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<<  -- 2 --  Maria Nockin    INCISIVE MUSICIANSHIP

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Soon, he would be teaching music to the palace's young princesses. Eventually, he was sent abroad to secure business deals. One of the countries he visited was Spain. When he returned home, he began to write plays utilizing his first hand knowledge of Spanish culture and customs. Le Mariage de Figaro, the second play in his trilogy about the Spanish Count and Countess Almaviva, was accepted for performance by the French censor in 1781. Unfortunately, It was read by King Louis XIV who insisted it be banned. It was still read privately, however, so there was a great deal of pressure on the government to allow the play to be staged. By 1784, the king could hold out no longer, and it was performed before tumultuous Parisian crowds.

Two years after the première of the play, on 1 May 1786, the opera was first performed at Vienna's Burgtheater where it only ran for nine performances. It was a decade after the American Revolution and only a few years before insurrection began in France where Austrian princess, Marie Antoinette, had become queen.

Patricia Risley as Cherubino and Lisa Saffer as Susanna in Arizona Opera's 'The Marriage of Figaro'. Photo © 2006 Tim Fuller
Patricia Risley as Cherubino and Lisa Saffer as Susanna in Arizona Opera's 'The Marriage of Figaro'. Photo © 2006 Tim Fuller

On 10 November 2006, Mozart and DaPonte's once revolutionary piece was performed by Arizona Opera in Tucson. Originally seen in Banff, Canada, the settings by Susan Benson consisted of walls painted in the style of Watteau and Fragonard that completely put onlookers into the ambiance of the eighteenth century. Her costumes and their underpinnings, too, were absolutely authentic as to the period. Stage director Sir Thomas Allen told the rather complicated story fluently and in an easily understandable manner. He helped each singing actor create a character, as well.

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Copyright © 3 December 2006 Maria Nockin, Arizona USA

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