Mois Année
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"Let's discover the Galilee
with Mozart"
February 2022

Le Nozze di Figaro [1]

Opéra Buffa in 4 acts
Libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte after Beaumarchais
Created May 1st, 1786

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© Mats Bäker 

« There is a universality that must appear on stage... The Mozart theme is always inseparable from the dramatic situation »[2]

 

CHARACTERS :

 

Count ALMAVIVA (Thomas Dolie) ; FIGARO his valet (Robert Gleadow) ; Doctor BARTHOLO (Leonard Bernad) ; Don BASILIO the music master (Paco Garcia) ; CHERUBINO the page (Miriam Albano) ; ANTONIO the gardener (Leonard Bernad) ; Don CURZIO, lawter (Paco Garcia) ; Countess ALMAVIVA (Iulia Maria Dan) ; SUSANNA his chambermaid, engaged to Figaro (Chiara Skerath) ; MARCELLINA the Duenna (Arianna Venditelli) ; BARBARINA Antonio’s niece (Manon Lamaison).

 

“Les Musiciens du Louvre-Grenoble », conducted by Marc Minkowski

Semi-staging by Romain Gilbert.

Sinfonia (Ouverture)

The overture is very famous. It translates perfectly in a short presto movement all the feverishness of this "Folle journée / Mad Day" of weddings conducive to games of hide and seek, disguises, revenge... Theatrically the rule of the unit of time will be respected: a single day filled right to the brim.[3]

Act I


The action takes place near Seville at Count Almaviva’s castle.

Figaro, Count Almaviva's valet, and Suzanne, the Countess' first chambermaid, are soon to be married. While Figaro takes the measurements of the room: “five, ten, twenty, thirty...”, Susanna is in front of her mirror trying on her little wedding hat: “How happy I am now; you’d think it had been made for me” (Duet: “Cinque, dieci”). 
Figaro is delighted with his bedroom that the Count has reserved for them and which adjoins the apartments of the Count and the Countess. Susanna does not want it because she fears the advances of the Count whom she knows to be fickle and who is trying to seduce her and to restore a right of seigneur which he had however abolished with Bazilio (Susanna's music master) as go-between to favor the libertine whims of Almaviva. Figaro does not immediately understand: “If Madame calls you at night, ding ding, in two steps from here you’d be there… and if my master wants me, dong dong: in three bounds I'm ready to serve him..." But Susanna opens his eyes: "It's not his wife who whets his appetite, your Susannetta is..."  (Duet: "Se a caso madama").
While the Countess rings Susanna, Figaro, left alone, begins to see things more clearly... He is determined not to let himself be pushed around. "And if he would dance, my pretty Count, I’ll gladly teach him lessons ... in my own way, guitar, capriole… all of his schemes I’ll turn inside out" (Cavatina "Se vuol ballare").
 
But here come Marcellina, the old Duenna, and Doctor Bartholo. Marcellina who hopes to break the nuptials by claiming a promise of marriage that Figaro would have made to her in exchange for a loan and which she now wants to ask for its execution. Bartholo promises to help her because he would be delighted to take revenge on the one who helped the Count to steal his beautiful Rosine from him (Aria “La vendetta!”), “Revenge is a pleasure reserved for the wise...
As Bartholo leaves the room, Susanna enters and bumps into Marcellina.... There follows an exchange of false courtesies from which Susanna emerges victorious (Duet “Via resti servita”). Marcellina comes out furious.
 
It is now Cherubino's turn to come on stage. He has just been fired by the Count who surprised him with Barberine, Antonio (the gardener)’s daughter. In love with all women[4]Each woman makes his heart beat faster” (Aria “Non so piu”) he is especially troubled by the Countess and would like Susanna to intercede on his behalf.
 
A game of hide and seek will follow.
We hear the Count coming, Cherubino frightened at the idea of ​​finding himself facing him, runs to hide behind an armchair from where he hears the Count's declarations to Susanna: “I want to make you happy, you well know how much I love you. Basilio has told you that already… If you would meet me briefly in the garden at dusk, ah, for this favour I would pay…
Susanna is very embarrassed, she has hidden Cherubino and, when Basilio arrives, it is now the Count who tries to hide. It's a jostling, while the Count hides behind the armchair, Cherubino has just enough time to snuggle up on the armchair, hidden under a dressing gown, Suzanne cleverly covers him with.
Basilio fulfills his role as matchmaker by talking to Susanna about the Count's feelings for her, but can't help getting into the gossip: he saw Cherubino in the vicinity, wouldn't he be around to seduce the Countess?  “Tell me, I'll keep the secret...”  Basilio would like to know the details of a plot "known to everybody!".
 
The Count, unable to stand it any longer, emerges from his hiding place and demands that the little seducer be chased away immediately. Susanna faints. Regaining consciousness, she tries to plead the cause of Cherubino "a mere child".
Not as innocent as that, the damoiseau! and the Count tells how he surprised him the day before, hidden under a table at Barberine's. Combining action with words, he lifts the dressing gown from the armchair and... discovers Cherubino (Trio “Cosa sento?”).
 
The Count, still furious, asks that Figaro be fetched "so that he can see...". An indignant Susanna explains the misunderstanding ,.. and Cherubino defends herself. But …, wonders the Count, Cherubino has heard everything about the declaration!
 
Nothing is going right?  
No! everything calms down with the arrival of Figaro accompanied by a group of peasants who have come to sing the praises of the Count “whose great heart preserves there the spotless purity of a more lovely flower” (Choir “Giovani liete”). The approach is clever.
 
Hurray! The Count agrees to forgive Cherubino on the condition that he enlist in his regiment and leave immediately with the officer's certificate he grants him.
 
The 1st act ends with the aria "Non più andrai" in which Figaro warns the little "amorous butterfly" that military life differs from a castle life: "no more fluttering, no more will you have those fine plumes… in the military, head held high, frank of feature… through the snow and burning sun, in every place, blunderbusses, bombards and cannons, the fandango they will replace... »
 
But as he greets Cherubino, Figaro whispers that he wishes to speak to him before he leaves.

Acte II

The second act opens with a complaint from the Countess who mourns her lost illusions “Grant, love, some relief to my sorrow … Give me back my treasure, or at least let me die” (Cavatina “Poggi amor”). Figaro, having arrived with Suzanne and the Countess, presents his plan to bring his marriage to a successful conclusion and to confuse the Count: while the Count has gone hunting, an anonymous note carried by Basilio will warn the Count that the Countess is getting ready to receive her lover.
Is the Count jealous? So much the better!
Cherubino, disguised as a girl will go to the rendezvous. Confounded, the Count will not be able to oppose Figaro’s wedding.
It is now a question of dressing Cherubino that Figaro sends to the Countess. Suzanne pushes Cherubino to sing the romance he has composed: "You who know what love is, ladies, see whether it’s in my heart..." (Canzona "Voi che sapete ").[5]
After Susanna verifies that Figaro has instructed Cherubino of the plot, Cherubino lends itself to the dressing: "Come here, get down on your knees... and stay still there" (Susanna aria "Venite inginocchiatevi").

 
But the Count, alerted by the ticket, arrives earlier than expected. Quickly, we hide Cherubino in the closet. We now open the door to the Count who was growing impatient and who is now wondering what all this is hiding: "What’s happening! It used never to be your habit to lock yourself into your room!... anyway, I can see that’s you’re uneasy. Look at this piece of paper”.
Then, a great crash is heard caused by the clumsiness of Cherubino. The Count demands that the door of the closet from which the noise is coming be opened, the Countess, playing the outraged woman, refuses on the pretext that Susanna is there and that modesty forbids her to appear (Trio "Susanna, or via sortite”): “Susanna, now come out. I order you, ... Speak at least if you’re there!
No, no,no I order you to be quiet! the Countess retorts
”. “What has happened? wonders Susanna» who has heard everything, hidden in the alcove...
As it is so, the Count locks every door and takes the Countess with him to look for something to open the closet door; “Condescend to come with me my lady, I offer my arm, let’s go! … Susanna will stay here until we return”.

Taking advantage of their departure, Susanna releases Cherubino (Duet “Aprite, presto aprite!”). "Open, open quickly, it's me Susanna...Come out now, come out of there … He'll kill you if he finds you...". Cherubino ends up jumping out the window and flees. Except for a few broken flower pots, he escapes unscathed. “O just see how the little devil runs!” Susanna then takes Cherubino's place in the closet: "Let the bully return, I'll be waiting for him".

The Almaviva spouses return with hammer and pincers. Everything seems to be in place. Nothing moved. The Count proposes to the Countess to open the door of the closet. Terrified the Countess confesses... But confess what? That Cherubino is behind the door, "he's simply a child" she says. The Count is furious: “what? the little scoundrel has not gone! ... This is the intrigue, the plot the note warned me about".

Then follows the finale of the second act (“Esci ormai garzon malnato”) “Come out! low-born brat, you wretch ... I‘ll soon get my revenge ... ". The Count then opens the closet... But it is Susanna who appears.

All's well that ends well? you might think so. The Count repents and covers Countess hand with kisses. Figaro then arrives with pipe and trumpet musicians, singers and dancers. “Let’s hurry out to perform the wedding”. But the Count is less in a hurry… “Calm down, less haste, relieve me of a doubt before you go”.

Curse! Antonio, the gardener, arrives with a pot of crushed flowers; he did see someone jumping out of the window and trampling his flowerbeds. Figaro accuses himself, inventing more or less crazy reasons, but Antonio affirms that the individual looked more like Cherubino. The Count feels duped...especially since in his fall, Cherubino lost a piece of paper which we will soon realize is his military certificate...

Arrive Marcellina, with Bartholo and Bazilio to enforce the promise of marriage signed by Figaro to get a loan.

This is a too good opportunity for the Count to take revenge, which he seizes immediately: "I am here to render judgment ... we will read the contract and proceed in due order".

The Countess, Susanna and Figaro are annoyed, desperate, stunned: "Surely some devil from Hell has brought them/us here! ».

The Count, Marcellina, Bartholo and Bazilio are happy with their shot: “Victory is right before our noses, surely some propitious power has brought them/us here”.

The confusion is total!

What’s going to happen?

You will find out by reading our next newsletter.

[1] We can read the genesis of the work on the site https://www.meetingalilee.com home tab, click on Le Nozze di Figaro / More Information

[2] Giorgio Strehler in Opéra National de Paris - program 1973-2003

[3] Cf. J. Starobinski in Movement of characters in the Le Nozze di Figaro: very early in the morning, … late at night

[4] Cherubino is already a little Don Giovanni. As Don Giovanni, he loves them all... 

[5] This is perhaps the most famous aria of Le Nozze: a tune whose popularity has become universal.