The Marriage of Figaro
Marcos Portugal (1762-1830)
The Marriage of Figaro
La pazza giornata, ovvero Il matrimonio di Figaro
Opera in two acts
Critical edition prepared by Bárbara Villalobos, Gabriel Cipriano, Marco Aurélio Brescia, Pedro Cachado and Rejane Paiva, supervised by David Cranmer, under the auspices of the Marcos Portugal Project. With thanks to the Centro de Estudos de Sociologia e Estética Musical (CESEM), Universidade Nova de Lisboa and the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT).
Libretto by Gaetano Rossi, after Beaumarchais
English translation by Gilly French and Jeremy Gray
The Deanery garden, Bampton, 23 and 24 July 2010
The Orangery Terrace, Westonbirt, 29 August 2010
St John’s, Smith Square, 7 October 2010
The Opera House, Buxton, 15, 18 23 July 2012, for the Buxton Festival
Figaro, a manservant to Count Almaviva
Susanna, maid to the Countess and engaged to Figaro
||Emily Rowley Jones|
Marcellina, former housekeeper to Dr Bartolo
Cherubino, a page, and the Countess’ godson
Don Basilio, a music master
||Robert Winslade Anderson|
|Rosina, Countess Almaviva||Lisa Wilson|
|Count Almaviva||John-Colyn Gyeantey|
|Antonio, a gardener, uncle to Susanna||
Nicholas Morris (2012)
Edmund Connolly (2010)
|Cecchina, his daughter||Caroline Kennedy|
|Gusmano, a notary||Robert Gildon|
|Servants||Luci Briginshaw (2012)|
|Angela Simkin (2012)|
|Sian Winstanley (2010)|
|Susan Moore (2010)|
The Orchestra of Bampton Classical Opera (July, August)
The action takes place during the course of one day in the castle of Aguasfrescas, the seat of Count Almaviva, outside Seville
Act One, Scene 1: a half-furnished ante-room, morning
It is the morning of the wedding of the servants Figaro and Susanna. Susanna tries on her bridal veil whilst Figaro measures the room which has been granted to them by the Count. Susanna is deeply suspicious as the room is too close for comfort to the Count’s own chamber – she knows all too well that although the Count has officially abolished the droit de seigneur he hopes to revive it just once more – with her, on her wedding day. Figaro vows to outwit his immoral employer.
Marcellina and Bartolo plan to disrupt the wedding – she has a contract requiring Figaro to marry her if he cannot repay a loan she once made to him. Bartolo is very happy to get his own back on Figaro who contrived for the Count to snatch Bartolo’s ward Rosina from under his nose (in The Barber of Seville). The adolescent page Cherubino expresses his despair to Susanna: he has been banished from the castle and so will never see her again. Susanna knows that it is Countess who is really the object of his infatuation. The Count arrives unexpectedly, intent on arranging an assignation with Susanna. Cherubino is forced to hide; the Count, on hearing the voice of the music master Basilio, must do the same. The scurrilous conversation between Basilio and Susanna provokes the Count and, to Basilio’s delight and the consternation of the others, he accidentally uncovers Cherubino. The Count is furious when he realises that the page has overheard his own attempted seduction of Susanna.
A group of servants, led by Figaro, arrives to sing the praises of the Count’s new enlightened policy. The Count plots to delay the wedding a little in order to give Marcellina the chance to press her claim. Diverting attention back to Cherubino, he appoints him immediate appointment as an officer in his regiment. The Count resolves to pursue Susanna despite her indifference.
Act One, Scene 2: the Countess’s chamber, later that morning
The Countess is in despair, seemingly having lost the love of her husband. Figaro tells the Countess and Susanna that he has sent an anonymous letter to the Count warning him that his wife has a secret assignation. Figaro elaborates on his plot, suggesting that Susanna should invite the Count to a meeting, but that he will send Cherubino, who has not yet left the castle, disguised in her place.
Cherubino arrives to take his leave of his godmother the Countess, whom he adores passionately. He sings a canzonetta that he has composed about the turmoils of adolescent love. The Countess notices that Cherubino’s army commission has not been sealed. Warming to Figaro’s plan, the women dress up Cherubino as a girl. Susanna leaves momentarily, and the Countess is horrified by the unexpected arrival of her husband; Cherubino hides. The Count is suspicious and the Countess is forced to pretend that it is Susanna in the wardrobe. Susanna slips back into the room and hides in an alcove. The Count is determined to break down the wardrobe door, and takes his wife with him in order to fetch the requisite tools, locking the room behind him.
Susanna releases Cherubino, who escapes through the window, and she takes his place in the wardrobe. When the noble couple return, the Countess in great agitation confesses that it is Cherubino who is hidden: both are amazed when Susanna steps out. The Count has to ask for forgiveness, and the women own up to the deceit of Figaro’s letter of assignation.
The gardener Antonio is furious because a man has jumped from the window and ruined his geraniums. Figaro claims it was him, but Antonio is convinced it was Cherubino. Antonio produces a paper which the man dropped and which therefore surely Figaro must recognize as his own. With helping hints from the women, Figaro correctly again manages to thwart the Count. Marcellina, Bartolo and Basilio arrive, pressing Figaro to repay Marcellina or marry her. The scene ends with general confusion.
Act Two, Scene 1: a public room in the castle, late afternoon
The Count is perplexed by the day’s events and is suspicious of everyone. Nevertheless, when Susanna agrees to a night-time assignation, he is overjoyed. His elation is quickly undermined on overhearing a remark she carelessly makes to Figaro.
Marcellina tells Bartolo that she is determined to press her marriage claim with Figaro, despite a promise she once made to Basilio. The notary Gusman judges the case in her favour, much to the Count’s pleasure. Figaro protests that he needs parental permission to marry but he was abandoned as a baby: the details of his story make Marcellina and Bartolo realise that they are his long-lost parents. Although at first Susanna is furious when she sees Figaro embracing Marcellina, soon everyone is happy - except for the Count.
The Countess dictates a letter to Susanna to entice the Count, intending to dress herself up as her maid in order to embarrass her husband.
Girls bring flowers for the Countess; Cherubino is dressed up amongst them, but is discovered by Antonio. Cecchina makes an embarrassing revelation about the Count. A band is heard and there is much merriment to accompany the double wedding of Figaro and Susanna, Bartolo and Marcellina. Susanna secretly passes the assignation note to the Count, and he pricks his finger on the pin used to seal it.
Basilio interrupts with a drunken song in praise of all women. He trades insults with Figaro. Basilio still hopes to claim Marcellina as his own bride but retreats on discovering that Figaro would be his son. The Count eagerly anticipates the amorous pleasures of the evening.
Act Two, Scene 2: the castle garden, late evening
Figaro is dismayed to learn from Cecchina that Susanna is planning a rendezvous with the Count, and he vows to have his revenge. Marcellina disbelieves that Susanna could be duplicitous.
Cecchina hides, awaiting Cherubino. Figaro recalls the ups and downs of his colourful life and bewails the Count’s intentions. The Countess and Susanna, dressed as each other, plot the evening’s entertainment. Susanna taunts Figaro, whom she realizes is eavesdropping, by pretending that she is waiting for her noble lover.
Cherubino tries to flirt with ‘Susanna’, in actuality the Countess. The Count, recognising his wife from her voice, assumes she is unfaithful; Figaro, recognising her costume, thinks the same of Susanna.
The Count attempt to seduce ‘Susanna’, and Figaro eavesdrops, horrified. Approaching voices cause the Count to rush away. Figaro begs for help from ‘the Countess’ but, soon discovering that she is in fact Susanna, he decides to play along with the charade and to trick her by extravagantly expressing his love. Susanna cannot keep up the pretence. Reconciled, they resume their flirtation as ‘the Countess’ and Figaro in order to provoke the Count. The Count is furious and summons everyone to witness the infidelity of his wife; he is resolute that she will be shamed and punished.
The masquerade eventually becomes clear. The Count begs for forgiveness and the Countess, with dignity, accedes. The ‘mad day’ ends with reconciliation and rejoicing.
‘...a work among the most interesting and attractive Bampton have discovered
Opera Now, Jan/Feb 2011
The Oxford Times, 30 July 2010
The other ‘Marriage of Figaro’
Opera Today, October 2010
La pazza giornata o sia Il matrimonio di Figaro