On this Day:
On May 1, 1786 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s opera “Marriage of Figaro” premiered in Vienna with Mozart himself directing.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791), baptised as Joannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart, was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical period. Despite his short life, his rapid pace of composition resulted in more than 800 works of virtually every genre of his time. Many of these compositions are acknowledged as pinnacles of the symphonic, concertante, chamber, operatic, and choral repertoire. Mozart is among the greatest composers in the history of Western music, with music admired for its “melodic beauty, its formal elegance and its richness of harmony and texture”.
Born in Salzburg, in the Holy Roman Empire, Mozart showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood. Already competent on keyboard and violin, he composed from the age of five and performed before European royalty. His father took him on a grand tour of Europe and then three trips to Italy. At 17, Mozart was engaged as a musician at the Salzburg court but grew restless and travelled in search of a better position.
While visiting Vienna in 1781, he was dismissed from his Salzburg position. He chose to stay in Vienna, where he achieved fame but little financial security. During his final years in Vienna, he composed many of his best-known symphonies, concertos, and operas, and portions of the Requiem, which was largely unfinished at the time of his early death at the age of 35. The circumstances of his death are largely uncertain and have thus been much mythologized.
The Marriage of Figaro (Italian: Le nozze di Figaro, pronounced [le ˈnɔttse di ˈfiːɡaro] (listen)), K. 492, is an opera buffa (comic opera) in four acts composed in 1786 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, with an Italian libretto written by Lorenzo Da Ponte. It premiered at the Burgtheater in Vienna on 1 May 1786. The opera’s libretto is based on the 1784 stage comedy by Pierre Beaumarchais, La folle journée, ou le Mariage de Figaro (“The Mad Day, or The Marriage of Figaro”). It tells how the servants Figaro and Susanna succeed in getting married, foiling the efforts of their philandering employer Count Almaviva to seduce Susanna and teaching him a lesson in fidelity.
Considered one of the greatest operas ever written, it is a cornerstone of the repertoire and appears consistently among the top ten in the Operabase list of most frequently performed operas. In 2017, BBC News Magazine asked 172 opera singers to vote for the best operas ever written. The Marriage of Figaro came in at No. 1 out of the 20 operas featured, with the magazine describing the work as being “one of the supreme masterpieces of operatic comedy, whose rich sense of humanity shines out of Mozart’s miraculous score”.
The Marriage of Figaro continues the plot of The Barber of Seville several years later, and recounts a single “day of madness” (la folle journée) in the palace of Count Almaviva near Seville, Spain. Rosina is now the Countess; Dr. Bartolo is seeking revenge against Figaro for thwarting his plans to marry Rosina himself; and Count Almaviva has degenerated from the romantic youth of Barber, a tenor (in Paisiello’s 1782 opera), into a scheming, bullying, skirt-chasing baritone. Having gratefully given Figaro a job as head of his servant-staff, he is now persistently trying to exercise his droit du seigneur – his right to bed a servant girl on her wedding night – with Figaro’s bride-to-be, Susanna, who is the Countess’s maid. He keeps finding excuses to delay the civil part of the wedding of his two servants, which is arranged for this very day. Figaro, Susanna, and the Countess conspire to embarrass the Count and expose his scheming. He retaliates by trying to compel Figaro legally to marry a woman old enough to be his mother, but it turns out at the last minute that she really is his mother. Through the clever manipulations of Susanna and the Countess, Figaro and Susanna are finally able to marry. (per Wikipedia).
First, a Story:
“Love may be blind, but marriage is a real eye-opener.” – Unknown.
Second, a Song:
Courtesy of kocaonur and YouTube.com, here is Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro Overture (K.492)” performed by the Wiener Symphoniker with Fabio Luisi conducting on their Japan Tour 2006. I hope you enjoy this!
Thought for the Day:
“Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.” – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
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Have a great day!
Dave & Colleen
© 2022 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky