Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro), opera, K. 492

    Description by Jennifer Hambrick

    Lorenzo da Ponte wrote the libretto for Mozart's Figaro after falling out with Antonio Salieri, who, as imperial court composer, had obtained the position of court poet for da Ponte. At the time of the opera's composition and first performances, there was a climate of antagonism among factions of Italian musicians and poets living in Vienna, among whom was counted Salieri. Although the efforts of the anti-Mozart Italian clique did not succeed in having Mozart's Figaro banned from the stage, the opera did receive fewer than ten performances in Vienna immediately after its première at the Burgtheater on May 1, 1786. Figaro would have tremendous success in Prague, however, before spreading to other parts of Europe and becoming a classic of the opera buffa repertory. So began the fortuitous Mozart/da Ponte relationship, from which would come two further masterworks, Don Giovanni (1787) and Così fan tutte (1789-1790).

    Mozart admired Pierre Auguste Caron de Beaumarchais' politically radical play Le mariage de Figaro (1781), the second play in what would become a trilogy based on the autobiographical character Figaro. Beaumarchais' Le barbier de Séville had been performed in 1775 and the third play of the trilogy, La mère coupable, would be premièred in 1793. In his Figaro plays, Beaumarchais, who himself was a participant in the Revolution, working towards anti-aristocratic revolutionary ideas, sharply spoofs pre-Revolution French society.

    Mozart's music for Figaro consists of conventional dry and accompanied recitative, aria, and ensemble pieces. The overture, despite having no development section, is essentially in sonata form. Mozart musically conveys the range of Figaro's perturbation in his Act One cavatina, "Se vuol ballare," by whimsically changing the character of his music to correspond with Figaro's machinations. Mozart also imbues Figaro's rondo-form aria, "Non più andrai, farfallone amoroso," with colorful musical depictions of Cherubino's forthcoming military service through dotted rhythms and trumpet arpeggio fanfares. The Countess' cavatina, "Porgi amor," conveys the character's elevated social status through its graceful melodic language. The duet ("Aprite, presto, aprite") between Susanna and Cherubino in Act Two bristles expectantly with its moto perpetuo string writing and nervous, patter vocal declamation. In the Count's and Susanna's Act Three duet ("Crudel! Perchè finora"), the minor mode conveys the Count's initial grief and a shift to major mode, after Susanna agrees to come to the garden, confirms a sense of momentary resolution. Later, in the Count's accompanied recitative ("Hai già vinta la causa!"), the orchestra adds an extra emphasis to his verbal expression of anger and agitation through impetuous dotted rhythms and string tremolos. Through furiously rapid-scale passages and trills, the orchestra maintains this angry intensity in the Count's vengeance aria ("Vedrò mentr'io sospiro"). Barbaina's Act Four cavatina, "L'ho perduta...me meschina!" introduces a minor mode melody of classic Mozartean pathos. The finale of Act Four brings the principal characters to beg the Count's forgiveness and the music swells from a pious hymn-like ensemble to a triumphant fanfare-laden exultation.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Overture. Presto
    2. Cinque dieci
    3. Se a caso madama la notte ti chiama
    4. Se vuol ballare, signor contino (Cavatina)
    5. La vendetta, oh, la vendetta
    6. Via resti servita, madama brillante
    7. Non sò più cosa son, cosa faccio
    8. Cosa sento! tosto andate
    9. Giovani liete, fiori spargete
    10. Non più andrai farfallone amoroso
    11. Porgi amor qualche ristoro (Cavatina)
    12. Voi, che sapete che cosa e amor (Arietta)
    13. Venite, inginocchiatevi
    14. Susanna or via sortite
    15. Aprite presto, aprite
    16. Esci omai, garzon malnato, sciagurato, non tardar (Finale)
    17. Crudel! perchè finora
    18. Hai già vinta la causa! Cosa sento!... Vedro, mentr'io sospiro
    19. Riconosci in questo amplesso
    20. E Susanna non vien! Sono ansiosa... Dove sono i bei momenti
    21. Sull' aria... che soave zefiretto
    22. Ricevete, o padroncina
    23. Ecco la marcia, andiamo!... Amanti costanti, seguaci d'onor (Finale & Chorus)
    24. L'ho perduta... me meschina! (Cavatina)
    25. Il capro e la capretta
    26. In quegl' anni, in cui val poco
    27. Tutto è disposto: l'ora dovrebbe esser vicina; io sento gente... Aprite un po quegl' occhi
    28. Giunse alfin il momento... Deh vieni non tardar, o gioja bella
    29. Pian, pianin le andrò più presso (Finale)

    Appears On

    Year Title / Performer Label / Catalog # AllMusic Rating
    2018
    ICA Classics
    ICAC 5147
    2017
    Warner Classics
    0190295801748
    2017
    Erato
    0190295869090
    2016
    Praga / Praga Digitals
    DSD 350126
    2016
    ZYX Classics
    CLB 10272
    2016
    Deutsche Grammophon
    4795945
    2016
    Warner Classics
    557377
    2016
    Vai / VAI Audio
    VAIA 12823
    2016
    Urania / Urania Records
    WS 121304
    2016
    Various Artists
    Deutsche Grammophon
    4796018
    2015
    Deutsche Grammophon
    B002346910
    2015
    Walhall
    WLCD 0339
    2014
    Decca
    4808155
    2014
    Sony Classical
    88883709262
    2014
    Sony Classical
    88843014172
    2014
    RCA Red Seal
    88843006072
    2013
    Warner Classics
    2013
    Decca
    CDNNNOW 9
    2012
    Erato
    2564662129
    2012
    Decca
    2012
    Accent
    ACC 24269
    2011
    CPO
    777641
    2011
    Fab Four / Membran
    233332
    2011
    Archiv Produktion
    2011
    ZYX Classics / ZYX Music
    10109
    2011
    Decca
    2011
    Warner Classics
    688297
    2011
    Decca
    001621302
    2011
    Guild / Guild
    GMCD 2373/75
    2011
    Deutsche Grammophon
    2011
    Deutsche Grammophon
    4779124
    2011
    Sony Classical
    8869785310
    2010
    Preiser Records
    93469
    2010
    Berlin Classics
    0300116
    2010
    Brilliant Classics
    93966
    2010
    Sony Classical
    8869776152
    2010
    Alto / Musical Concepts
    2501
    2009
    Decca
    4782007
    2009
    Decca
    4781720
    2009
    Documents / Meisterwerke/Membran
    222932
    2009
    Deutsche Grammophon / Universal
    2009
    EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics
    5099996680
    2009
    Various Artists
    Decca
    4781600
    2009
    Various Artists
    Decca
    2009
    EMI Classics / EMI Classics France
    2126812
    2008
    EMI Music Distribution
    5670682
    2008
    Telarc Distribution
    80725
    2008
    EMI Classics / Warner Classics
    5099921295
    2008
    Glyndebourne
    001-62
    2008
    Opus Arte
    0990
    2008
    EMI Classics
    11973
    2008
    Philips
    4646602
    2008
    EMI Classics
    3677332
    2007
    BRV
    9810
    2007
    BRV
    9905
    2007
    Allegro Corporation
    9908
    2007
    Various Artists
    BRV
    9806
    2007
    Arts Archives
    43070
    2007
    Deutsche Grammophon
    000987502
    2007
    Deutsche Grammophon
    0734245
    2007
    EMI Classics
    87894
    2007
    Deca Dance (UK) / Decadance UK Recordings Ltd
    7500992
    2006
    Sony Music Distribution
    86793
    2006
    Various Artists
    Living Era
    CDAJA 5649
    2006
    Caprice Records
    22059
    2006
    Sony Music Distribution
    687759
    2006
    Brilliant
    92875
    2006
    Harmonia Mundi
    2961818
    2006
    Decca
    467067
    2006
    GOP Great Opera Performances
    66339
    2006
    EMI Music Distribution
    358602-2
    2006
    EMI Music Distribution
    36779
    2006
    Philips
    2006
    EMI Music Distribution
    476942-2
    2006
    EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics
    0946367710
    2006
    Naïve
    8904
    2006
    Arte Nova
    82876867222
    2005
    Warner Classics
    4623292
    2005
    EMI
    2005
    Hardy Classic
    6017
    2005
    EMI Classics
    2005
    Decca
    4757045
    2005
    Opera D'Oro
    7018
    2005
    EMI Music Distribution
    66080
    2005
    Brilliant
    92540
    2004
    IDIS
    6428/9
    2004
    Harmonia Mundi
    901818/20
    2004
    Ponto
    1025
    2004
    Myto Records
    41082
    2004
    Harmonia Mundi
    801818/20
    2004
    Philips
    000254002
    2004
    Naxos
    8660102-04
    2004
    Chandos
    3113
    2004
    Various Artists
    Brilliant
    92388
    2003
    Brilliant
    99714
    2003
    EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics
    7243585520
    2003
    Aura Classics
    1125
    2002
    Decca
    470573
    2002
    Naxos
    8110186-87
    2002
    Andante
    3981
    2002
    IDIS
    6376/7
    2002
    Decca
    470 860-2DC10
    2002
    Opera D'Oro
    1328
    2002
    EMI Music Distribution
    75535
    2001
    Music & Arts
    1062
    2001
    Arkadia
    2031
    2001
    Opera D'Oro
    1299
    2001
    RCA
    63837
    2000
    Arkadia
    78057
    2000
    Various Artists
    Philips
    464 920-2PB11
    2000
    Gala Records
    100601
    2000
    Angel Records
    73845
    1999
    Pearl
    9946
    1999
    Decca
    466369
    1999
    Pearl
    9375
    1999
    Accent
    98133/5
    1999
    EMI Music Distribution
    67142
    1999
    Platinum Entertainment
    625
    1999
    Platinum Entertainment
    1401
    1998
    Preiser Records
    90035
    1998
    Opera D'Oro
    1161
    1998
    Astree
    8657
    1998
    Caprice Records
    21586
    1997
    London / Polygram
    455059
    1997
    Astree
    8606
    1996
    Deutsche Grammophon
    449728
    1996
    Arkadia
    78015
    1995
    Telarc Distribution
    80388
    1995
    Deutsche Grammophon
    445903
    1994
    Preiser Records
    90203
    1994
    Teldec
    4509-90861-2
    1994
    Sony Music Distribution
    53286
    1994
    Philips
    438670
    1994
    Archiv Produktion
    439871
    1993
    Bandleader / Bandleader/Valentine
    5076
    1992
    Deutsche Grammophon
    431619
    1992
    Philips
    1992
    Verona Records
    27092
    1991
    Philips
    422540
    1991
    Erato
    45501
    1991
    EMI Music Distribution
    63849
    1991
    EMI Music Distribution
    67261
    1990
    L'Oiseau-Lyre
    421333
    1989
    EMI Music Distribution
    63266
    1987
    EMI Music Distribution
    47978
    1986
    Philips
    416370
    1984
    Decca
    1983
    Decca
    410 150-2DH3
    Grammofono 2000
    78624/25
    Legend
    132
    Arkadia
    614
    Wagram Records
    363
    Verona Records
    28010@13
    EKR
    59
    Brilliant
    92633
    Arkadia
    78011
    London
    417315
    Grammofono 2000
    78665
    EKR
    43
    As Disc
    1108/9
    EMI Music Distribution
    69639
    RCA
    60440
    Deutsche Grammophon
    4775614
    Brilliant
    99714-1/3
    Nota Blu
    93-5140
    Forties
    1509
    Phoenix
    515
    Arte Nova
    92759
    Opera D'Oro
    1390
    Great Opera Performances
    712
    Eklipse
    43
    Orfeo
    296923
    As Disc
    21004
    Legend
    117
    Melodram
    37075
    London
    410150
    Philips
    426231