Wolfgang Mozart: The Marriage of Figaro at ENO
London Coliseum, London - Main
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About the Event
Experience opera like never before in this astonishing performance of masterworks by Mozart at London's remarkable London Coliseum.
'The Marriage of Figaro' is a four-act opera buffa composed by Mozart in 1786, on an Italian libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte. One of the most popular operas of all time, the work is based on the second of Beaumarchais 'Figaro' trilogy, controversial for showing servants with the upper hand over their aristocratic masters. Witty and clever, Susanna and Figaro teach the lecherous Count Almaviva a lesson in fidelity, whilst pursuing their own happiness.
Act 1: Figaro and Susanna are soon to be married. Figaro measures their new room, while Susanna tries on her wedding headdress. Figaro is pleased with their new room, but Susanna is concerned about its proximity to the Count's chambers. Their master has propositioned her and plans on exercising his 'droit du seigneur', a right he abolished when he married Rosina, but now wants to reinstate. Figaro plans how he will outwit the lascivious Count.
Dr. Bartolo arrives with Marcellina, his old housekeeper. Figaro borrowed a large sum of money from her, promising marriage if he is unable to repay it she now intends to enforce that promise. Bartolo has agreed to represent Marcellina.
Susanna meets Marcellina and the women very politely cross verbal swords. Susanna secures triumph by congratulating her rival on her impressive age and Marcellina departs in a fury.
The page boy Cherubino arrives and asks for Susanna's help in requesting the Countess to appease the Count over Cherubino's dalliance with the gardener's daughter Barbarina. When the Count appears, Cherubino hides behind a chair, and watches as the Count presses Susanna to give herself to him.
Basilio, the music teacher, arrives, and the Count, not wanting to be caught alone with Susanna, hides behind the same chair. Cherubino escapes just in time, and Susanna scrambles to cover him from view.
Basilio starts to gossip about Cherubino and the Countess, and the Count angrily jumps from his hiding place. As the Count describes how he caught the flirtatious page with Barbarina under the kitchen table, he lifts the fabric covering the boy to illustrate his story, exposing Cherubino to view!
The count is furious, but Cherubino is saved from punishment by the entrance of peasants from the Count's estate. The Count says that while he forgives Cherubino, he is sending the boy to Seville for army duty, effective immediately. Figaro gives Cherubino mocking advice about his new military life.
Act 2: The Countess grieves the loss of her husband’s love. Susanna enters, and admits that the Count is offering a financial reward in return for her consent to his advances.
Figaro joins the women, and explains his plan to distract the Count - he has already sent a letter to the Count that suggests that the Countess has a rendezvous of her own arranged. Figaro suggests Cherubino should be dressed him as a girl, and used as bait to lure the Count into a trap where he can be caught red-handed.
Figaro leaves and sends in Cherubino, who is eager to co-operate. Susanna and the Countess begin Cherubino’s transformation, and Susanna gives the boy a lesson in how to behave and walk like a woman, before leaving the room to get a dress for Cherubino, taking his cloak with her.
The Countess and Cherubino wait for Susanna to return.. Cherubino hides in the closet as the Count demands to be admitted. The Count hears a noise from the closet. Trying to open the door, he finds it locked, and the Countess tells him Susanna is inside.
Susanna re-enters unseen, and hides. Angry and suspicious, the Count leaves the room to find tools to open the closet door, taking the Countess with him, and locking all the doors. Cherubino and Susanna emerge from their respective hiding places, and Cherubino escapes through the window into the garden. Susanna takes Cherubino's place in the closet.
The Count and Countess return. The Countess admits that Cherubino is hidden in the closet. The Count wants to kill Cherubino on the spot, but only Susanna appears when the door is opened. The Countess tells the Count it is a practical joke, to test his faith in her, and the Count begs for forgiveness for his jealousy. When the Count remembers the anonymous letter, Susanna and the Countess tell him that it was written by Figaro.
Figaro arrives to start the wedding celebrations, but the Count questions him about the anonymous note. The gardener, Antonio, arrives to complain man has jumped out of the window and damaged his carnations. Antonio adds that he thought the culprit was Cherubino, but Figaro takes the blame upon himself, and pretends to have injured his foot in jumping. The three conspirators try to discredit Antonio
Marcellina, Bartolo, and Basilio enter, demanding that Figaro honour his contract to marry Marcellina, since he cannot repay her loan. The Count willingly postpones the wedding in order to investigate the matter.
Act 3: The Count broods over the confusing situation. Susanna enters and promises to meet the Count later that night in the garden. As Susanna leaves, the Count overhears her telling Figaro that he has already won the case. Realizing that he is being lured into a trap, he decides to force Figaro to marry Marcellina.
Figaro's hearing follows, and the Count pronounces his judgement. Figaro argues that he cannot marry without his parents' permission, and the ensuing argument reveals that Figaro is the long-lost illegitimate son of Bartolo and Marcellina. A touching reunion takes place.
Susanna enters with the money to release Figaro from his debt, and jumps to the wrong conclusion. Marcellina explains, and Susanna joins the celebration. Bartolo and Marcellina agree to marry that evening in a double wedding.
The Countess, alone, contemplates the loss of her happiness as Antonio informs the Count that Cherubino is not in Seville, but at his cottage.
Susanna updates her mistress on the plan to trap the Count. The Countess dictates a love letter for Susanna to send to the Count, which suggests they meet that night, and instructs the Count to return the pin which fastens the letter.
A group of young peasants, including Cherubino in disguise, arrives to serenade the Countess. The Count arrives with Antonio and, discovers the pageboy. His fury is quickly dispelled as Barbarina reveals that he had once offered to give her anything she wants, in exchange for certain favours. She now claims her reward and asks for Cherubino's hand in marriage. Angry and humiliated, the Count allows Cherubino to stay.
A double wedding ends the act, and Susanna contrives to deliver her letter to the Count. Figaro sees the Count prick his finger on the pin, and laughs, unaware that the note contains an invitation to a tryst with Figaro's own bride.
Act 4: Following the directions in the note, the Count has sent the pin back to Susanna with Barbarina. Figaro and Marcellina see Barbarina searching for the pin, which she has dropped. When Figaro hears the pin, which he has recognised as the one that sealed the note, is Susanna's, he is overcome with jealousy.
Figaro tells Bartolo and Basilio to come to his aid when he gives the signal. Basilio comments on Figaro's foolishness and claims he was once as frivolous as Figaro was, but eventually learned the importance of not crossing powerful people. Figaro is left alone, and muses bitterly on the inconstancy of women.
Marcellina has told Susanna of Figaro's suspicions and plans. Susanna teases Figaro by singing a love song. Figaro believes the song is for the Count, and becomes increasingly jealous in his hiding place behind a bush.
The Countess appears in Susanna's dress. Cherubino shows up and starts teasing the woman he thinks is Susanna. The Count arrives, and gets rid of the pageboy by striking out in the dark. His punch hits Figaro, but Cherubino nonetheless runs off. The Count tries to seduce ‘Susanna’, giving her a jewelled ring. They go off together, but the Countess escapes, hiding from her husband in the dark.
The real Susanna enters, wearing the Countess' clothes. Figaro takes her for the real Countess, and starts to explain the Count's intentions, but he suddenly recognises his bride, and decides to play along. Figaro pretends to be in love with ''my lady''. Susanna, taken in, loses her temper and Figaro finally lets his angry bride know that he recognised her voice from the first.
The Count, unable to find ‘Susanna’, reappears. Figaro gets his attention by loudly declaring his love for ‘the Countess’. The enraged Count calls for armed men - his servant is seducing his wife. The assembled company begs the Count to forgive Figaro and the ‘Countess’, but he loudly refuses, until finally the real Countess reveals her true identity. The Count, seeing the ring he had given ‘Susanna’, realises that he had been trying to seduce his wife. Ashamed, he kneels and pleads for forgiveness, which the Countess generously gives. As the opera ends, the group rejoices that all has worked out for the best.
Approximate duration (min.): 200
Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus
The Marriage of Figaro
Cast / Production
Božidar Smiljanić - Figaro
Louise Alder - Susanna
Johnathan McCullough - Count Almaviva
Sophie Bevan - Countess Almaviva
Hanna Hipp - Cherubino
Susan Bickley - Marcellina
Andrew Shore - Dr Bartolo
Colin Judson - Don Basilio / Don Curzio
Rowan Pierce - Barbarina