. 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. 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 page escapes through the open 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 husband as the sure winner. But the Count will never allow that to happen.
The Countess mourns the happy times of her marriage, but hopes that she regains the love of the Count.
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 and Susanna continue to play with the Count: 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 Graf should give as a sign of his agreement to Barbarina.
Barbarina, accompanied by local girls, brings the Countess flowers. 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. The Count agrees, and the festivities begin. While dancing, 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. Marcellina sings the plight of women who are always treated badly. Figaro, however, is convinced that all women are unfaithful, which is why men can do nothing but protect themselves.
Alone in the nocturnal park, Susanna declares her love of Figaro, with whom she will hopefully soon be united in marriage.
Susanna and the Countess have, as agreed, exchanged clothes. In search of Barbarina, Cherubino made his way to the park. He there meets she 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, as do Barbarina and Cherubino and Marcellina and Bartolo. And the aristocratic couple is also reunited, when the Count, full of remorse, begs to be pardoned and the Countess forgives him. At least for the moment, all are satisfied and rush off to the nuptial festivities.