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'The Marriage of Figaro' in Arizona,
enjoyed by MARIA NOCKIN

 

When Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and his librettist, Lorenzo DaPonte, decided to fashion an opera from Caron de Beaumarchais' French play Le Mariage de Figaro, they were expecting the Viennese public to be almost as anxious to see the opera as Parisian audiences were to see the scandalous play. For Emperor Joseph II, allowing the opera to be staged was a safety valve. He could control the libretto because his censors had the power to shut down all performances if it ridiculed the nobility too harshly.

Marie Plette as the Countess in Arizona Opera's 'The Marriage of Figaro'. Photo © 2006 Tim Fuller
Marie Plette as the Countess in Arizona Opera's 'The Marriage of Figaro'. Photo © 2006 Tim Fuller

Playwright Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais (1732-1799) was a commoner who had earned a great deal of money and joined the privileged class. The character of Figaro is, to some degree, a self-portrait. Beaumarchais started out as a watch maker, having learned the trade from his father. He invented a tiny mechanism that enabled him to construct a ring-sized time piece which he sold to Madame DuBarry. As a result, the watchmaker was brought to court, and he made the most of it.

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Copyright © 3 December 2006 Maria Nockin, Arizona USA

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