- Arts & Literature
- Science & Technology
By Frankie Goodway
The original play, La folle journee, ou, Le Mariage de Figaro (Beaumarchais, 1778) was an acerbic attack on the corruption of the aristocracy, an expression of the growing discontent around ten years before the storm of the French Revolution. However, in adapting the script for a Mozart opera, da Ponte removed the overt political references; in its new form, the political interrogation is not erased, but disguised through the more obvious questioning of gender equality. Susanna, a maidservant, is due to married to Figaro, but the Count Almaviva (married to the Countess Almaviva) wishes to seduce her before her wedding night. He plots with Marcellina and Bartolo (neither of whom are as they first seem) as well as other conspirators and the plot spins into one of confusion, deceit, betrayal but ultimately forgiveness and reconciliation.
It’s easy to say that some of the music within this opera is some of the most beautiful that Mozart wrote; it’s also easy to cite this as a great opera due to the intellectual plot and well-developed characters. However, the real and overriding reason why this is, and always has been, one of my favourite operas is because it appeals to so many people- the person who has never been to the opera before and has always been a bit scared of the reputation of black tie, champagne, monocles and stiff-upper-lip box seats; the person who is a seasoned opera goer and has come back to Figaro time and again; and for someone in my position, the person who is honoured with being given this music in an attempt to convey both the beauty of the melody and the passion of the script. To work on this play as the character of Marcellina, who is aged a good three decades older than myself, demands both an attitudeand acceptance of the cultural differences of the eighteenth century but also an awareness of how they relate to us in the 21st. Yet despite the merit of the opera in its own right, this production has been brought alive by the vision and enthusiasm of the directing and conducting, ‘married’ to the commitment and skill of the cast. It seems fair to judge the success of a performance on how much the cast enjoy interpreting their art, and given that the technical brilliance has been regularly punctuated with flying Percy Pigs, ‘onesies’ and myself in particular having had to leave to calm down and stop laughing, this will be a sparkling yet touching performance that cannot be missed.