Le Nozze di Figaro is an opera buffa in four acts by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The libretto was written by Lorenzo da Ponte after Pierre-Augustin Beaumarchais' play La folle journée, ou Le mariage de Figaro. The opera was premiered in Vienna's Burgtheater on May 1, 1786.
Le nozze di Figaro
From Grove Music Online:
"The topic of Mozart's first documented collaboration with Lorenzo da Ponte, Le nozze di Figaro was no doubt carefully chosen: Beaumarchais' play, La folle journée, ou Le mariage de Figáro, had been printed in German translation in Vienna in 1785, although performances by Schikaneder's theatrical company had been banned; further, it was a sequel to Beaumarchais' Le barbier de Séville, ou La précaution inutile, of which Paisiello's operatic version, given at Vienna in May 1784, had been a great success. Work on Figaro was started by October or November 1785, and the opera came to the stage of the Burgtheater on 1 May 1786. The initial run was a success: many items were applauded and encored at the first three performances, prompting the emperor to restrict encores at later ones to the arias. Letters from Leopold to Nannerl Mozart make it clear that there was a good deal of intrigue against the work, allegedly by Salieri and Vincenzo Righini, while a pamphlet published in Vienna in 1786 (Ueber des deutsche Singspiel des Apotheker des Hrn. v. Dittersdorf; see Eisen, A1991) similarly claims that ‘[The foreign partisans] … have completely lost their wager, for Mozart's Nozze di Figaro … [has] put to shame the ridiculous pride of this fashionable sect’. An equally biting comment appeared in the Wiener Zeitung for 11 July: ‘Herr Mozart's music was generally admired by connoisseurs already at the first performance, if I except only those whose self-love and conceit will not allow them to find merit in anything not written by themselves’.
"The allegedly seditious politics of the opera may be overstated: Da Ponte was careful to remove the more inflammatory elements of Beaumarchais' play, and the characters and events of the opera are well situated within the commedia dell'arte tradition. Nevertheless, social tensions remain, as in Figaro's ‘Se vuol ballare’, the Act 2 finale, and the Count's music early in Act 3. Individual arias also reflect the social standing of the various characters: this may be exemplified by a comparison of Bartolo's blustery, parodistic vengeance aria ‘La vendetta’ and the Count's ‘Vedrò, mentr'io sospiro’, with its overtones of power and menace, or between the breadth and smoothness of the Countess's phraseology as opposed to Susanna's. Ultimately, however, Figaro may be no more than a comic domestic drama, though not without reflecting contemporary concerns about gender and society."
Painting by Barbara Krafft in 1819.