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Ensemble

A Magnetic Presence

Mozart's 'Figaro' at San Diego Opera,
reviewed by MARIA NOCKIN

 

Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais (1732-1799), who wrote the original play on which Mozart's opera is based, was a famous watchmaker, inventor and an arms dealer who espoused revolutionary causes. To opera lovers, however, he is best known for plays which revolve around the street-smart servant, Figaro, a character which was to some degree based on the personality of the author. Beaumarchais first achieved renown as the maker of tiny functional watches, but today he is remembered for having written the most important literary works of his time: Le barbier de Séville, Le mariage de Figaro and La mère coupable.

Martin Zysset as Don Basilio in San Diego Opera's production of Mozart's 'The Marriage of Figaro'. Photo © 2007 Ken Howard
Martin Zysset as Don Basilio in San Diego Opera's production of Mozart's 'The Marriage of Figaro'. Photo © 2007 Ken Howard

Although the play, Le Mariage de Figaro, was passed by the French censor in 1781, King Louis XVI read the manuscript and personally forbade its performance. It was, however, printed and read in many households. It was also acted out privately by amateurs, but not until 1784 was it finally premièred by a professional company.

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Copyright © 30 May 2007 Maria Nockin, Arizona USA

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Classical Music Programme Notes for concerts and recordings, by Malcolm Miller