Metropolitan Opera Radio Broadcast: Le Nozze di Figaro
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Metropolitan Opera Radio Broadcast: Le Nozze di Figaro 

Radio Broadcast of Saturday, March 26, 2016, 1:00 P.M. (ET)

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Amanda Majeski as the Countess in Richard Eyre’s staging of Le Nozze di Figaro at the Met
© Beatriz Schiller
 
The 2015–16 Metropolitan Opera broadcast season is
sponsored by Toll Brothers, America’s luxury home builder®,
with generous long-term support from The Annenberg
Foundation, The Neubauer Family Foundation,
The Vincent A. Stabile Endowment for Broadcast Media,
and through contributions from listeners worldwide.
 
Le Nozze di Figaro  
 
Music by WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART
Libretto by LORENZO DA PONTE,
based on the play La Folle Journée, ou Le Mariage de Figaro,
by Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais   
THE CAST    
(in order of vocal appearance)
Figaro  bass, MIKHAIL PETRENKO 
Susanna  soprano, ANITA HARTIG 
Dr. Bartolo  bass-baritone, MAURIZIO MURARO 
Marcellina  mezzo, SUSANNE MENTZER 
Cherubino   mezzo, ISABEL LEONARD 
Count  bass-baritone, LUCA PISARONI 
Don Basilio  tenor, ROBERT McPHERSON 
Countess  soprano, AMANDA MAJESKI 
Antonio  bass, PAUL CORONA 
Barbarina  soprano, ASHLEY EMERSON 
Don Curzio  tenor, SCOTT SCULLY 

Conducted by FABIO LUISI

The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
The Metropolitan Opera Chorus

Production: Richard Eyre
Set and costume designer: Rob Howell
Lighting designer: Paule Constable
Choreographer: Sara Erde
Stage director: Jonathon Loy
Chorus master: Donald Palumbo
Musical preparation: John Keenan,
Joshua Greene, Ekaterina Deleu
Assistant stage directors: Eric Einhorn,
Paula Williams
Continuo (harpsichord): Fabio Luisi
Italian coach: Hemdi Kfir

Production a gift of Mercedes T. Bass,
and Jerry and Jane del Missier
 
 
THE SCENES    
Timings (ET)  
(Seville, 1930s)    
ACT I  Figaro and Susanna’s bedroom 1:00–
ACT II  Countess’s boudoir –2:45
ACT III  Hall in the palace 3:21–
ACT IV  Palace garden –4:45
 
Host: Mary Jo Heath 
Commentator: Ira Siff 
Music producer: Jay David Saks 
Producers: Ellen Keel, William Berger 
Executive producers: Mia Bongiovanni,  
Elena Park 
 
This performance is also being broadcast
on Metropolitan Opera Radio on SiriusXM 
channel 74. 
 
Send quiz questions to Metropolitan Opera Quiz, 
Metropolitan Opera, 30 Lincoln Center, 
New York, NY 10023,
 

THE STORY 

ACT I. Figaro, former barber of Seville, measures the room he will occupy after his marriage to Susanna. Both are in the service of Count Almaviva, and when Susanna warns her fiancé that the Count has given them this room near his own because he has designs on her, Figaro vows to outwit his master ("Se vuol ballare"). After they leave, Dr. Bartolo, the Countess's onetime guardian and suitor, arrives with his housekeeper, Marcellina. Bartolo is eager for revenge on Figaro, whose machinations caused him to lose his ward to Almaviva. Knowing that Figaro once gave Marcellina his promise of marriage as collateral on a loan, Bartolo persuades her to foreclose ("La vendetta") and leaves. When Susanna returns, she trades insults with her would-be rival ("Via resti servita"), who storms out. The skirt-chasing page Cherubino steals in, begging Susanna's protection from the Count, who has caught him flirting with Barbarina, the gardener's daughter. After pouring out his amorous enthusiasm ("Non so più"), he hides as the Count enters to woo Susanna. Interrupted by the arrival of the music master, Don Basilio, the Count in turn hides, but he steps forward when Basilio hints that Cherubino has a crush on the Countess. Just as the Count discovers the hapless Cherubino, Figaro brings in a group of peasants to salute their lord for abolishing the droit du seigneur, an old custom giving the local landowner the first night with any bride among his retainers. Feigning good will, the Count drafts Cherubino into his regiment. Figaro teases the boy about his new military life ("Non più andrai").

ACT II. In her boudoir, the Countess laments the waning of her husband's love ("Porgi, amor"). When Figaro and Susanna arrive with news of the Count's machinations, the three plot to chasten him. Cherubino, disguised as Susanna, will keep an assignation with the Count. When Figaro leaves, the page comes to serenade the Countess with a song of his own composition ("Voi che sapete"). While dressing the boy in girl's clothes, Susanna goes out for a ribbon, and the Count knocks, furious to find the door barred. The Countess locks Cherubino in a closet before admitting her husband. The jealous Count hears a noise; the Countess insists it's Susanna, but he doesn't believe her. Taking his wife with him, he goes to fetch tools to force the lock. Susanna, who has slipped in unnoticed during their confrontation, helps Cherubino out a window and takes his place in the closet, baffling both Count and Countess when they return. As the Count tries to make amends, the gardener, Antonio, appears, complaining that someone has stepped in his flower bed. Figaro, arriving to say the wedding ceremony is ready to begin, claims it was he who jumped from the window and fakes a twisted ankle. When the Count asks him about a paper found among the geraniums, Figaro, prompted by the women, correctly identifies it as Cherubino's commission. Bartolo and Basilio burst in with Marcellina to press her claims against Figaro. The Count gladly postpones the wedding, pledging to judge the case himself.

ACT III. At the Countess's prompting, Susanna promises the Count a rendezvous ("Crudel! perchè finora"), but his suspicions are aroused when he overhears her assuring Figaro that the case is won. Enraged, he vows revenge ("Vedrò, mentr'io sospiro"). Alone, the Countess hopes to revive her husband's love ("Dove sono"). Marcellina now demands that Figaro pay his debt or marry her, but a birthmark proves he is her long-lost son by Bartolo, and the parents call off their suit, confounding the Count ("Riconosci in questo amplesso"). The conspiracy continues: the Countess dictates a note from Susanna, inviting the Count to the garden ("Che soave zeffiretto"). Peasants, among them Cherubino, disguised as a girl, bring flowers to their lady. Figaro arrives, and, as the wedding ceremony at last takes place, Susanna slips the note, sealed with a pin, to the Count.

ACT IV. The pin is meant to accompany the Count's reply, but Barbarina, his messenger, has lost it in the dusky garden ("L'ho perduta, me meschina"). She explains her predicament to Figaro, who, unaware of the ladies' latest plot, thinks Susanna has betrayed him. He gives Barbarina another pin, planning to ambush his bride with the Count, then turns to his mother, Marcellina, for comfort. The crafty Basilio says it pays to play the fool. Figaro, left alone, curses women for their duplicity ("Aprite un po'"), then hides when Susanna appears, rhapsodizing on her love for Figaro without naming him ("Deh vieni"). Figaro is beside himself, assuming her serenade is meant for the Count. Susanna and the Countess secretly exchange dresses, and in the darkness both Cherubino and the Count woo the Countess, thinking her to be Susanna ("Pian, pianin le andrò più presso"). Figaro at last perceives the joke and gets even by wooing Susanna in her Countess disguise, provoking and then pacifying her. When the Count returns, he sees Figaro flirting with what appears to be the Countess. He calls the whole company to witness his judgment but is silenced when the real Countess appears and reveals the ruse. She grants the Count's plea for forgiveness ("Contessa, perdono"), and everyone celebrates.

THE BACKGROUND 

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart showed himself a prodigy as early as age four; his father trained and promoted the boy's talent, taking him at age six on a concert tour to Vienna. Trips to Paris (at seven) and England (at eight) followed. His first serious opera in classical style, Mitridate, Re di Ponto, was given in Milan, with the composer conducting, when he was fourteen.

Though he only lived to be thirty-five, Mozart wrote prolifically for the stage. His operas combine dramatic flair with versatility of form and style. Le Nozze di Figaro features the keyboard-accompanied recitative and vocal dash of Italian opera. Mozart gave his stock opera-buffa figures music that characterizes them with depth and poignancy.

French playwright Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais's Figaro comedies — Le Barbier de Séville (1775) and Le Mariage de Figaro (1784) — so satirized the pre-revolutionary social order that librettist Lorenzo da Ponte had difficulty securing the Austrian Emperor Joseph II's clearance for Mozart's version.

First heard at Vienna's Burgtheater on May 1, 1786, the opera aroused calls for encores. The first known performance in America took place at the Park Theater, New York, on May 10, 1824, in English. The Met premiere came on January 31, 1894, but the work's popularity at the house dates from February 20, 1940, when Ettore Panizza led Elisabeth Rethberg, Bidù Sayão, Risë Stevens, Ezio Pinza and John Brownlee. The current production was first seen on October 29, 1998.

WHAT TO READ AND HEAR 

Books on Mozart have always been plentiful, but the current anniversary year has brought forth a bumper crop of worthy new titles, among them Jane Glover's Mozart's Women (HarperCollins), Stanley Sadie's study of Mozart's early years (Oxford), Julian Rushton's excellent short biography (Oxford) and The Cambridge Mozart Encyclopedia. Maynard Solomon's Mozart: A Life (HarperCollins) is an excellent portrait of the man and his genius. The admirable "Penguin Lives" series includes a pithy biography of Mozart by Peter Gay (Viking). Beaumarchais's three plays about Figaro and the Almavivas are available in one volume as The Figaro Trilogy (Oxford paperback).

René Jacobs sparks fleet, responsive singing on his superb 2004 recording of Le Nozze di Figaro (Harmonia Mundi), an invigorating reading of an opera that has had a long, unusually rich recorded history. James Levine leads an all-star Figaro cast (Furlanetto, Te Kanawa, Hampson, Upshaw and von Otter), most of whom are veterans of Metropolitan Opera revivals of the opera, to coruscating effect (DG). Classic Figaro performances from the 1950s now available on CD include those led by Giulini (EMI), Karajan (EMI) and Erich Kleiber (Decca). Vivid performances from the pre-LP era still worth exploring are Fritz Busch's lively, recitative-less 1934 recording from Glyndebourne (Naxos) and Bruno Walter's 1937 Figaro, luxuriously cast and captured live at the Salzburg Festival (Andante).

On DVD, Kiri Te Kanawa is the Countess in DG's 1976 Figaro, directed with verve by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle and conducted by Karl Böhm (Kultur). Steven Medcalf's 1994 Figaro for Glyndebourne Opera (Kultur) gathers an uncommonly sympathetic cast of principals, including Renée Fleming and Gerald Finley, under the deft leadership of Bernard Haitink. Bryn Terfel's wily Figaro heads the cast of Jean Louis Thamin's elegant 1993 Figaro at the Théâtre du Châtelet, a stimulating period-instrument performance conducted by John Eliot Gardiner (DG Archiv). spacer 

 



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