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Highlights from a classic Marriage of Figaro

This week on The Lyric Stage we have highlights from Mozart's opera from 1786, The Marriage of Figaro. It os based on the play by Beaumarchais, with a libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte. The play is the second of Beaumarchais' trilogy that began with the Barber of Seville, and is a somewhat darker look at the characters of that opera a few years later.

Figaro is now the Count's Major Domo, engaged to Susanna, the countess' maid, and it is their wedding day. The Count wants to bed her before the marriage that same day, and Figaro, the Countess, Susanna and the page Cherubino, spend the day spoiling this plan, while other characters come in with their own agendas to try to ruin the match.

Beaumarchais's version of Figaro ran into censorship problems for subversive references to inherited wealth and social rank, for example. But many of these references remained at the premiere of the play in 1784 only five years before the first Bastille day. But for Mozart's opera, Da Ponte omitted these references entirely 2 years after the premier of the play, giving us a comedy of manners, not a political statement.

This recording from the early 1950's is one of the early collaborations between Herbert Von Karajan and Walter Legge, the legendary producer for EMI.