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. Recevete, 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 Label Catalog #
    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 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 Decca 4781600
    2009 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 / EMI Music Distribution 3677332
    2007 BRV 9810
    2007 BRV 9905
    2007 Allegro Corporation 9908
    2007 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 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 Brilliant 92388
    2003 Brilliant 99714
    2003 Aura Classics 1125
    2003 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 7243585520
    2002 IDIS 6376/7
    2002 Naxos 8110186-87
    2002 Andante 3981
    2002 Decca 470573
    2002 Decca 470 860-2DC10
    2002 Opera D'Oro 1328
    2002 EMI Music Distribution 75535
    2001 Music & Arts 1062
    2001 Arkadia 2031
    2001 RCA 63837
    2001 Opera D'Oro 1299
    2000 Arkadia 78057
    2000 Philips 464 920-2PB11
    2000 Gala Records 100601
    2000 Angel Records 73845
    1999 Pearl 9946
    1999 Decca 466369
    1999 Pearl 9375
    1999 EMI Music Distribution 67142
    1999 Accent 98133/5
    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 Arkadia 78015
    1996 Deutsche Grammophon 449728
    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