When the play The Great Day or the Marriage of Figaro was published in France on the eve of the French Revolution, it prompted a scandal. Its author was Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais, a watchmaker, financial speculator, and occasional poet. The play poked fun at contemporary life, sending up an amoral and capricious aristocracy, the corrupt judiciary, and hypocritical political elite. As a result, it was banned before ever seeing the light of day. But it nevertheless caught the attention of the composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, then based in Vienna. With librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte at his artistic side, Mozart defied the censors and set out to create a work for the operatic stage based on the incendiary material. And we all know what happened next: Le nozze di Figaro is one of the most inspired, brilliantly written, and profound operas in music history. A disruptive energy flows through Mozart’s Figaro, setting something new in motion. At first glance, the score indulges in a frenzy of confusing intrigues – but a deeper look reveals subversions of societal norms. And, almost as an aside, the opera unveils musically poignant portraits of the human soul.
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