Waiting for Figaro
W.A. Mozart - Waiting for Figaro (The Impresario, The Deluded Bridegroom and The Cairo Goose)
Libretti by Gottlieb Stephanie the Younger anonymous, and Giambattista Varesco
English translations by Gilly French and Jeremy Gray
|Mr Frank, an impresario||Bryan Pilkington|
Angel, his assistant director, who reluctantly sings
Pulcherio, a misogynist, and more willingly
Calandrino, Don Pippo's nephew, in love with Lavina
Madame Goldentrill, a fading opera star, auditioning for
Bettina, a servant, but eventually gets to sing
Celidora, daughter of Don Pippo
Mlle Warblewell, a rising opera star, also auditioning for
Bettina, but ends up as
Lavina, friend of Celidora
a Work Experience Girl, with ambitions to sing
Eugenia, a noblewoman, but given the role of
Auretta, chambermaid to the absent Donna Pantea
New Tenor, delighted to be asked to sing
Don Asdrubale, suitor to Eugenia, as well as
Biondello, wealthy gentleman from Ripasecca, in love with Celidora
Bluff, an impoverished stage-manager, who is made to sing
Bocconio, a rich fool, and also
Don Pippo, Marquis of Ripasecca, another rich fool
|Chichibio, major-domo to Don Pippo||Thomas Guthrie|
|Directors||Thomas Guthrie, Jeremy Gray|
Policemen and guards of the tower: Rosie Anderson, Jessica Beecham, Morag Crowther, Jennifer French, Anne Hichens, Caroline Kennedy, Andrew Hichens, Alex Millar, Alan Poppleton, Mike Probert, Damian Riddle
Orchestra Andrea Morris, Jane Gordon, Rebecca Rule, Sarah Moffat, Wiebke Thormahlen, Oliver Sandig violin; Esther van der Eijk, Robin Ashwell viola; Joseph Crouch, Henryk Persson 'cello; Roger McCann bass;Graham O'Sullivan, Ule Torssander flute; Hannah McLaughlin oboe; Zoe Shevlin, Kate Walpole bassoon;
The Impresario and The Deluded Bridegroom
The Impresario Frank (speaking part) is anxious because music for a forthcoming performance of the Marriage of Figaro has not arrived, and rehearsals need to commence. When the music is delivered, they discover that an alternative has been supplied: The Deluded Bridegroom. Their deliberations are interrupted by the arrival of Madame Goldentrill (booked by Angel) who has come to audition, followed quickly by Miss Warblewell (booked by Frank). Both women sing their audition pieces, and take a firm dislike to each other. The company starts to rehearse the music from The Deluded Bridegroom, and in the opening quartet both new sopranos have to share the role of the servant Bettina, a situation which can only add to their rift. Meanwhile, a Work Experience Girl - a student from the Academy - reminds Frank that she has also been promised a part, and sightreads her way through Eugenia's aria with great aplomb; a New Tenor, to whom the Work Experience Girl has taken a fancy, also shows off his musical skills as Don Asdrubale. A trio, "This is dreadful! Tribulation!" seems to echo Frank's own dilemma. The warring divas return and develop their feud, whilst Angel tries to calm them down and effect a truce. The plan to perform the Deluded Bridegroom comes to an abrupt end however, when Frank discovers that Mozart had never written more than four numbers. Examining the music parcel again they discover further music, for the Cairo Goose - with three soprano parts, and something for the tenors as well, everyone can be kept happy. Work Experience Girl and New Tenor slip away to practise their love scenes, whilst the remainder, joined by the director Bluff, celebrate the joys of music with some degree of equanimity.
In The Deluded Bridegroom a misunderstanding has separated the lovers Eugenia and Don Asdrubale. As Eugenia assumes the Don to be dead, she has been persuaded to marry the elderly, stupid, but very wealthy Bocconio, whom she has not seen. In the opening trio, Bocconio is teased about his wedding plans by the misogynist Pulcherio, the maid Bettina, and by Asdrubale, who in fact is his friend. Eugenia, like Laura in I due baroni complains about the poor reception she receives when she arrives at her fiancé's home. Pulcherio teases the betrothed couple. From later in the first act Asdrubale, who by now is being pursued by two other women, encounters Eugenia, causing consternation to themselves as well as to Bocconio.
The Cairo Goose
The old Marquis Don Pippo, who believes his absent wife Donna Pantea to be dead, has shut up his daughter Celidora and her companion Lavina in a tower. He intends to marry Lavina that very day, even though she pines for Calandrino, and he is forcing Celidora to marry Count Lionetto di Casavuoto instead of her lover Biondello. During the overture the chambermaid Auretta flirts with a sequence of tradesman to avoid paying their bills. In the opening duet she boasts of her coquettish arts whilst he lover Chichibio is miserable about them. They make up their quarrel during the course of the duet. In a recitative Don Pippo’s nephew Calandrino asks if his uncle is still asleep. Chichibio goes off to find out, and Calandrino flirts with Auretta. They notice that Chichibio has seen their embrace; Calandrino pretends to be in the middle of an anecdote: Like this they stood caressing, Apollo and Daphne…Auretta sings a teasing aria about jealousy and Chichibio complains that beautiful women, despite their insistence to the contrary, are rarely faithful. However, Biondello has a wager with Don Pippo: if he can rescue Celidora within a year of her incarceration her hand will be his reward. It is the eve of the anniversary of this wager; the marquis is confident that Biondello’s rescue plans are failing and sings a jolly buffo aria about his forthcoming wedding. Later Biondello sings that true love, with a little help from Cupid and Venus, will win him the wager, and looks forward to Don Pippo’s fury at his success. The two girls and their lovers sing a moving quartet, Auretta and Chichibio discuss their role in the rescue and workmen arrive to build a bridge. Auretta and Chichibio re-appear, panic-stricken as they have lost sight of Don Pippo, who indeed soon appears with a chorus of policemen and guards. The girls make lame excuses for being on the balcony but he is furious. The lovers are defiant but afraid, and the act ends with the assembled company being marched off to prison.
The rest of the story
In Act II a ship arrives at Ripasecca carrying Donna Pantea, wife of Don Pippo, who was believed dead. Disguised, she is carrying a large mechanical goose, which she says is from Cairo. Don Pippo is fascinated by the goose, particularly when he is tld that, if left alone at night in a walled garden, it will talk. In this way the goose – with Biondello in it – gets inside the tower garden. Pantea’s true identity is revealed, Pippo is humiliated and all the lovers are reunited.
clarity, intimacy and communicative warmth...
The Oxford Times, 29 August 2002
...a fresh revelation of genius.
The Independent 23 September 2002
rich and credible operatic entertainment
Music and Vision, September 2002