Le Nozze Di Figaro
In four acts by MOZART.
Text by LORENZO DA PONTE.
This opera may be said to be the continuation of Rossini's "Barbiere di
Seviglia". The text too is taken from Beaumarchais' Figaroade, and the
principal persons in it, we find to be old acquaintances. It is the
same Count Almaviva, now married to Rosina; Figaro, the cunning barber,
has entered the Count's service and is about to marry Rosina's
maid, Susanna. We meet among the others old Doctor Bartolo and
Basilio. Even in the management of the subject, and in the music we
find some resemblance. "Figaro's wedding" has the same character of
gaiety; no storms, very few clouds; there prevails throughout an
atmosphere of sunshine and brightness. After Don Juan, Figaro was
Mozart's darling, and it shines radiantly in the crown of his fame.
There is no triviality in it, as we find in most of the comic operas of
Offenbach and others; it is always noble as well as characteristic in
The text may be paraphrased thus:
Count Almaviva, though married to Rosina and loving her ardently,
cannot bring himself to cease playing the role of a gallant cavalier;
he likes pretty women wherever he finds them, and not withstanding his
high moral principles, is carrying on a flirtation with Rosina's maid,
the charming Susanna. This does not hinder him from being jealous of
his wife, who is here represented as a character both sweet and
passive. He suspects her of being overfond of her Page,
Cherubino.--From the by-standers, Doctor Bartolo and Marcellina, we
hear, that their old hearts have not yet ceased to glow at the touch of
youth and love; Bartolo would fain give his affections to Susanna,
while Marcellina pretends to have claims on Figaro.
These are the materials which are so dexterously woven into the
complicated plot and which furnish to many funny qui-pro-quos.
In the second act we find Cherubino the Page in the rooms of the
Countess, who, innocent and pure herself, sees in him only a child; but
this youth has a passionate heart and he loves his mistress ardently.
Mistress and maid have amused themselves with Cherubino, putting him
into women's dresses. The Count, rendered suspicious by a letter,
given to him by Basilio, bids his wife open her door. The women,
afraid of his jealousy, detain him a while, and only open the door,
when Cherubino has got safely through the window and away over the
flower-beds. The Count, entering full of wrath, finds only Susanna
with his wife. Ashamed of his suspicions, he asks her pardon and
swears never to be jealous again. All blame in the matter of the
letter is put on Figaro's shoulders, but this cunning fellow lies
boldly, and the Count cannot get the clue to the mystery. Figaro and
Susanna, profiting by the occasion, entreat the Count at last to
consent to their wedding, which he has always put off. At this moment
the gardener Antonio enters, complaining of the spoilt flower-beds.
Figaro taking all upon himself, owns that he sprang out of the window,
having had an interview with Susanna and fearing the Count's anger.
All deem themselves saved, when Antonio presents a document, which the
fugitive has lost. The Count, not quite convinced, asks Figaro to tell
him the contents; but the latter, never at a loss and discovering that
it is the Page's patent, says, that the document was given to him by
the Page, the seal having been forgotten. The Count is about to
let him off, when Bartolo appears with Marcellina, who claims a
matrimonial engagement with Figaro. Her claim is favored by the Count,
who wishes to see Susanna unmarried. Out of this strait however they
are delivered by finding that Figaro is the son of the old couple, the
child of their early love; and all again promises well. But the
Countess and Susanna have prepared a little punishment for the jealous
husband as well as for the flighty lover.
They have both written letters, in which they ask the men to an
interview in the garden. Susanna's letter goes to the Count, Rosina's
to Figaro. Under the wings of night the two women meet, each, her own
lover, but Susanna wears the Countess' dress, while Rosina has arrayed
herself in Susanna's clothes.--
The Countess, not usually given to such tricks, is very anxious. While
she awaits her husband, Cherubino approaches, and taking her for
Susanna, he, like a little Don Juan as he is, makes love to her.
Hearing the Count's steps, he disappears. Almaviva caresses the
seeming Susanna, telling her nice things and giving her a ring, which
she accepts. They are observed by the other couple and the sly Figaro,
who has recognized Susanna, notwithstanding her disguise, denounces the
Count to her, vows eternal love and generally makes his bride burn with
wrath. In her anger she boxes his ears, upon which he confesses to
having known her from the first, and at once restores her good
Seeing the Count approach, they continue to play their former roles,
and the false Countess makes love to Figaro, till the Count accosts her
as "traitress". For a while she lets him suffer all the tortures of
jealousy, then the lights appear and the Count stands ashamed before
his lovely wife, recognizing his mistake. The gentle Countess forgives
him, and the repenting husband swears eternal fidelity. He speedily
unites the lovers Figaro and Susanna and forgives even the little Page
Next: The Nuremberg Doll