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

every part.



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

humor.



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

Cherubino.





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