OPERA PHILADELPHIA & T H E S C H O O L D I ST R I C T O F P H I L A D E L P H I A PRESENT
FINAL DRESS REHEARSAL A P R I L 2 6 , 2 017 | 2 : 0 0 P. M . ACADEMY OF MUSIC
W E H O P E T H AT YO U Accept the Challenge... ...to open this book and begin to explore the universal themes that you will find in opera with your teachers, classmates, and parents. This challenge is like an exploration in which you examine different issues that people have faced for centuries. It is like taking an adventure through time and space. This book is a guide that will connect you to an art form, opera, that may take you outside of your realm of experiences. The stories and problems in operas have always been part of the human condition. In an opera, the story is presented in a way that will be different from the way you are used to experiencing a story. Through the music and the libretto, we hope you will be able to connect with the plot, the storyline or themes that may have been written in the 18th, 19th, or 20th century but are still relevant today. During your time of study and preparation with these materials, there is the expectation that you will be able to connect something from your exploration of opera to your own personal stories. Accepting this challenge also provides an opportunity for you to apply what you know to present day situations and draw conclusions about the effectiveness of the story presentation. As you work your way through this book, we hope you will be prepared to experience the opera with a new set of lenses that will afford you the opportunity to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate what you have learned or experienced during the challenge. Hopefully, you will take advantage of the opportunity to reflect on your experiences on our Sounds of Learning™ blog. Through your reflections you will share with others your insights about your journey. Your reflections will also help us modify and adjust our program materials for future audiences and students. We hope you will accept this challenge, and join other students who are taking the journey to make connections between the past and the present in order to impact the future! I accept the challenge
G O A L S A N D O B J E C T I V E S of Sounds of Learning ™ Connect with the plot or themes
Connect something from your exploration of opera to your own personal stories
Draw conclusions about the effectiveness of the story presentation
Experience the opera with an open mind
Analyze, synthesize, and evaluate what you have learned or experienced during the challenge
Use the Sounds of Learning™ blog to reflect on your experience and provide insights about your journey
Best Practices in Arts Education is sponsored by Pennsylvania Alliance for Arts Education, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the Pennsylvania Department of Education
TA B L E O F Contents GET TING READY FOR THE OPERA The Then and Now of Opera 2 Philadelphiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Academy of Music 4 Opera Etiquette 5 The Language of Opera 6 Theater Anatomy 7 Operatic Voice Types 8 So You Want to Sing Like an Opera Singer? 9
R E L AT I N G O P E R A T O H I ST O R Y The Man Behind the Music: W.A. Mozart 10 The Man Behind the Text: Lorenzo Da Ponte 11 The Comedy in Politics 12 Beaumarchais, the Revolutionist 14
L I B R E T T O
& P R O D U C T I O N I N F O R M AT I O N
The Marriage of Figaro: Cast and Creative Team 15 Inside the Design of The Marriage of Figaro 16 The Marriage of Figaro: Libretto 17 Meet The Artists 48
CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES Plot the Action of The Marriage of Figaro 50 Character Pyramid 51 Act the Story Using Tableaus 52 En travesti: Trouser Roles Past and Present 53 What's the Score? 54 The Overture of The Marriage of Figaro 55 Writing a Review of the Opera 56 Making a Synopsis 57 2016-2017 Season Subscriptions 58 Invest in Grand Opera! 59 Glossary 60
THE THEN AND NOW of Opera Have you ever wondered where opera got its start? Back in the late 1500s, during a period of time known as the Renaissance (1400– 1600), a group of men called the Florentine Camerata got together to try to recreate the legendary dramas of ancient Greece. In the end, they created a new theatrical experience called opera! Most early operas were based on Greek myths. The oldest opera for which the music survives was Claudio Monteverdi’s L'Orfeo, written in 1607. This opera included many important elements: songs, instrumental accompaniments, costumes, dance, and scenery. Amazingly, we still use all of these items today!
Lisette Oropesa commands the stage in La traviata at Opera Philadelphia. Photo: Kelly & Massa Photography
Morris Robinson as the Grand Inquisitor and Eric Owens as King Phillip in Verdi’s Don Carlo. Photo: Kelly & Massa Photography
were talking about new forms of government and organization in society, especially the ever-growing middle class. Music changed during this period and composers dropped the complicated Baroque musical style and wrote music that was simpler and more emotional. One of the first operas to use this new style was Christoph Willibald Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice (1762). In 1776, the American Revolution changed the world. A few years later, the French had their own revolution (1789) and the first modern democracies were born. Reflecting this new way of thinking, audiences wanted to see characters like themselves on stage, not the gods and goddesses portrayed in earlier operas. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro (1786) was one of the first operas to do this. It told a story about social class struggle that had both servants and nobility in lead roles.
Monteverdi’s L'Orfeo was written during the Baroque period (1600 to 1750). During this period, operas in the Italian style were so popular all over Europe that even non-Italian composers wrote them. For example, Georg Frederic Handel (1685–1759) was a GermanIn the 1800s opera continued to grow. The born composer who lived and worked in England. His operas, like Julius Caesar (1724), Italian tradition developed in the bel canto movement, which means “beautiful singing.” were written in the Italian language and The most famous bel canto composers were reflected an Italian style of music. Gioachino Rossini (1792–1868), Gaetano Donizetti (1797–1848), and Vincenzo Bellini The eighteenth century was full of change for (1801–1835). Their operas, like Rossini’s both Europe and opera. This time period was popular comedies The Barber of Seville (1816) known as the Age of Enlightenment. People and Cinderella (1817), are still some of the most popular operas performed today.
By the middle of the 19th century, the Romantic Movement led many composers to champion their own national identities. They wrote music that reflected their home countries. German operas like Carl Maria von Weber’s Der Freischütz (1821), Russian operas like Mikhail Glinka’s A Life for the Tsar (1836), and French operas like Giacomo Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots (1836) were performed across Europe. In Germany, Richard Wagner took Romanticism to the extreme by composing The Ring of the Nibelung (1876), a series of four operas that takes over 15 hours to perform!
Philadelphian Jennifer Higdon and based on the book of the same name by Charles Frazier. Daniel Schnyder and Bridgette A. Wimberly’s 2015 work, Charlie Parker’s YARDBIRD, about the tortured jazz saxophonist, was so well received that it travelled to New York City in April 2016 to become the first opera to ever be produced at the famous Apollo Theater in Harlem. Although opera is one of the oldest musical art forms, it still remains and expands today. From the old favorites to the new experimental works, opera continues to be a moving art form of the people. READING COMPREHENSION • What is the name of the first famous opera? • Who are the most famous bel canto composers? • Name two operas composed by Rossini.
Christine Georkeas the title role in Giacomo Puccini's Turandot. Photo: Kelly & Massa Photography
Opera in the 20th century became even more experimental. Composers like Giacomo Puccini (La bohème, 1896), Claude Debussy (Pelléas et Mélisande, 1902), Richard Strauss (Salome, 1905), and Benjamin Britten (Peter Grimes, 1945) continued to evolve their national styles. Others, horrified by the destruction of World War I (1914-1918) and other aspects of modern life, created music that was new and drastically dissonant. Meanwhile, American opera had a huge hit with George and Ira Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess (1935) which included the musical styles of both jazz and blues. Today, opera is still growing and expanding. Opera Philadelphia helps to shape the future of opera by producing important new operas like Cold Mountain (2016), composed by
• Who brought Romanticism to the next level? • What is the name of the composer who had her American opera performed at Opera Philadelphia in 2016? Where is she from?
Lawrence Brownlee in Charlie Parker’s YARDBIRD. Photo: Sof ia Negron
P H I L A D E L P H I A’S AC A D E M Y O F M U S I C
Photo: George Widman
Opera Philadelphia's home, the Academy of Music, opened in 1857. Opera is only one type of performance shown in the Academy. There are also ballets, concerts, and galas. The building is a historical monument and the oldest grand opera house in America still used for its original purpose. The Academy of Music is sometimes called the "The Grand Old Lady of Locust Street." The opera house was initially built with a plain white exterior as the architects wanted the beauty to be on the interior, as it was at the famous opera house, La Scala, in Italy. Later, the exterior was revised to look as it does today. Unlike other performance houses, the Academy of Music's seating was a 'U' shape. This was for the audience to have the best view from every angle possible. The first opera presented in the brand new opera house was Giuseppe Verdi’s Il trovatore on February 25, 1857. The basement of the Academy of Music has a history, too. It was used as a dining hall because of its beautiful interior decoration. During World War II, the hall was transformed into the Stage Door 4
Canteen, serving refreshments and featuring appearances by entertainers such as Abbott and Costello, Duke Ellington, and Frank Sinatra. Today, the Academy of Music continues to entertain people through concerts, operas, ballets, and more. The wondrous hall dedicated to the arts has blossomed into the perfect place for a performance of any kind.
Academy of Music Facts:
• The auditorium seats 2,509; 14
columns support the Academy’s tiers • The red and gold pattern on the Academy’s stage curtain features a pineapple, a Victorian-era symbol for “welcome.” • The first-ever indoor football game was held on the Academy’s Parquet level on March 7, 1889 between the University of Pennsylvania and Riverton Club of Princeton. • 1,600 people attended the first-ever public motion picture screening on February 5, 1870. adapted f rom String Theory School ’s Sounds of Learning™ iBook
OPERA Etiquette By Dan Darigan AT T E N DI NG T H E OPE R A
There’s nothing as exciting as seeing a performance in Philadelphia’s beautiful Academy of Music. If this is your first time at the opera, there are a few things for which you should prepare:
For a fun video of what’s expected at the opera, please visit tinyurl.com/OperaEtiquette.
You are attending the opera’s final dress rehearsal, the last chance for performers to run through the show before opening night. The goal is to treat this rehearsal exactly like a performance and to perform the opera straight through without a pause. You may notice several computer monitors Students from Harris Elementary School get ready for the opera. and a large table spread out over the seats in the center of the first f loor of the auditorium. Seated in this area is the THE DO'S and DON'TS production team: Director, Assistant Director, Costume Designer, Lighting Designer, Set Please Do… Designer, and others. They’ll take notes and • Applaud after the arias; you can shout “Bravo!” communicate via headsets with the many for men and “Brava!” for the women. people backstage who help make all of the • Use the bathrooms before the rehearsal begins operatic magic happen: Stage Managers, or at intermission. Master Carpenter, Lighting Technicians, • Be careful in the auditorium! The theater is over Stagehands, and others. They’ll be able to give 150 years old and can be difficult to navigate. notes so that changes can be instantly made. • Turn off your cell phones and all electronic Should things go awry, they may stop and devices. repeat a section to make sure that it is perfect. • Obey all directions given by theater ushers and staff. OPER A E T IQU E T T E 101 • E njoy the show! Unlike actors on television or in the movies, performers on stage are very aware of the audience. Everything you do in the audience Please Don' t... affects what happens on stage and behind the • No food, gum, nor beverages are permitted scenes. Because this is a working rehearsal, inside the theater. we ask that you please refrain from talking • P hotographs or video footage may not be taken so that the production team can concentrate during the performance. on fine-tuning the production. You can show • No talking or whispering during the the artists how much you appreciate their performance. work and the opportunity to come to this free rehearsal by being as quiet as possible. 5
THE LANGUAGE OF Opera AC T ARIA BALLET BLOCKING CHORUS CONDUC TOR DUET LIBRET TO ORCH ES T R A OV ERT U R E PROGR A M R E C I TAT I V E REHEARSAL SCENE
main section of a play or opera a solo song sung in an opera
dance set to music action on stage
usic composed for a group of singers; the name of a group of m singers in an opera
person who rehearses and leads the orchestra a song performed by two singers
the text or words in an opera, an operaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s script
a group of musicians who play together on various musical instruments
a piece of instrumental music played at the beginning of an opera
booklet that contains information about the opera, composer, performers, the opera company, and includes advertisements
words that are sung in the rhythm of natural speech
time when singers/actors practice with or without the orchestra; time when musicians practice together with the conductor segments of action within the acts of an opera
Soprano, Christine Goerke, sings the title role in Turandot at Opera Philadelphia. Photo: Kelly & Massa Photography
T H E AT E R Anatomy Opera singers must act on stage as well as sing! This means that they have to understand the stage layout. When directors rehearse with singers, they must communicate where the singers should be on stage. Otherwise there could be a big traffic jam! To make everything clear, a special vocabulary is used. UPSTAGE is the name given to the very back of the stage, away from the audience, and DOWNSTAGE is at the front, near the audience. STAGE LEF T and STAGE RIGHT are used to identify the sides of the stage. It is important to know that left and right are always from the performer's perspective from where they stand on the stage. You might be wondering why it is called "up" stage and “down” stage. This is because opera sets are frequently built on an angled platform or “deck” that is lower in the front near the apron and higher in the back. Thus, the lower end is “downstage” and the higher end is “upstage”.
ORCHESTR A PIT
VIEW OF THE ACADEMY OF MUSIC STAGE TAKE YOUR PLACES Pretend you are on the Academy of Music stage. The director needs you to take your place on stage. Follow the directions to indicate where you go.
Draw an X on DOWNSTAGE RIGHT
Draw an A on UPSTAGE RIGHT
Draw a Y on UPSTAGE LEFT
Draw a B on DOWNSTAGE LEFT
Draw a Z on DOWNSTAGE CENTER
Draw a C on UPSTAGE CENTER 7
O P E R AT I C Vo i c e Ty p e s Have you ever wondered why every person's voice sounds slightly different from each other? The human voice is a fascinating and complex instrument with many factors that go into why each person sounds different. The length and strength of the vocal chords, how thick the vocal chords are, the shape of the nasal passages, mouth, and throat all help to determine whether your voice will be high or low, bright or warm. In opera, we've classified the voice into seven main categories of voice types (from highest to lowest): soprano, mezzo-soprano, contralto, countertenor, tenor, baritone, and bass. Today, we still use these voice classifications. It is important to know that a person can only know their true voice type when they become an adult. Sometimes a person's voice type may even change. The following people have distinguished themselves as leaders of their voice type. Choose one of these opera singers to research and report back with your friends.
Brenda Rae soprano
Maria Callas soprano
Marian Anderson contralto
David Daniels countertenor
Jarrett Ott baritone
Thomas Hampson baritone
Photo Credits: Brenda Rae - Kristen Hoebermann; David Daniels Simon Pauly; Lawrence Brownlee - Ken Howard; Jarrett Ott - Dario Acosta; Thomas Hampson - Dario Acosta; Samuel Ramey - Christian Steiner; Morris Robsinson - Ron Cadiz.
Stephanie Blythe mezzo-soprano
Grace Bumbry mezzo-soprano
Lawrence Brownlee tenor
Mario Lanza tenor
Samuel Ramey bass
Morris Robinson bass
S O Y O U WA N T T O S I N G Like an Opera Singer? Singing on the opera stage is very hard work! Singers are like athletes, constantly training to perfect their voices. They ask their voices and bodies to do what most of us without training can’t do: sing incredibly intricate and difficult music and project their voices to be heard over a 60-piece orchestra without microphones or amplification. Singing begins with the human voice, a very versatile instrument. It can produce sounds that present a wide range of frequencies that we call pitches. Our voices are able to change in volume as a result of the air we exhale from our lungs and control with our diaphragm, a muscle right behind our stomach that separates the chest cavity from the abdomen. When we inhale deeply, the diaphragm lowers and the ribs and stomach expand as the lungs fill with air. Then the diaphragm forces the air out when it contracts, causing our vocal folds to vibrate. Vocal folds are fibrous bands that are stretched along the two sides of our larynx, or our sound instrument, just below the ‘Adam’s apple.’ When we hum, talk, or sing, air passes through the larynx causing the vocal folds to vibrate, creating a sound that is then shaped by the other parts of our bodies including the mouth, tongue, teeth, and lips. To sing different pitches and volumes, singers must control the flow of air, through the vocal folds in our larynx. They practice vocal exercises daily so that they can quickly adjust to the demands of the music without thinking about it. To see the vocal folds in action, visit tinyurl.com/cords-in-action To see how the diaphragm works, visit tinyurl.com/diaphragmatic-demo
TH E SINGING VOIC E AN EXPERIMENT Materials: Paper Cups, Rubber Band, Paper Clip We'll use the materials listed above to demonstrate how the vocal folds work to make the necessary pitches for speaking and singing. 1. Make a hole in the bottom of the cups. 2. C ut rubber bands so that they become long stretches of rubber. 3. P ull on the rubber band so that it vibrates. How does the pitch change? Record your findings. 4. T ie the rubber band to the paper clip, which should be larger than the hole in the cup. The rubber band should act as a plug to the hole. Be sure to tie the knot securely to the paper clip so that it doesn't slip out and eject from the cup. 5. S lide the rubber band through the small hole in the cup and pull it through until the paper clip catches on the inside bottom of the cup. 6. P ull on the rubber band again so that it vibrates a second time. Record your findings. 7. I n comparing the two sounds, what did you observe after the cup was added to the activity? 8. P lace different sized cups into your experiment and record your findings. 9. C over the cup opening with your hand. Pull on the rubber band. Record your findings. 10. S ee if you can get your cup to make sounds like a baby. 9
THE MAN BEHIND THE MUSIC Wo l f g a n g A m a d e u s M o z a r t
concertmaster. There, Mozart produced numerous works, including his Coronation Mass (1779) and Idomeneo (1779), an Italian opera that would become his first great operatic triumph. Mozart’s continued success caused him to resent his job as a court organist. He no longer wanted to have to write music as required by the elite. He wanted to have a new life, so, in 1781, he once again left his post at Salzburg.
Born on January 27, 1756 in Salzburg, Austria, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was destined for musical greatness. At the age of three, Mozart was able to pick out tunes on the piano. By five, he was composing music of his own. Mozart’s father, Leopold, recognized his son’s talents and felt that they needed to be shared. Leopold soon decided to leave his position as concertmaster in Salzburg and to take his family on a concert tour of Western Europe. On this tour, Mozart amazed court patrons with his performances at the major musical centers of Europe. He successfully composed not only his first orchestral symphony at age 8, but also his first opera, La finta semplice, by the age of 12. These achievements helped gain him the position of honorary Konzertmeister (or Music Director) at the Salzburg court. In 1777, Mozart left Salzburg in hopes of finding an even better job. He traveled throughout Germany but was unsuccessful in finding a position he liked. The next year, Mozart continued to Paris, where he composed his Symphony No. 31, known today as The Paris Symphony.
Having still not found a permanent new position, Mozart decided to return to Salzburg, a place he knew he would be welcomed back as court organist and
The year 1782 was fresh start for Mozart. It was that year when he married Constanze Weber and completed the opera The Abduction from the Seraglio, which was an immediate success. This period of time was very productive for Mozart as he met Italian librettist Lorenzo da Ponte. Their partnership produced three of the most beloved operas of Mozart’s career, the first of which, The Marriage of Figaro, premiered in Vienna in 1786. Don Giovanni and Così fan tutte followed soon after in 1787 and 1790. Despite these successes, Mozart and his wife lived well beyond their means and were in constant debt. In 1787, Mozart was appointed to the post of Chamber Music Director; however, the salary did little to lessen the couple’s financial hardships. In 1791, Mozart was commissioned to compose a score to Emanuel Schikaneder’s The Magic Flute, which was inspired by the group they were both members of, the Free Masons. The opera premiered in Vienna to large success. Also in 1791 was the premiere of La clemenza di Tito, which would be the last of Mozart’s 20 operas. In December 5, 1791, Mozart became quite ill and he died at the age of 35. Despite his unquestionable reputation as the greatest musical mind of his time, Mozart was buried with little ceremony in an unmarked grave in Vienna, as was legally required for all those without noble birth.
THE MAN BEHIND THE TEXT Lorenzo Da Ponte Did you know that Lorenzo Da Ponte, librettist for three of Mozart's most famous operas (including The Marriage of Figaro), lived in Philadelphia between 1811 and 1818? A native of Italy, Da Ponte immigrated to the United States from London in 1805. He settled first in New York City, and became an American citizen in 1811. Although he never lost his love for Italy, America gave Da Ponte a new home and a mission in life: to make Italy and Italian literature known in the New World. A poet, scholar, and teacher, with musical interests as well, Da Ponte arrived in America with a violin, a trunk of books, and little else. He quickly learned that he would not be able to live solely off a career as a poet, so he took on several odd jobs as well. In Philadelphia, these jobs included opening a millinery store (a store specializing in women's hats) on 29 North 2nd Street, and operating a delivery wagon which ran between Sunbury, PA and Philadelphia. Da Ponte dreamed of introducing Italian opera to the city. However, after the War of 1812, English opera became so popular that Philadelphians were disinterested in other kinds of opera. Da Ponte moved back to New York City in 1819, and worked at a bookstore where he came to know poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Clement Moore, author of the childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s classic The Night Before Christmas. Partially through the influence of his new friends, he became the first professor of Italian at Columbia College (now Columbia University) in 1825. The first performance of Da Ponte and Mozart's Italian version of Don Giovanni was finally presented on an American stage on May 23, 1826. Not only was Da Ponte present at the performance, but he was largely responsible for raising the money to pay the singers' salaries. In 1829, at age 80, Da Ponte began making arrangements for an
Italian opera company to come to America. This company arrived in 1832, giving 35 performances in New York and 24 in Philadelphia at the Chestnut Street Theatre. However, the opera season was a financial failure. Da Ponte insisted that the chief problem had been the lack of a proper theatre, an "Italian opera house." So once again the old man went to work, raising $150,000 for the construction of New York's Italian Opera House, the first building in the United States designed exclusively for opera. The opera house opened in 1833 and presented two seasons of opera before being sold in 1836 to new owners. In 1838, at age 89, Da Ponte died. He was buried in a New York Catholic cemetery, with his countrymen intending to build a monument in his memory. In 1887, to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the first performance of Don Giovanni, several Americans searched for the old cemetery where Da Ponte had been buried, only to find it had been paved over and all its records lost. It is unfortunate that someone who tried so hard to enrich the cultural life of his adopted country should lie, like his most famous collaborator Mozart, in an unmarked grave. Yet, both Da Ponte and Mozart have eternal monuments in the three great operas born of their mutual creativity. 11
THE COMEDY IN POLITICS A n a l y z i n g t h e Pa s t a n d P r e s e n t By Deborah Bambino “…Something for everyone, a comedy tonight!” proclaims Pseudolus, a slave in Stephen Sondheim’s 1962 musical, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. With these words, Pseudolus, invites the audience to sit back, relax, and enjoy the entertainment. All comedy is designed to make us laugh. Good comedy often gets us to laugh at ourselves. Great comedy uses humor to make fun, not only of individuals, but of groups and social institutions that hold power over others. Comics can make us stop and think. They question the status quo and often hold our leaders, their statements, and actions, up for a closer examination, an examination that sometimes exposes them in a ridiculous light. In ancient Greece, comedy was defined as a struggle between two groups, the young and the old, the powerful and the powerless. Like the late night talk show hosts of our time, the early comics had an impact on public opinion, and influenced the way the public voted. Today, on social media, there is an explosion of the use of humor to expose the hypocrisy, behavior, and policies of the ruling elite. Around the world, activists and everyday citizens anonymously take aim at the world’s current leaders. Here are just a few examples documented on New Tactics in Human Rights (newtactics.org).
• In Australia, some anti-nuclear activists presented an American warship with an outstanding parking violation in one of their harbors.
• In Russia, artist-activists turned potholes into paintings of their local leaders, who had failed to repair their streets.
A caricature of Yekaterinburg city manager, Aleksandr Yakob, which prompted the pothole-portrait protests. Photo: The Guardian, Itar-Tass
• In Cambodia, human rights activists
protested the ongoing evictions and widespread arrests of citizens with a “Gangnam Style” choreographed dance and song on Human Rights Day.
These activists are using humor to shake things up and promote change, with a wink and a smile. In the United States, comedians use their films, stand-up routines, and sitcoms to question race relations and the divide between the “haves and have nots” in our society. Whether it is a Key and Peele sketch about a substitute teacher who sees no need to pronounce the names of his high school students correctly, or a host like Trevor Noah, who interviews high profile individuals on The Daily Show, comics use everyday situations to expose the rifts in our racially and economically divided society. Black-ish, a popular comedy on ABC about a suburban African American family, contrasts the views and experiences of an upwardly mobile couple and their children with those of the couple's working class parents. The
show questions what it means to be black and successful today. In a recent episode, Dre, the father at the center of the show, affirmed his love for this country, even though he was clear the country doesn’t always love him back. Recent ensemble comedy Barbershop: Next Cut address issues like gang violence and recognize the community’s need to organize and solve its problems, given the ongoing neglect of the inner city by local and national government officials. When these real problems air as part of a sitcom or a witty interview on a nationally televised program, it enhances their potential to become part of popular conversation. These shows are part of the mainstream, they are viewed across ages and races, and therein lies their power to change the ways we think about and talk with each other. Opera buffa, or comic opera, is part of these same comedic traditions. The issues in these comic operas may seem tame by today’s standards, but when they were written they represented a real challenge to the powers of the land. The Marriage of Figaro, a play originally written in 1781 by a Frenchman, Pierre Beaumarchais, featured this soliloquy by the title character: Nobility, fortune, rank, position! How proud they make a man feel! What have you done to deserve such advantages? Put yourself to the trouble of being born—nothing more! For the rest—a very ordinary man! Whereas I, lost among the obscure crowd, have had to deploy more knowledge, more calculation and skill merely to survive than has sufficed to rule all the provinces of Spain for a century!
authorize the play’s production. It took three years, a private performance, and further editing before the play was staged for the public in France, where it was a popular hit. Three years later in Vienna, Mozart and his librettist began the work of translating Beaumarchais’s play into an opera. In 1786, Mozart’s comic opera, The Marriage of Figaro had its premier at the Burgtheater. In Mozart’s version, Figaro is no longer a frustrated revolutionary thinker. He has been reduced to a clever servant motivated by jealousy and a desire to protect the honor of his fiancée Susanna's honor from the lecherous clutches of his adulterous master. In every scene, Figaro is still able to outwit his master, the Count Almaviva, but his soliloquy is now limited to the repeated refrain, “you may go dancing, but I’ ll call the tune…” The overall power of the Count and the aristocracy is no longer in question. The tale becomes a madcap romantic comedy of manners with twists and turns, alliances and disguises, all designed to protect Susanna’s virtue while reigniting Count Almaviva’s love for his wife, the Countess. Throughout the piece, Figaro, with the help of Susanna and the Countess, manages to outsmart the Count until the befuddled “master” sings along with the full company that, “ love alone has won the day,” and turns to join in the marriage celebration of Figaro and Susanna. The Count is still in charge, but Figaro has won the day.
In the original, the author makes it clear that he believes the humble barber, Figaro, is the better man. In an effort to get around the censors of his time, Beaumarchais set the story in Spain, not his native France. But simply changing the setting was not enough as the King was still shocked and would not 13
B E A U M A R C H A I S , T H E R E V O L U T I O N I ST By Vincent Renou What if Hamilton, the celebrated Broadway musical about America’s founding fathers, needed to add a new character that lived during the American Revolution and who had an incredibly remarkable life? The answer would arguably have to be Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais, the original author of The Marriage of Figaro. Beaumarchais was a watchmaker, inventor, playwright, musician, diplomat, spy, publisher, arms-dealer, financier, and revolutionary (both French and American). Beaumarchais was clearly a jack-of-all-trades. Figaro, like Beaumarchais, was a man of modest birth who always found a way of being surrounded by rich and members of the powerful upper class. While Beaumarchais is known today primarily as the author of the “Figaro” plays, he was a celebrity of his time, before even writing a single word. He learned how to make watches from his watchmaker father and, at age 21, invented a new watch mechanism that would later be stolen by France’s royal clockmaker. Beaumarchais challenged the thief in court for stealing his idea and won. This was Beaumarchais' first claim to fame. He challenged the elite and won! His continued success as a watchmaker would eventually earn him the title of royal watchmaker for King Louis XV and his successor, Louis XVI. Both were amazed by his many talents, especially as a musician. He would become music teacher to the King’s four daughters and soon after court music director.
Given that he had the King’s trust, Beaumarchais was sent on several missions as a spy. One mission sent him to England where he was to destroy the Mémoires secrets d'une femme publique (Secret Stories from a
Public Woman) a document that if made public would damage the honor of the King's mistress. Beaumarchais succeeded in securing the pamphlet and destroyed it immediately. Beaumarchais was also instrumental in urging the French government to support the American Revolution. His visits to England made him aware of growing conflict with the United States. He sided entirely with the United States and decided to persuade the French government into supporting the colonial rebels. Because of Beaumarchais' efforts, France would soon send 40 boats to bring aid to the United States. Around the same time, Beaumarchais’ literary career began with Eugenié (1767), a play that would become a total failure. In 1775, his The Barber of Seville – which Gioacchino Rossini would set as a comic opera in 1813 - would bring him instant acclaim. His next success, The Marriage of Figaro, which brought to light his many struggles with aristocracy, would appear on stage in 1784. Beaumarchais had a talent for being in the right place at the right time. However, his luck would soon come to an end when, in 1799, he died at the age of 67. With such an adventurous life, don’t you think it would make a great plot for a future opera?
THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO C a s t a n d C r e a t i v e Te a m Final Dress Rehearsalâ&#x20AC;&#x201C;Wednesday, April 26, 2017, 2:00 p.m. at the Academy of Music. Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte. Performed in Italian with English supertitles.
C O U N T A L M AV I VA
C O U N T E S S A L M AV I VA
Layla Claire* soprano
Brandon Cedel baritone
CHERU BI NO
John Chest* baritone
Ying Fang* soprano
Cecelia Hall mezzo-soprano
M A RCELLI NA
Lucy Schaufer* mezzo-soprano
F IGA RO
Patrick Carfizzi* bass-baritone
DON BA SILIO & DON CUR ZIO
Christopher Gillett* tenor
B A R B A R I N A Ashley Milanese*
A N T O N I O Thomas Shivone
B R I D E S M A I D S Amy Spencer, Maren Montalbano C O N D U C T O R Corrado Rovaris
D I R E C T O R Stephen Lawless
A S S I S T A N T D I R E C T O R S E T & C O S T U M E D E S I G N
Sean Eric Fogel*
L I G H T I N G D E S I G N Thomas Hase*
C H O R U S M A S T E R Elizabeth Braden *Opera Philadelphia debut
INSIDE THE DESIGN of The Marriage of Figaro
Leslie Travers The Marriage of Figaro Costume and Set Designer
When designing the set for The Marriage of Figaro, Leslie Travers wanted to first create a world that focuses on the ever-changing life of Count Almaviva. Most of the beginning of the opera is set in the grand old house of Count Almaviva. While you might expect the house of a count to be bright and elegant, Travers chose to give this estate a visual sense of decay to represent how things in the Count's life have reached a bit of disorder. The costumes Travers designed also serve a similar purpose. Travers uses color as one way to reflect the journey of each character. For example, when the Count comes out at the very beginning of the opera, he is in very bright, solid colors to represent power and strength. However, as the opera progresses these colors begin to fade and symbolize the Count's crumbling world. To learn more about Travers' design for The Marriage of Figaro, visit the links below. Walking Down the Aisle: The Set of The Marriage of Figaro
tinyurl.com/figarocostumes Say Yes to the Dress: The Costumes of The Marriage of Figaro
THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO Libretto ACT ONE
SUSANNA I have reasons enough.
Scene 1 An incompletely furnished room, with an armchair in the middle. Figaro has a ruler in his hand, Susanna is seated at a mirror, trying on a small, flowered hat.
FIGARO I can’t believe it. How can you deny the gift of this room when it’s the best spot in the palace?
FIGARO Fifteen, sixteen, twenty, thirty, thirtyseven by forty-three. SUSANNA Oh, this hat is simply lovely, everything a hat should be. Take a look, my darling Figaro. I will wear it at the wedding. FIGARO It will make a great sensation: everything a hat should be. SUSANNA Look, my love. FIGARO Yes, I’ve seen it. And yes, it’s charming. SUSANNA We will make a lovely couple when the knot is tied. SUSANNA, FIGARO Yes, it is our wedding morning, and to crown all the joy we are sharing, your/my Susanna will be wearing such a beautiful hat for a bride. SUSANNA I’m so clever. What on earth are you measuring, my darling Figaretto? FIGARO I’m seeing if the bed that the Count said he’ll give us would fit inside our beautiful new home. SUSANNA Don't you mean this room? FIGARO Certainly, and it’s a very generous gift from his lordship. SUSANNA You can sleep on your own then! FIGARO Why so unreasonable?
SUSANNA Because I’m Susanna and you’re a half-wit! FIGARO Flattery will get you nowhere. But, Susanetta, see if you can find a bedroom which is better. Supposing one evening the Countess should need you. Ding ding! Then she won’t have to ring more than twice. And then it might happen my master should want me. Dong dong! I’d be there by his side in no time. SUSANNA Supposing one morning, our sweet little Count were to call you. Ding ding! And to send you a long way away. Ding ding! If he wants me he knows where to find me; he’ll be there behind me. FIGARO Take care what you say. SUSANNA Listen, if you want the story, then don’t be suspicious – it’s grossly unfair. FIGARO I do want the story: my nagging suspicions are too much to bear. SUSANNA All right, shut up and listen. Our noble Count, weary of chasing all the pretty girls in the neighborhood, has decided to try his luck just a bit nearer home. And it’s not with his wife the Countess, more’s the pity. He’s lost his appetite for her. FIGARO Well then, who is it? SUSANNA It’s your very own Susanna! Who else? And when he needs me he won’t have far to wander. Proximity makes the heart grow fonder. 17
FIGARO Bravo! I get the picture. SUSANNA So much for all his charity and all his kindness, so attentive to our every need. FIGARO Oh yes, I see. That’s charity indeed! SUSANNA Wait a bit, it gets better. Don Basilio, who teaches me singing, acts as his agent, so instead of singing pretty phrases he only sings his master’s praises. And you imagine that it was thanks to your good looks that I got such a handsome dowry? FIGARO I hoped I had a hand in it. SUSANNA Well, so did he, and soon he’ll want to get his hands on me, to claim his power. FIGARO Never! I thought he’d abolished that shameful tradition. SUSANNA He regrets the abolition and now he’s keen to reinstate it with me. FIGARO Splendid! That’s perfect! So, Count Almaviva, you are looking for some fun? We can provide it… (Bell rings from the Countess) Who’s ringing? It’s your mistress. SUSANNA No time for a farewell kiss, I must be running. FIGARO Be brave, my dearest darling. (Susanna exits.) FIGARO Bravo, my lord and master! Now I’m beginning to see how you’ve planned it. It’s all very simple when you start to understand it. We’re off to London, you as minister, me as messenger, and my Susanna to help and support you. Well, if that’s what you’re up to, Figaro has caught you! So, little master, you’re dressed to go dancing. I’ll put an end to your fun pretty soon. If you want dancing, I’ll be your master; faster and faster, dance till you drop. You’ll see, Figaro, be careful! Stay under cover, then you’ll discover what he’s about. I will be cunning, slyly deceiving, cutting 18
Figaro and Susanna get ready for their wedding day in their new room in the palace. Photo: Dana Sohm / Lyric Opera Kansas City
and running, ducking and weaving. He may be clever but he’s met his match. I can undo any scheme he can hatch. So, little master, you’re dressed to go dancing; dressed in your best to go strutting and prancing. I’ll put an end to your fun pretty soon; you may go dancing but I’ll call the tune, yes, I’ll call the tune. (Figaro exits, Bartolo and Marcellina enter.) BARTOLO But why did you wait till the day of the wedding to appoint me your adviser? MARCELLINA I’m very confident, dear doctor, you can break up any couple, even at the altar: all you need is the right information. I happen to have it here. According to this contract he must pay back my money or else…. Listen, only Susanna stands in our way. We must be certain that she continues to reject the Count’s advances. He’ll want to get his own back, so he’ll act in my favor and Figaro will have to be my husband. BARTOLO Splendid, delighted to help. You will instruct me. (I’d be delighted to fob him off with my old housemaid Marcellina, as revenge
for robbing me of my Rosina!) Now for glorious vengeance! Vengeance has the sweetest flavor. He who lets a crime go unpunished is twice as guilty. I will beat him, I’ll unseat him, I will fight him and defeat him. Yes, I swear I will beat him, it won’t be easy, but I’m sure to win the case. If I can outwit him with some ambiguity, where there’s a will there must be a way. I’m Doctor Bartolo! That bastard Figaro, I’ll make him pay. (Bartolo exits, Susanna enters.) MARCELLINA (So all is not lost, I can still live in hope. If it isn’t Susanna! Let’s test the water… Pretend I haven’t seen her…) (In a loud voice for Susanna to hear) So that’s the little jewel Figaro thinks he’ll marry! SUSANNA (to herself) What’s that she’s saying? MARCELLINA You’d think he could do better, but you know the old proverb: Money is all. SUSANNA (confronting Marcellina) How dare you! Who would waste a nickel on you! MARCELLINA Well done! The fair Susanna – such an innocent manner, so demure and so proper, so virginal… SUSANNA I’d better go. MARCELLINA I’d better stop her! I bow to your grace – after you, I implore you. SUSANNA But I know my place so I won’t go before you. SUSANNA, MARCELLINA I know what is proper to say and to do. MARCELLINA The spotless madonna. SUSANNA The matron of honor. MARCELLINA The Count’s little treasure. SUSANNA The lady of pleasure.
MARCELLINA Your quality… SUSANNA Quantity… MARCELLINA Your status. SUSANNA Your age! MARCELLINA Oh, this is unbearable! I’m bursting with rage! SUSANNA You gaudy old parakeet, go back in your cage! (Marcellina exits.) SUSANNA Good riddance, you old spinster, frustrated old schoolmarm! Just because you taught my lady, don’t start thinking you can lord it over me. (Cherubino enters.) CHERUBINO Oh, thank heavens it’s you. SUSANNA It’s me. What do you want? CHERUBINO The Count! Yesterday he caught me alone with Barbarina; he dismissed me on the spot, and if the Countess, my beautiful Countess, doesn’t plead for my reinstatement then I am done for. Ah, never more to see my dear Susanna! SUSANNA Never more to see me? Typical! What about your passion for the Countess? You used to worship her. CHERUBINO Ah! If only I dared to come near her! You’re so lucky, you see her whenever you want to: you dress her in the morning, undress her in the evening, always fiddling with her ribbons and her laces…. Can’t we swap places? What’s that? Let me see it! SUSANNA Ah, that’s a ribbon from her favorite bonnet, the one she goes to bed in. CHERUBINO (snatching the ribbon) Oh, give it me, I beg you; give it for pity’s sake! 19
SUSANNA Give it back!
SUSANNA May I say something?
CHERUBINO (covering the ribbon with kisses) O sweetest, o fairest, o most divine of ribbons! I will wear it till the day I die!
COUNT Say it, my darling, for you must claim the rights which are yours today and always. Ask me, compel me, command me.
SUSANNA That’s disgraceful behavior!
SUSANNA What do you mean by rights? I don’t claim them, I don’t want them, I don’t expect them. I’m so unhappy!
CHERUBINO Now don’t be angry, I’ve something here for you: a little song I’ve been writing. SUSANNA What am I supposed to do with it? CHERUBINO Read it to the Countess, read it to yourself, to Barbarina, Marcellina – to every woman in the palace. SUSANNA Poor little Cherubino, have you gone mad? CHERUBINO I don’t know what it is that I’m feeling, why my brain and my senses are reeling; every woman I see makes me tremble with pleasure and pain. Speak of love and my heart is a-flutter, say the word and I turn into butter. All through the day I’m yearning, all through the night I’m burning; I serenade the mountains, the trees, the glade, the fountains, so all the world can share it. And then the breeze may bear it into the wide unknown. And when there’s no one near me, no, not a soul to hear me, I sing it all alone. (Cherubino sees the Count) Now I’m done for! SUSANNA What’s the matter? CHERUBINO It’s the Count! What shall I do? (Cherubino hides. The Count enters.) COUNT Susanna, you are looking rather nervous and flustered. SUSANNA My lord, I beg your pardon, but, if someone should see us – I beg you leave at once. COUNT I’ll leave when I’m ready. Listen, you know the King has appointed me ambassador to London. I have decided Figaro will go with me. 20
COUNT Ah yes, Susanna, but I can make you happy! You know how much I love you – at least I’m sure Basilio has told you. If you’d grant me a moment’s bliss in the garden later on this evening… you would see that I know how to be grateful. BASILIO (offstage) I think he’s just gone out. COUNT Who’s that? SUSANNA Oh heavens! COUNT Go out there – send them away! I'll hide behind the chair. SUSANNA Oh no, it’s useless! (The Count hides behind the chair as Cherubino runs round to hide in it; Susanna covers Cherubino with a sheet. Basilio enters.) BASILIO Susanna, heaven bless you! I suppose you wouldn’t have seen the Count? SUSANNA And why should I have seen the Count? Sorry, can’t help you. BASILIO Just a moment, it seems that Figaro wants to see him. SUSANNA (Oh heavens!) To see the man who hates him more than you do. COUNT (Let’s see if he betrays me.) BASILIO Well, that’s a thing I’ve never heard before, that if you love someone’s wife you have to hate the husband. Which is to say his lordship loves you.
SUSANNA How vile to be the agent of another man’s lust! I spit on your sermons, they mean nothing to me. I don’t want the Count, I don’t want his love. BASILIO Well, suit yourself then. When it comes to a lover you’d prefer someone fine and aristocratic to some page boy in the attic! SUSANNA Cherubino? BASILIO Yes, Cherubino, our little household Cupid. I saw him here this morning, he was sniffing round your doorway; very stupid.
BASILIO, COUNT Ah, the little darling's fainted. BASILIO (approaching the armchair to sit Susanna down in it) Sit here, you’ll feel much better. SUSANNA Ah, where am I? Ah, how dare you! Go away and let me be, oh go away and let me be! BASILIO, COUNT Do not worry, I will not hurt you, and your virtue is safe with me. BASILIO Cherubino’s reputation is merely gossip and speculation.
SUSANNA You’re disgusting, spying on all the servants!
SUSANNA Pure invention, pay no attention; not a word of it is true.
BASILIO I don’t think I’m disgusting, I’m just observant! And what about that love song? I wouldn’t want to pry, but I’m your friend, I can keep a secret. Was it for you or for my lady?
COUNT Find him, find the dirty rascal!
SUSANNA (Whoever could have told him?) BASILIO By the way, you should teach him to behave more discreetly; that rather frank way he stares at her at meal times, devouring her completely. I hope the Count hasn’t noticed. You know what he’s like: a tiger when he is roused… SUSANNA You snake! Spreading gossip and inventing iniquitous rumors! BASILIO No, you misjudge me. I’m very strict with rumors: I repeat what people are saying, I never embellish.
SUSANNA, BASILIO Ah, forgive him! SUSANNA, BASILIO He’s a baby! COUNT He’s a baby? That may be but I know much more than you. He’s a baby; not as much as you might think. SUSANNA, BASILIO Tell us! What? COUNT It happened yesterday. Barbarina’s door was locked so I knock, then she opens it, blushing rather sweetly; this arouses my suspicions, so I search the room completely. Then I gently raise the cover from the table and then discover that damned pageboy…(discovering Cherubino under the sheet covering the chair) I don’t believe it!
COUNT (emerging) Really? And what are people saying? It’s outrageous! Search the castle, find the rascal and bring him here.
SUSANNA Heavens, how frightful!
BASILIO My intrusion brought confusion, I’m not wanted, I’ll disappear.
COUNT Oh, the virtuous Susanna!
COUNT Go and find him, the rascal! SUSANNA (fainting) I am ruined, I am done for, I am faint with pain and fear!
BASILIO Ah, how delightful!
SUSANNA It’s the worst that could have happened. God in heav’n, what shall I do? It’s the worst that could have happened.
The vassals honor the Count in Susanna and Figaro's bedroom. Photo: Dana Sohm / Lyric Opera Kansas City
BASILIO That’s the way with pretty women, her behavior’s nothing new.
CHERUBINO Then I ran round the front and hid inside it.
COUNT Now I see that it was true. Oh, the virtuous Susanna! Basilio, run and tell Figaro to come here. (indicating Cherubino) I want him to see this.
COUNT My God! He’s heard every word of our conversation!
SUSANNA And I want him to hear this; go quickly!
BASILIO Be careful, someone’s coming.
COUNT One moment. Why so fearless? You’re plainly guilty, so let’s hear your excuses. SUSANNA Virtue like mine needs no excuses. COUNT But how long had he been here? SUSANNA He was already here when you entered; he’d come to beg me to intercede with my lady on his behalf. He was alarmed by your sudden intrusion so he hid by the chair in his confusion. COUNT But I sat in the chair when I came in! CHERUBINO I ran round the back and hid behind it. COUNT And when I went behind it? 22
CHERUBINO I tried to hear as little as possible.
COUNT (pulling Cherubino out of the armchair) And you, you little snake – I’ll deal with you later! (Figaro and vassals enter.) VASSALS Praise and adore him, bow down before him, mighty and merciful, our noble lord. He has protected, he has respected this fairest flower of all womankind. Honor and virtue sweetly combined. COUNT (to Figaro) So what is all this nonsense? FIGARO (to Susanna) (Here’s where the fun starts. Think quickly, my Susanna.) SUSANNA (We haven’t a hope.) FIGARO My lord, in our own humble way we bring a fitting tribute to your enlightened attitude; we wish to express our gratitude for not enforcing the rights of long ago.
COUNT Those rights have been abolished, as well you know. FIGARO And we are the first to reap the fruit of your enlightened position. To celebrate the passing of this tradition, will you present this white and spotless garment? It was made to adorn the pure Susanna, as a symbol of her virtue and of her honor. COUNT (He’s cunning as the devil! I can hardly refuse). I’m very grateful for this thoughtful gesture, but I’m hardly worthy to receive such an honor. When I abolished that shameful tradition I was merely restoring natural order. ALL Hurrah! SUSANNA What restraint! FIGARO And what virtue! COUNT As I have promised I’ll perform the marriage ceremony, but first let me crave your indulgence: give me time to gather my faithful subjects, so our jubilation and your joy will be all the greater. (I must find Marcellina.) My friends, till later. (Vassals exit.) FIGARO, SUSANNA, BASILIO God bless you! FIGARO (to Cherubino) Why aren’t you joining in? SUSANNA He doesn’t feel like singing because the Count has dismissed him. FIGARO What? Today of all days! When the world is rejoicing! SUSANNA On the day of our wedding! CHERUBINO Your lordship, please forgive me.
SUSANNA He is only a baby. COUNT Well, he’s growing up fast. CHERUBINO I’ve behaved very badly; but I can keep a secret… COUNT All right, I will pardon you – and I will go one better: there is a vacancy for an officer in my regiment. You’ve got the job, congratulations, leave at once! SUSANNA, FIGARO Please let him stay today! COUNT Those are my orders! CHERUBINO My lord and master speaks, and I obey. COUNT For the very last time you may kiss your Susanna. (Well, that was rather brilliant!) FIGARO Hey, gallant soldier, one final embrace. (softly, to Cherubino) (I need a word with you before you go.) Farewell, dear little Cherubino. Say goodbye to the past, look to the future! Here’s an end to your life as a rover, here’s an end to the young Casanova. It was fun for a while, but it’s over; we will soon wipe the smile off your face. Here’s an end to our proud little peacock, scrubbed and powdered and primped to perfection. Here’s an end to your girlish complexion, to your ribbons and satins and lace. We will soon wipe the smile off your face. Off you go to join the fighting! You may find it quite exciting. Wearing armor may not suit you, but it’s handy when they shoot you. All around you the battle rages; think of fame, not of the wages. After twenty days of marching you will wish that you were dead, and all the trumpeting and drumming means the enemy is coming, and the bullets will be humming all around your pretty head. Here’s an end to airs and graces, pretty hats, pretty laces. You may live to tell the story and I rather hope you do, for it’s off to death and glory, it’s a soldier’s life for you.
COUNT You don’t deserve it. 23
husbands – they’re unfaithful on principle, by nature capricious. It’s only pride that makes them all jealous. But if Figaro loves you... (Figaro enters.) FIGARO La la la la la… SUSANNA Here he is. Come and help us. My lady is anxious. FIGARO No need to worry, it’s all going smoothly and this is the position: it seems that his lordship has intentions towards my Susanna; with cunning deceit he hopes to reinstate his traditional rights. The whole thing’s very possible and very natural. COUNTESS, SUSANNA Possible? Natural? The Countess laments the loss of her husband's love. Photo: Dana Sohm / Lyric Opera Kansas City
FIGARO Perfectly natural! And if Susanna wants it, perfectly possible. SUSANNA Will you get to the point.
ACT TWO Scene one A luxurious room with an alcove and three doors. COUNTESS Hear my prayer, humbly I beg you, soothe my sorrow, my lonely sigh. Oh, may his love be reawakened, or let me die. Hear my prayer, I humbly beg you, soothe my sorrow, heed my cry. (Susanna enters) Come here, dear Susanna, and finish your story. SUSANNA No more to tell you. COUNTESS But he tried to seduce you. SUSANNA No, not exactly; he wouldn’t waste compliments on a girl of my position. It was more a financial proposition. COUNTESS You see, he no longer loves me. SUSANNA Then why on earth is he jealous? COUNTESS That is the way with all modern 24
FIGARO This is the point. When he goes off to London, he’ll take me as his courier and my Susanna as his personal assistant for his personal enjoyment. And when Susanna refuses this offer of employment, then he’ll threaten to support Marcellina. That is all there is to say. SUSANNA How can you take the whole thing so lightly? It’s a serious matter. FIGARO I may be joking, but I’m taking it seriously. Here’s how I'll plan it: I’m going to send the Count an anonymous letter, via Don Basilio, informing him of a secret affair, that tonight while we’re feasting you’ll be meeting a lover. COUNTESS Oh no, you mustn’t! You know he’s so jealous! FIGARO So much the better. SUSANNA But we still have to deal with Marcellina.
FIGARO I want you to tell his lordship that this evening he’s to meet you in the garden; and little Cherubino, if he’s taken my advice he won’t have left yet. We’ll dress him as a woman, then he can take your place in the garden; the Count will relent – he’ll have to, of course, for when Madama finds him in the grounds she’ll have grounds for divorce.
COUNTESS Take my guitar, Susanna, and play it with him.
COUNTESS What d’you think? It’s very risky…
CHERUBINO Tell me what love is; what can it be? What is this yearning burning in me? Can I survive it, will I endure? This is my sickness; is there a cure? First this obsession seizing my brain, starting in passion, ending in pain; I start to shiver, then I’m on fire, then I’m a-quiver with seething desire. Who knows the secret, who holds the key? I long for something – what can it be? My brain is reeling; I wonder why. And then the feeling I’m going to die. By day it haunts me, haunts me by night, this tender torment tinged with delight.
SUSANNA It might work. If we can convince him… but we must hurry. FIGARO His lordship’s out hunting, and won’t be back for an hour or two. I’m off now; I’ll send Cherubino straight to you. When he comes you can dress him. I’ll put an end to your fun pretty soon; you may go dancing but I’ll call the tune. (Figaro exits.) COUNTESS How it grieves me, Susanna, to think that Cherubino heard all that nonsense my husband has told you. Ah, you can’t know… Why didn’t Cherubino come to me for protection? Where’s the song he gave you? SUSANNA Here it is. As soon as he comes in let’s make him sing it. Quiet, someone’s coming. It’s him! (Cherubino enters.) Look who it is, it’s our handsome young officer! CHERUBINO Ah, do not call me by that hateful title. It just reminds me that I am forced to leave her, my Countess Almaviva.
CHERUBINO But will my lady accept this humble gift I’m bringing? SUSANNA Of course she will, of course; stop talking and start singing.
COUNTESS Bravo, your voice is lovely! I never knew that you could sing so sweetly. SUSANNA Oh, he’s so good at anything he chooses to do. Come along, handsome soldier – has Figaro explained? CHERUBINO Yes, he’s explained. SUSANNA Then let me have a look; oh yes, that’s perfect, you’re the same height as me. Take your coat off. COUNTESS What are you doing?
SUSANNA Isn’t she lovely?
SUSANNA Don’t be nervous.
CHERUBINO Ah yes, she is!
COUNTESS But someone might come in.
SUSANNA (mocking Cherubino) Ah yes, she is! You great hypocrite! Remember the song you gave me this morning? Sing it to the Countess.
SUSANNA Let them. It’s not illegal. I’ll just lock the door. What on earth shall we do with his hair?
COUNTESS Tell me who wrote it. SUSANNA He did. And he’s so modest – look, he’s blushing like a schoolgirl.
COUNTESS Fetch me a bonnet from my dressing room, quickly! (Susanna goes to fetch a bonnet.) What is that paper? CHERUBINO My commission. 25
COUNTESS Well, they don’t waste much time! CHERUBINO It was sent via Basilio. COUNTESS In their hurry, they’ve forgotten to seal it.
COUNTESS No, higher, like this. (discovering a ribbon tied around Cherubino’s arm) Now what’s this ribbon? SUSANNA The one he stole from me.
SUSANNA (returning) Forgotten to seal what?
COUNTESS But it’s blood-stained.
COUNTESS His commission.
CHERUBINO It’s blood-stained? But how can that be? Oh, I remember… Yes, of course; I slipped and fell and cut myself, so I bandaged the wound with this ribbon.
SUSANNA They don’t waste much time! Here is your bonnet. COUNTESS Quickly now, at the double! If the Count were to see us then there’d be trouble! SUSANNA Kneel down and let me look at you – (Susanna takes Cherubino and makes him kneel a slight distance from the Countess, who has seated herself.) for Heaven’s sake keep still. Now let me take a look at you. Splendid! That fits the bill! (While Susanna is dressing his hair, Cherubino regards the Countess tenderly.) Why can’t you keep your eyes on me? Stop looking over there. (Continuing to dress Cherubino’s hair, Susanna places the bonnet on him.) Try not to fidget, let’s have a look at you. Please concentrate – thank you. We’ll do this up more neatly…Now drop your eyes discreetly…Now try and smile more sweetly. You’ll spoil it all completely with that ungracious frown. Let’s have you on your feet, please; try walking up and down. He’s really rather charming he’s thoroughly disarming. A little bit unsteady, but loving it already. He’s got a certain something you can’t deny; all women seem to love him and I see why, I see the reason why. COUNTESS Enough of this nonsense! SUSANNA It may be nonsense, but it’s making me jealous! You little monkey, how dare you be so pretty? It’s outrageous! COUNTESS That’s quite enough of that…Now, will you help me roll up his sleeves past the elbow. That way the dress will sit more comfortably on his shoulders. 26
SUSANNA (doing so) This way.
SUSANNA Just show me. You’ll survive! Amazing, his arm’s more fair than mine. It’s just like a girl’s! COUNTESS Can’t you ever be serious? Go into my dressing room. On the little desk you’ll find a bandage. As for this ribbon, who knows…I like the color, I’d be sorry to part with it. SUSANNA The bandage. But how shall we tie it up? COUNTESS Another ribbon; bring it here. CHERUBINO No! With that one it’ll heal all the quicker. A ribbon which has touched the hair, or even touched the flesh of someone… COUNTESS (interrupting Cherubino) Someone else, then it heals you straight away? Does it really? Well, you learn something new every day! CHERUBINO How can you tease me? You know I have to leave you. COUNTESS Who’s a poor wounded soldier! CHERUBINO I’m so unhappy! COUNTESS (very moved) You’re crying… CHERUBINO Oh God! I wish that I was dying! As I approached my final moment, you’d bend down and you’d kiss me.
Cherubino sings a song to the Countess as Susanna plays the guitar. Photo: Dana Sohm / Lyric Opera Kansas City
COUNTESS (drying Cherubino’s eyes with a handkerchief) Don’t be silly – you know this is madness. (knock on door)Who’s knocking at the door? COUNT (outside) Why is this locked?
COUNTESS That’s true… but I was… yes, I was in here trying clothes on with Susanna. She’s gone back to her room. COUNT Nevertheless, you seem to be distracted. I’ve just received this letter.
COUNTESS It’s my husband – God help us! He’ll kill me, and you, without your breeches – just look at you! He will have read the letter, and he can be so jealous…
COUNTESS (Heavens! The letter that Figaro wrote him.)
COUNT Why are you waiting?
COUNT What’s making that noise? I could have sworn something fell over.
COUNTESS I’m alone… Yes, alone. CHERUBINO After all that has happened he’ll be furious, and certain to suspect me. (Cherubino hides.) COUNTESS Heavenly father, please protect me! (She unlocks the door to admit the Count, who enters.) COUNT What does this mean? It was never your custom to lock yourself in your bedroom.
(Cherubino knocks something over.)
COUNTESS I didn’t hear anything. COUNT Because you’ve got something else on your mind. COUNTESS Like what? COUNT Somebody’s in there! COUNTESS And who might that be? COUNT I’m asking you; I’ve only just arrived. 27
COUNTESS Oh yes, Susanna… Susanna… COUNT Who’s gone back, or so you said, to her own room? COUNTESS To her room, or mine, I can’t remember. COUNT Susanna? So why this over-anxious manner? I may be wrong, but you looked all hot and bothered.
SUSANNA There’s bound to be a scandal; a terrible catastrophe is sure to happen now! COUNTESS, COUNT My lord/lady, we must be careful; a scandal is unthinkable, it must not be allowed. COUNT So you’re proposing not to open it?
COUNTESS Normally it’s you who gets all hot and bothered over Susanna!
COUNTESS How dare you even ask me to open the door?
COUNT Well, that’s as may be, and as she’s in there let’s see her.
COUNT Well, suit yourself. Why waste time with keys? I'll knock it down.
(Susanna enters and hides.)
COUNTESS What’s this? How dare you impugn the honor of a lady?
COUNT Come out of there, Susanna! Come out of there, I say! COUNTESS She can’t come out, believe me. SUSANNA But where is Cherubino? How did he get away? COUNT You dare to contradict me? Why? COUNTESS Her manners shame your own: She’s trying on her wedding dress. COUNT (Her lover’s in there hiding, oh yes, I should have known.) COUNTESS, SUSANNA An uglier/trickier situation I’ve never ever known. COUNT Susanna! Come out this minute! COUNTESS Be sensible! I beg you! COUNT Come out, I say! COUNTESS Why should the girl obey? COUNT Give me at least an answer, yes, speak to me Susanna. 28
COUNTESS No, no, I say you’re not to; I order you, be silent!
COUNT You’re right. Excuse me; any noise of disturbance will provoke all sorts of gossip among the servants. I think I’ll lock every single door. (The Count does so.) COUNTESS (What behavior!) COUNT Would you condescend to come with me, my lady? Will you do me the honor? Here’s my arm. COUNTESS Here’s mine. COUNT (indicating the dressing room) Don’t you worry about Susanna; she’ll be fine. (The Count and Count exit. Susanna moves to the closest door.) SUSANNA Don’t worry, Cherubino, it’s only me, Susanna. Don’t worry, but hurry. We’ll get you out of here. CHERUBINO (Exiting the closet) I’m absolutely petrified, I’m paralyzed with fear. SUSANNA Oh dear, the doors are locked and bolted, oh dear, we’ll never ever get you out of here.
CHERUBINO The doors are locked and bolted, oh dear, you’ll never ever get me out of here. I mustn’t meet the master. SUSANNA Yes, that would be disaster. CHERUBINO There’s only one solution: I’ll jump into the garden. SUSANNA You’ll only break your ankle – don’t do it! Come back for pity’s sake. SUSANNA It’s far too high to risk it! CHERUBINO Let me go! Let me go! For my lady I would jump from even higher. I’m ready, this is goodbye. SUSANNA You’ll only break your ankle – ah! what a way to die! (Cherubino jumps.) Oh God, Cherubino! Look at the little devil! How he’s running, disappearing in the distance. Right, no time for me to waste. He’ll be back here any minute, and when he comes into the room guess who’ll be in it! (Susanna enters the closet. The Count and Countess enter. The Count brings a hammer and a crow-bar. He examines all the doors.) COUNT Everything as I left it. For the last time, will you open it or shall I? (He prepares to force open the door.) COUNTESS Wait a minute and allow me to speak. Do you think I’ve betrayed you? COUNT Just as you wish, when I can look inside and see the truth for myself. COUNTESS Yes, you can see, but you must be prepared. COUNT So it isn’t Susanna? COUNTESS No, someone else altogether, someone who could never give you cause for concern. You see, for this evening we were trying
out a game – a charade – and I swear nothing immodest, nothing bad, nothing wrong… COUNT Who is it? Tell me, I will kill him! COUNTESS He’s just a boy. COUNT Just a boy? COUNTESS Yes. Cherubino. COUNT (Why is it my misfortune to bump into that boy at every turning?) Really? He hasn’t gone yet? He’s disobeyed me? Now the light starts to dawn, I can see things much better. Now I understand the meaning of that letter. Out you come, you vile seducer, wretched boy, come out of there! COUNTESS Do not hurt him, I beseech you; he is innocent, I swear. This is more than I can bear. COUNT Yet again you dare refuse me! COUNTESS Well, it might arouse suspicion, groundless suspicion, when you see him in this condition, all disheveled, with his hair down… He was wearing women’s clothing… COUNT I have always thought you shameless, but how could you stoop so low? COUNTESS I protest that I am blameless, you are wrong to doubt me so! COUNT Bring the key here! COUNTESS He has done nothing! COUNT I know nothing! Don’t compound your foul offence. Must you denigrate my name? Must you cover me with shame? COUNTESS Jealous rage has fired his passion, full of anger and of shame. COUNT I will kill him! He has dared to stain my honor, he has dared to debase my noble name. 29
COUNT Susanna!? COUNTESS Susanna!?!
COUNTESS Rosina? No, not any longer. For now you neglect me, despise and reject me, delight in my misery and laugh at my pain.
SUSANNA You called, sir? You seem quite appalled, sir. (ironically) The guilty offender has come to surrender; It’s not Cherubino, it’s just little me.
COUNT I’m sorry I hurt you, made light of your virtue. Forgive me, my lady, and love me again. You swore he was in there. So why were you panicking?
COUNT It can’t be! I hardly believe what I see.
COUNTESS Only to test you and to tease you.
COUNTESS (Susanna was in there, but how could that be?)
COUNT Well, whose was that letter then?
SUSANNA (They simply refuse to believe what they see.) COUNT Who’s with you? SUSANNA There’s no one, but do go and see. (The Count goes to look for himself.) COUNTESS I cannot believe it – Susanna, where is he? SUSANNA He jumped from the window and managed to flee. COUNT (comes out of the dressing room in confusion) I don’t understand it – I hardly believe it – if I have offended, forgive me, I beg you. Your joke was a cruel one, though you’ve had your fun. SUSANNA, COUNTESS How can we forgive you the wrong you have done? COUNT I love you! I swear it! COUNTESS Don’t say that! How can you? You called me unfaithful, you doubted my honor. COUNT Come help me, Susanna, to steady her nerve. SUSANNA A husband who’s jealous cannot be excused. My lady… 30
COUNTESS, SUSANNA Invented by Figaro and sent by Basilio. COUNT The traitors, I’ll teach them. COUNTESS, SUSANNA The way you’ve behaved you can hardly complain. COUNT I’m sure you’ll forgive me, my darling Rosina. COUNTESS You see, my Susanna, I’m so tender-hearted. Who will ever believe in the fury of a women scorned again? SUSANNA They always get round us, so much for our freedom; there’s always a man who is holding the reins. COUNT Please look at me. I wronged you; and I’m sorry. SUSANNA This bitter experience may teach them to love one another again. COUNT, COUNTESS This bitter experience may teach us to love one another again. We will learn to love each other again. (Figaro enters.) FIGARO The wedding procession is ready and waiting. You hear the musicians so with your permission we’ll follow our friends who await us
to dance at our wedding, our glorious day. So with your permission we’ll hurry away. COUNT Before you rush off I have something to say. SUSANNA, COUNTESS, FIGARO Who knows what will happen, or what he will say? COUNT There’re one or two cards that I still have to play. COUNT Let me try to jog your memory. (shows him the letter) Have you seen this note before?
COUNT You deny it? FIGARO I’ll stay quiet. SUSANNA, COUNTESS Can’t you see the fun has ended and the curtain has descended? When there’s nothing more to say, it’s the end of any play. FIGARO But a play should end in jollity, in theatrical tradition; so you’ll grant us your permission to enjoy our wedding day. Heed my pleading, I implore you, be compassionate I pray.
FIGARO (pretending to examine it) Never seen it.
SUSANNA Heed our pleading, I implore you, be compassionate I pray.
SUSANNA, COUNTESS, COUNT Never seen it?
COUNT Where the hell is Marcellina? What is keeping her away?
(Antonio enters with a pot of trampled geraniums.)
SUSANNA But you gave it to Basilio…
ANTONIO Oh, my lord! My lord!
COUNTESS To deliver…
COUNT What do you want?
COUNT You remember?
ANTONIO Bloody man, bloody nerve!
FIGARO Afraid I don’t.
COUNT, COUNTESS, SUSANNA, FIGARO What is this, what has happened?
SUSANNA The disguise for Cherubino… COUNTESS And the meeting in the garden… COUNT You can tell me. FIGARO Afraid I can’t. COUNT There’s no point in your denying – you may think you’re good at lying, but your face gives you away. FIGARO Then appearances deceive you. COUNTESS, SUSANNA If you lie he won’t believe you; he knows all about the letter, there is nothing you can say.
ANTONIO You chuck all kinds of stuff out the window, some of which I would rather not mention. But it didn’t escape my attention when a man came a-tumbling down on top of my flowers. COUNT From the window? ANTONIO Yes! COUNTESS, SUSANNA, FIGARO Why on earth is this drunkard in here? COUNT Where’s the man who fell into the garden? ANTONIO Ran off, that’s begging your pardon, like a shot and he got clean away. 31
SUSANNA (to Figaro) Cherubino…
FIGARO You always look small when you fall.
FIGARO (to Susanna) I know, ’cos I saw him. (laughing aloud) Ha, ha, ha, ha!
COUNT (to Antonio) What do you think?
ANTONIO What’s so funny? FIGARO We can hardly believe what you say when you’re drunk as a skunk every day. COUNT Tell me slowly, tell me everything: he jumped from the window? ANTONIO From the window. COUNT To the garden? ANTONIO To the garden. COUNTESS, SUSANNA, FIGARO Can’t you tell, can’t you smell, he’s been drinking? COUNT Pray continue. You saw what he looked like?
COUNT Cherubino? COUNTESS, SUSANNA (Cherubino, now we’re done for!) FIGARO (ironically) Cherubino? Yes, that’s brilliant. He rode back from Seville like the clappers; he rode back from Seville, but of course! ANTONIO No, the bloke who fell down wasn’t riding, ’cos I’m sure I’d have noticed the horse. COUNT Enough of this nonsense! COUNTESS, SUSANNA (What on earth can we do?) COUNT (to Figaro) It was you?
ANTONIO No, I didn’t.
FIGARO Yes, it’s true. I was scared…
FIGARO (to Antonio) You’re boring us rigid for hours, for the sake of a few tatty flowers. And I don’t see why I should deny it, that the man in the window was me.
COUNT Scared of what?
COUNT What? You’re joking! COUNTESS, SUSANNA (Now that was ingenious.) FIGARO No I’m not. ANTONIO It was you, then? FIGARO Yes, why not? COUNT It’s hard to believe it. ANTONIO Then explain why you seem to be taller. When you jumped you were nowhere as tall. 32
ANTONIO Well, it looked like the page boy.
FIGARO I was in there – I was waiting for my Susanetta, and I heard these peculiar noises… You were shouting – I thought of that letter…so I jumped full of fear and confusion; when I landed I twisted my knee. (He pretends that he is hurt.) ANTONIO Well then, these are your papers. You dropped them in the garden. COUNT Aha! Give them to me! FIGARO Now he’s cornered me. COUNTESS, SUSANNA (softly, to Figaro) You must be careful and crafty! COUNT Then you’ll know what these papers might be?
FIGARO Just a moment – these papers, let me see… ANTONIO It is probably a list of his creditors. FIGARO No, your bills from the boozer. COUNT (to Figaro) I’m waiting. (to Antonio) That’s enough from you. COUNTESS, SUSANNA, FIGARO Off with you and leave us! ANTONIO I will go, but if ever I catch you… FIGARO Run along, I’m not frightened of you. (Antonio exits.) COUNT Well then? COUNTESS (to Susanna) Oh God! COUNT I’m waiting… FIGARO I’m so stupid, I’d forgotten. It’s just the commission; Cherubino had left it with me. COUNT Why was that, then? FIGARO (confused) It needed… COUNT It needed? COUNTESS (to Susanna) Needed sealing. SUSANNA (to Figaro) Needed sealing. COUNT Do tell me. FIGARO Well, it’s usual… COUNT Now don’t be embarrassed! FIGARO When it’s signed it is usual to seal it. COUNT (Once again he has slipped through my clutches.)
The Countess, Susanna, and Figaro try to get themselves out of a mess with the Count. Photo: Dana Sohm / Lyric Opera Kansas City
SUSANNA, COUNTESS (If my nerve can survive such a nightmare, I will never be frightened again.) FIGARO I will always know how to outwit him, he is storming and stamping in vain. COUNT He will drive me insane. (Marcellina, Basilio and Bartolo enter) MARCELLIA, BASILIO, BARTOLO Noble lord, we come for justice, will you listen to our plea? COUNT (They have come here to work my vengeance. Ah, what a comfort they are to me.) COUNTESS, FIGARO, SUSANNA They have come for revenge; what solution can there be? FIGARO Have you noticed fools and half-wits always come in groups of three? 33
COUNT Hold your tongue and let me hear them; let me listen to your plea. I will act as referee.
COUNTESS Don’t breathe a word to Figaro; leave it to me, I will go in your place.
MARCELLIA This man signed a binding contract joining both of us in marriage. I have come to claim the promise made to me.
COUNT By this evening Basilio should be back.
COUNTESS, SUSANNA, FIGARO Forfeit? Promise? It’s complete and utter madness!
COUNTESS Remember, my peace of mind depends on you.
COUNT Enough! Let me take a look at the contract…Yes, it all seems in order to me.
COUNT What of Susanna? Who knows, maybe she’s already let the cat out of the bag. If she’s betrayed me, I’ll make him marry that old hag.
COUNTESS, SUSANNA, FIGARO Rage and sorrow, driving me to desperation. They have plotted with the devil, bringing sadness to my heart. MARCELLIA, BASILIO, COUNT, BARTOLO What an ending to the story, now we smell the scent of glory. God in Heaven has smiled upon us, bringing gladness to my heart.
ACT THREE A richly decorated hall prepared for a wedding festivity, with two thrones COUNT (walking up and down) This is very perplexing! That anonymous letter, then Susanna locked inside the dressing room, my wife getting flustered, a man who jumps from the window to the garden, and then another, who claims he was the first one. I don’t know what to think. Or could it be that another of my servants has got ideas above his station? Worst of all, the Countess; I doubted her, I insulted her, her self-respect would never allow it. And then my honor, my reputation, where is it now? Gone to damnation! COUNTESS (entering with Susanna, and keeping out of sight) Don’t be afraid! Tell him to wait for you in the garden. COUNT I must know if Cherubino really went to Seville. I’ll send Basilio to find out the truth. SUSANNA My lady, if Figaro… 34
SUSANNA My lady, I dare not!
SUSANNA Marcellina! (approaching the Count) My lord! COUNT What do you want? SUSANNA It’s just… it’s just my lady, she’s got a slight headache and she sent me to ask you for her smelling salts. COUNT Here, take them. SUSANNA I will return them. COUNT Er, no, for maybe you will need them for yourself. SUSANNA What, me? Women of my class don’t suffer from light headedness! COUNT Not even if they lose their fiancé on the day of their wedding? SUSANNA We’ll pay off Marcellina with the dowry which you so kindly promised. COUNT Which I promised? Really? SUSANNA I thought that it was settled. COUNT Yes, if you’d agreed to my little proposition. SUSANNA To please your lordship is my duty and my desire. I have no higher ambition.
COUNT How could you be so cruel, making me suffer so? SUSANNA A girl needs time to ponder, should it be yes or no? COUNT Then you’ll be there this evening?
COUNT (She will be mine!) SUSANNA (You shouldn’t count your chickens before they’re hatched!) FIGARO (entering) Hey, Susanna, how’s it going?
SUSANNA You speak and I obey.
SUSANNA Quiet! We don’t need a lawyer, you’ve won the case already!
COUNT Swear you’ll be there to meet me.
FIGARO What has happened?
SUSANNA How could I stay away?
(Figaro and Susanna exit.)
COUNT You’ll meet me?
COUNT ‘You’ve won the case already.’ What does that mean? They are out to deceive me. I’ll teach them to presume to attack me. They shall be punished; I’ll enjoy passing sentence. What if he’s managed to pay off Marcellina? How could he? He’s got no money. And then Antonio won’t allow his beloved niece Susanna to marry such a nobody as Figaro. It will work in my favor. Must I be made to suffer while servants take their pleasure? He dares to steal my treasure, she should be mine by right. Must passion still torment me, must I stand by and bless her? Must Figaro possess her? Ah, no, I will not spare you, I’ll teach you to betray me! Impudent servant, how dare you! Is this how you repay me? Only the thought of vengeance for all the grief you cause me consoles me and restores me, and fills me with delight.
SUSANNA Yes! COUNT You will not cheat me? SUSANNA No! COUNT With passion I am dying; feel how my heart is aflame. SUSANNA I see no harm in lying, you have to play the game. COUNT But I don’t understand: this morning you were so distant. SUSANNA The page boy could have heard us. COUNT What of Basilio? You can always talk to him. SUSANNA Do you think that we need a Basilio? COUNT You’re right: and you have given your word. But if you disappoint me… What of the Countess? She’s waiting for her smelling salts. SUSANNA You should have known it was a trick, so that we could be alone. COUNT (Going to embrace Susanna) You’re wonderful! SUSANNA (Pulling away) Someone’s coming!
(Count exits, Barbarina and Cherubino enter.) BARBARINA Come on, Cherubino; I’ve got a secret: all of the prettiest girls in the palace are gathering in my house. But, frankly, very few are prettier than you are. CHERUBINO Ah, but the Count thinks I’m in Seville, in the army. If he finds that I’m still here, he’ll go crazy. BARBARINA Oh, don’t be such a spoilsport! If he finds you with a girl, it won’t be the first time. Listen…We’re all getting dressed up for the wedding; you could come in disguise and join us giving flowers to the Countess. 35
(Barbarina and Cherubino exit, the Countess enters.) COUNTESS And Susanna’s not here; I’m so anxious to discover if the Count accepted her proposal. Perhaps our project is a little too rash when I’ve a husband so jealous. But where’s the harm? That I should change my clothes and wear instead Susanna’s while she wears mine, under cover of darkness… Oh, heaven! So these are the miserable depths I am reduced to by a husband’s neglect. What an unpredictable mixture of passions rages in his heart: he is disdainful, he’s jealous – first he woos me, then rejects me, and then betrays me. Ah, he has forced me to conspire with servants. I remember his love so tender, all those sweet lies I longed to hear. Yes, he loved me, but, ah, how quickly so much love can disappear. But my faith was my undoing, and my joy has turned to woe; still I can’t forget his wooing and the love of long ago. Oh, I hope my love will save me from this wilderness of pain, and the tender love he gave me will be made to live again. I remember how he would love me, may his passion live again. (The Countess exits.) CURZIO The case is decided; he must pay her or marry her. That is the verdict. MARCELLIA What a relief! FIGARO What a nightmare. MARCELLIA At last the man I love will be my husband. FIGARO I appeal to your lordship… COUNT The motion is carried, you pay up or get married. Thank you, Don Curzio. CURZIO And thank you to your lordship. FIGARO She’ll never be my wife. BARTOLO Oh, yes, she will.
FIGARO I’m a patrician; I may not be married without my parents’ permission.
The Countess is determined to win the Count's love Photo: Dana Sohm / Lyric Opera Kansas City
COUNT But where are they? Do we know them? FIGARO To be honest, I’m still searching. Give me ten years or so, then I will have found them. BARTOLO You mean you were an infant? FIGARO Not quite, more like a lostling. I was kidnapped. COUNT Kidnapped? MARCELLIA Kidnapped? BARTOLO Can you prove it? CURZIO And prove it legally? FIGARO The gold and jewels, and rich embroidered garments which were found in my cradle and were taken by the gypsies. All this is proof enough of my noble birth. But most important, I have a birth mark upon my arm… MARCELLIA On your right arm?
FIGARO Who told you that?
FIGARO Beloved father! Beloved mother!
MARCELLIA Oh heavens! It’s him then!
SUSANNA (entering) Noble sir, where are you going? Here’s the money that is owing. I have come to pay for Figaro, I have come to set him free.
FIGARO Well yes, it’s me… CURZIO Who? COUNT Who? BARTOLO Who?
COUNT, CURZIO God alone knows what is happening, we had better wait and see.
SUSANNA (turning and seeing Figaro embracing Marcellina) He’s embracing Marcellina! Lying toad! You filthy cheat! You’re a scoundrel!
BARTOLO Kidnapped by gypsies?
FIGARO No, Susanna!
FIGARO Yes, near a castle.
SUSANNA Don’t you touch me!
BARTOLO This is your mother.
FIGARO Listen, my darling…
FIGARO My wet nurse?
SUSANNA I’ll give you darling!
BARTOLO No, your mother.
MARCELLIA (runs to embrace Susanna) Try not to be angry, my own dearest daughter; if I am his mother, I’m your mother too, a mother to him and a mother to you.
COUNT, CURZIO His mother? FIGARO I can’t believe it! MARCELLIA This is your father. (embracing Figaro) Darling boy, let me embrace you. Oh, what joy that we’re together. FIGARO (to Bartolo) Come to me, my dearest father. Can’t you see I’m moved to tears? BARTOLO (embracing Figaro) Son and father reunited after all these lonely years. CURZIO That’s his father? And that’s his mother? Then the announcement cannot proceed. COUNT No, it can’t be… don’t believe it. That’s the last thing that I need. I will leave them here together, this is very odd indeed. MARCELLIA I’m your mother! Kiss your mother! BARTOLO I am your father!
SUSANNA (to Bartolo) His mother? BARTOLO His mother. SUSANNA (to the Count) His mother? COUNT His mother. SUSANNA (to Don Curzio) His mother? CURZIO His mother. SUSANNA (to Marcellina) His mother? MARCELLIA, CURZIO, COUNT, BARTOLO His mother! SUSANNA (to Figaro) Your mother? FIGARO And this is my father who swears it is true. 37
SUSANNA (to Bartolo) His father? BARTOLO His father. SUSANNA (to the Count) His father? COUNT His father. SUSANNA (to Don Curzio) His father? CURZIO His father. SUSANNA (to Marcellina) His father? MARCELLIA, CURZIO, COUNT, BARTOLO His father! SUSANNA (to Figaro) Your father? SUSANNA, MARCELLIA, BARTOLO, FIGARO This wonderful moment, this joyous reunion, it’s almost too much for my poor heart to bear. CURZIO, COUNT Such anger and torment are burning within me, unbearable, this fury of rage and despair.
Photo: Dana Sohm / Lyric Opera Kansas City
(The Count and Curzio retire.)
SUSANNA We’d better tell my lady and my uncle of this unexpected delight. Who could be happier than I am?
MARCELLIA This is our little baby, the sweet memento of a love that has vanished.
FIGARO I am!
BARTOLO That’s in the past, and it’s over and done with: but since I am his father, and since you are his mother, I suppose we should get married to each other. MARCELLIA Today? We’ll have a double wedding. (to Figaro) Take this; it is the contract for the money you owed me; it is your dowry. SUSANNA (throws a purse to the ground) Take this from my lady. BARTOLO (does the same) And one from me. FIGARO Thank you. All contributions gratefully received. 38
Susanna and Figaro make plans to fool the Count.
BARTOLO I am! MARCELLIA I am! SUSANNA, MARCELLIA, FIGARO, BARTOLO And if the Count is furious, well that will serve him right! (Susanna, Marcellina, Figaro and Bartolo exit. Enter the Count and Antonio, with a hat in his hand.) ANTONIO I must warn you, my lord, that Cherubino is still lurking round the castle. If you’re looking for proof, I’ve got his hat. COUNT How could that be, tell me, how? He should be in Seville by now.
ANTONIO Well, in that case Seville is in my house. There he’s dressed as a woman, and there he left all his other clothes. COUNT Treachery! ANTONIO Come with me, and you will see what you will see. (The Count and Antonio exit. The Countess and Susanna enter.) COUNTESS That’s amazing! But how did the Count react? SUSANNA His face was a picture and the varnish was cracked! COUNTESS Careful! If we enrage him, we may not defeat him. Now what have you arranged? Where are you going to meet him? SUSANNA In the garden. COUNTESS Let’s fix a place. Write to him. SUSANNA My lady, I wouldn’t dare. COUNTESS I’ll take the blame. Yes, we’ll disguise it as a poem. Let’s say, a song to the breezes. (Susanna sits down and writes.) SUSANNA …the breezes… COUNTESS (dictating) Would you feel the gentle breezes blowing through the trees tonight. SUSANNA …blowing through the trees tonight. COUNTESS You can feel them in the pinewood. That is all we need to write. SUSANNA, COUNTESS That is all we need to write. SUSANNA (folds the letter) That should do the trick! What’s the best way to seal it? COUNTESS I know, let’s use this pin. It will
do for a seal. I have it. We can write on the back: ‘return seal to sender’. SUSANNA Yes, that’s ideal, that makes it sound mysterious. COUNTESS Someone’s coming: things are getting serious! (Susanna puts the note in her bosom. A group of girls enter including Barbarina, with Cherubino in disguise.) BARBARINA Madam, with your permission, some girls from the village, we’ve come to see you, and hope that you’ll allow us to present to you this humble gift of flowers. COUNTESS Oh thank you, they’re enchanting! COUNTESS (Pointing to Cherubino) But tell me, who’s this? This little girl who’s blushing so shyly? BARBARINA She is one of my cousins; she came to visit and to be here for the wedding. COUNTESS Let us make our charming stranger welcome. Won’t you come here? (She takes Cherubino’s flowers and kisses him on the forehead.) Give me your bouquet. Don’t be afraid; she’s blushing. But Susanna, doesn’t she remind you of someone? SUSANNA The spitting image! ANTONIO (entering with the Count and pulling off Cherubino’s hat, replacing it with his officer’s cap) Hey, what did I tell you! Here’s your missing soldier! COUNTESS Oh heavens! SUSANNA Just our luck! COUNT Well, my lady! COUNTESS My lord, I can assure you that I’m as surprised and as angry as you are. COUNT But this morning? 39
COUNTESS This morning we decided we would dress him up as a girl, just for a game: they’ve simply done the same. COUNT And why are you still here? CHERUBINO My lord… COUNT You will be punished, how dare you disobey me! BARBARINA Dearest master, you remember what you say when you come into my bedroom to hug me and to kiss me: ‘If you love me, Barbarina, I will grant your every wish.’
FIGARO He was galloping, maybe trotting, why should you worry? Come on girls, we must hurry. COUNT And in your pocket was Cherubino’s commission? FIGARO What’s all this? ANTONIO No point in waving, Susanna, he’s not looking. Here’s someone who will prove that Figaro’s a liar. FIGARO Cherubino!
COUNT That’s what I say?
ANTONIO Got it in one!
BARBARINA Oh yes. Well now, I have a wish, to marry Cherubino. But don’t forget, I’ll always be your little pussy cat.
FIGARO What has he told you?
COUNTESS (to the Count) Well fancy, what do you say to that? ANTONIO Bravo, my daughter! She has remembered everything I’ve taught her. COUNT I’m in a trap, the devils, they’ve caught me! The whole world’s been plotting against me. FIGARO (entering) My lord, if you detain these lovely girls any longer, there’ll be no party, no dancing. COUNT You’re dancing? As much as your knee will allow! FIGARO (pretends to straighten his leg, then tries to dance) It’s feeling better now. Let’s join the celebration. COUNT You’re very lucky, those vases were only clay. FIGARO You’ll excuse me, but we must be on our way. ANTONIO But what about the page boy? Was 40
he galloping back from Seville?
COUNT He’s told the truth; he says that he was the one who jumped into the garden. FIGARO What a copycat! Really! Since I jumped from the window, I presume that’s what he did! COUNT What, both of you? FIGARO Maybe so. I’m not one to accuse when I don’t know. Now I can hear them, the musicians. You pretty maidens must take up your positions. You take my arm, Susanna. SUSANNA Here I am. (All exit, except the Count and Countess.) COUNT I will kill them! COUNTESS How can I bear it? COUNT My lady! COUNTESS No time for talking, we must bless the couples; our duty must be done. Remember, one bride has your special protection. Be seated. COUNT By all means. I’ll sit and plan my vengeance.
Barbarina looks for a lost pin in the garden. Photo: Dana Sohm / Lyric Opera Kansas City
(The Count and Countess seat themselves on thrones. Figaro, Susanna, Marcellina, Barbarina, Bartolo, Antonio, hunters with guns, court attendants, and country people enter. Country girls bring the bridal hat with white plumes, two others a white veil, and two others gloves and a nosegay. They are followed by Figaro with Marcellina. Two other girls carry a similar hat for Susanna, followed by Bartolo with Susanna. Bartolo leads Susanna to the Count, and she kneels to receive from him the hat etc. Figaro leads Marcellina to the Countess for the same purpose.) TWO SERVING GIRLS As true-hearted lovers we praise and applaud the pillar of justice, our virtuous lord. Since his abolition of shameful tradition, our pride and our honor are safely restored. (Susanna, kneeling during the duet, plucks the Count’s sleeve, shows him the note, then reaches to her head in a manner visible to the audience, and while the Count pretends to adjust her bonnet, she gives him the note. The Count quickly hides it, and Susanna rises and curtseys. Figaro comes to receive her, and they dance the Fandango. Marcellina rises a little later. Bartolo receives her from the Countess.)
the ground.) Ah! That’s typical of women: they never know the right place to stick a pin in. Ah! I understand now. FIGARO (sees it all and says to Susanna) He is reading a letter which someone handed him discreetly. The silly girl has sealed it with a needle. Look, I think he’s pricked his finger. (The Count reads the note, kisses it, looks for the pin, finds it and sticks it in his lapel.) COUNT This joyous evening, this double celebration must finish, as befits any wedding, full of joy and jubilation. My dearest friends, I invite you to a banquet with music, with fireworks; there’ll be dancing, there’ll be laughter. And may all those dear to my heart live happy ever after. VASSALS As true-hearted lovers we praise and applaud the pillar of justice, our virtuous lord. Since his abolition of shameful tradition, our pride and our honor are safely restored. We all sing the praise of our virtuous lord, and our pride and our honor are safely restored.
COUNT (takes the note and pricks his finger with the pin as he opens it. He throws the pin to 41
ACT FOUR A garden. BARBARINA (looking for something on the floor) I have lost it, I’m so stupid, ah, wherever can it be? I can’t find it; cousin Susanna, and the Count, what will he say? (Figaro and Marcellina enter.) FIGARO Barbarina, what’s happened? BARBARINA Oh my cousin, I’ve lost it. FIGARO Lost what? MARCELLIA Yes, what? BARBARINA The needle that his lordship gave me to give back to Susanna. FIGARO To Susanna? A needle? Little girls are all the same, playing clever little games; bet you know every trick in the book. BARBARINA What’s wrong? How angry you look! FIGARO Can’t you see that I’m joking? Here we are! Here is the needle, the one which the Count gave to you to give back to Susanna; I presume it was used to seal a letter. See, I know all about it. BARBARINA Why do you ask, if you already know? FIGARO I just wanted to see what he told you, when he sent you on his errand. BARBARINA Nothing unusual: ‘Here, Barbarina, take this needle to the lovely Susanna, and tell her that it points to the pinewood.’ FIGARO Ah, yes, the pinewood! BARBARINA That’s right, but that’s not all: ‘Careful that no one sees you’, but you won’t say a word. 42
FIGARO No, you can trust me. BARBARINA (leaving) Bye-bye; nice to have seen you. I’m off to Susanna, and then to Cherubino. FIGARO Mother! MARCELLIA My son! FIGARO I’m dying! MARCELLIA You must learn to be patient. FIGARO No use, it’s over. MARCELLIA Patience, patience, and still more patience. This is serious, so let’s take one thing at a time. For instance, are you sure that you know who’s playing tricks on whom? FIGARO But what about the needle? Oh mother, it’s the same one I saw the Count fingering earlier. MARCELLIA That’s true, that gives you the right to be cautious, to be suspicious; but not in your rage and confusion to jump to a conclusion. FIGARO Oh, I’ll be watching: I know where they are meeting, so I’ll know where to hide! MARCELLIA Where are you going, my son? FIGARO My revenge for all husbands has begun. (Marcellina exits) FIGARO Just be patient and stay in our positions, and when I whistle, come rushing out together. Everything’s ready; the hour of reckoning is at hand. There’s someone coming… Susanna? No one there. Darkness surrounds me… and I have begun to understand how painful it is to be a husband. How shameless to betray me on the day of our wedding. He was reading that letter and I was watching, little knowing I was laughing at myself. Oh, Susanna, Susanna what a blow you have dealt me! With all your girlish glances and your innocent laughter… who would not
have believed you? Why, it’s mad to trust women, they’ll all deceive you. You foolish slaves of Cupid, how can you be so stupid? Just look at what these women are, you won’t believe your eyes. Slavishly we adore them, and put ourselves before them. We’re worshipping the devil in disguise. These tigresses, pawing us and clawing us so sweetly; these comets that shine on us and blind us completely; these sirens that sing to us, these leeches that cling to us, these roses that prick us, these vixens that trick us, these daughters of Circe who show us no mercy, the foxes that cheat us, the spiders that eat us, these witches, pretending to love us, you know it is true. I see that you know what I’m saying, I see that it’s happened to you. You foolish slaves of Cupid, how can you be so stupid? Just see them as they really are: the devil in disguise. (Figaro exits. Enter the Countess and Susanna, disguised, and Marcellina.) SUSANNA My lady, Marcellina says Figaro will be here. MARCELLIA He’s here already: you’d better keep your voice down. SUSANNA One lover’s listening, the other’s on his way to seduce me. The scene is set. MARCELLIA (leaving) I’ll hide myself in here. SUSANNA My lady, you are trembling. Are you too cold here? COUNTESS The night is rather chilly. I’ll go inside. FIGARO (Now comes the climax of the drama.) SUSANNA I’d prefer to stay here, if your ladyship will allow it; I want to take the air a while, to cool down. FIGARO Cool down! Yes, you need to! COUNTESS (hides herself) Stay, and take your time then.
Figaro and Barbarina bump into each other in the garden. Photo: Dana Sohm / Lyric Opera Kansas City
(The Countess exits.) SUSANNA (He doesn’t know I know, which is doubly delicious. Now I’ll teach him to be so damn suspicious!) At last, the moment I’ve longed for, when I lose myself completely in the arms of my beloved. Yes, I have values, but I will keep them hidden. Are not pleasures much sweeter when forbidden? This enchanted place, the silken touch of evening, mirror my secret desire, this fire that burns inside me. See how the moon has shrouded its light to hide me. Come quickly my beloved, I implore you. All of my being is waiting, aching for you. Do you not hear the voice of nature calling? Share my secret delight as night is falling. Caressing breezes make the treetops shiver. Night is whispering softly to the river. A breathless hush descends on all creation; nature trembles in rapt anticipation. Come, my beloved, 43
while all the world sleeps. Come, beloved, and I will crown your head with roses. FIGARO Treachery! Now I can see how she has deceived me! Am I awake, or dreaming? (The Countess enters, followed by Cherubino, who is singing.) COUNTESS (disguised as Susanna) Cherubino! CHERUBINO There’s someone there; I’ll go in and join Barbarina. Oh God, it’s a woman! COUNTESS This is impossible! CHERUBINO That’s funny! I know it’s dark, but that cloak – I could swear it was Susanna’s. COUNTESS If my husband appears, shame and dishonor! CHERUBINO I’ll approach her, oh so softly, seize the moment while I may. COUNTESS Ah, my husband, if he saw us, there’d be hell, yes, hell to pay. CHERUBINO (to the Countess) Susannetta! Doesn’t answer, she pretends she hasn’t seen me. Very well, then! That’s a game that two can play. (He takes her hand and caresses it.) COUNTESS (tries to free herself, disguising her voice) Don’t you touch me! Little rascal, will you get away from here? CHERUBINO So flighty, high and mighty, but I know why you are here. COUNT (entering) Here she is, my dear Susanna. SUSANNA, FIGARO Here’s the hawk to catch the sparrow. CHERUBINO Why this cold and haughty manner? COUNTESS I will scream if you don’t leave me! 44
Susanna pretends to sing her love for the Count as Figaro looks on. Photo: Dana Sohm / Lyric Opera Kansas City
CHERUBINO First you’ll kiss me, and then I’ll leave you. COUNTESS What an utter scandal this is! SUSANNA, COUNT, FIGARO Ah, this chills me to the bone, for another man is here, and it sounds like Cherubino. CHERUBINO Are you saving up your kisses so the Count can have his share? Don’t be so prudish, it doesn’t suit you. Don’t you remember I was there behind the chair? COUNTESS You are shameless! SUSANNA, COUNT, FIGARO He is shameless!
SUSANNA, COUNTESS, COUNT, FIGARO Heavens, how can we get rid of him, he will spoil the whole affair.
COUNTESS It is Susanna’s duty to yield to your request.
CHERUBINO Let me kiss you.
SUSANNA, COUNT, FIGARO Although the plan is working, we’ve yet to see the best.
COUNTESS, CHERUBINO Oh heavens, his lordship!
COUNTESS (to the Count) My lord, I see a light, I fear that people may be near.
COUNT Come on my Aphrodite, let us hide ourselves in here.
FIGARO I must see what’s happening here. COUNT I will teach you better manners with a clip around the ear. SUSANNA, COUNTESS He deserved that, and this will teach him to be curious, he was rash to interfere. COUNT (to the Countess) Now we’re alone together, come closer, my beloved. COUNTESS I swear to do whatever you desire, my lord. FIGARO I have always loved and trusted her and this is my reward! COUNT Here is my hand, my darling. COUNTESS And here is mine. COUNT My angel! FIGARO ‘My angel!’ COUNT Your skin so smooth and tender, your hand so slight and slender, they thrill my heart with ecstasy, fill me with wild desire! SUSANNA, COUNTESS, FIGARO This mad infatuation has robbed him of his reason, his senses are on fire and he is blinded by desire. COUNT Darling, do not be cruel, accept this little jewel. (He gives the Countess a ring.) See how it burns and glows like my heart within my breast.
SUSANNA, FIGARO Observe, you foolish husbands, and shed a silent tear. COUNTESS It’s very dark inside here. COUNT We didn't come out here to read. SUSANNA, COUNTESS The plot is working perfectly, exactly what we planned. FIGARO She’s following him quite willingly, I begin to understand. COUNT (Hearing noise) Who’s there? FIGARO Why should you care? COUNTESS That’s Figaro! I’ll hide. (Goes into the right pavilion) COUNT I’ll follow shortly, you go inside. (Disappears among the bushes) SUSANNA (disguised as the Countess) Hey, Figaro, be quiet! FIGARO The Countess makes her entrance and times it to perfection. A crime requires detection, your husband and my Susanna, the thief and his accomplice, the villain and the cheat. SUSANNA (forgetting to change her voice) Be quiet, or they’ll hear you. I’ll stay till I have caught them, and vengeance will be sweet. FIGARO (Susanna!) You want vengeance? 45
SUSANNA I’ll let you feel this! (striking him repeatedly) FIGARO Don’t hit me! SUSANNA You want it, then take it, and here’s another! I’ll teach you if this is what you wanted, I’ll gladly give you this! FIGARO Be gentle I beseech you. These blows are bliss and ecstasy as sweet as any kiss! SUSANNA Your shameless infidelity! I’ll punish you for this!
Figaro realizes Susanna is diguised as the Countess. Photo: Dana Sohm / Lyric Opera Kansas City
SUSANNA Yes! FIGARO Countess, let’s find revenge together. SUSANNA (He thinks that I’m deceiving him, and I will play along.) FIGARO (She wants to set a trap for me, and I will play along.) Ah, if Madama wants to… SUSANNA Come on, what are you saying? Come on, no more delaying. FIGARO Humbly I kneel before you, to worship and adore you. Remember he betrayed you in this accursed place.
FIGARO (kneels) I surrender, my love, for your voice was so loving and tender that I knew all along it was you. SUSANNA (surprised) Did you really? FIGARO How could I mistake it? SUSANNA, FIGARO I surrender, my love, to a love that is tender and true! COUNT (entering) I have lost her, I must have gone past her. SUSANNA, FIGARO Heaven help us, that sounds like the master. COUNT (turns towards the pavilion in which the Countess has hidden, and opens it) Hey, Susanna! Where are you? Do you hear me?
SUSANNA (Oh, how I’d love to punish him!…)
SUSANNA Good, she’s managed to fool him completely.
FIGARO (Her anger grows apace!)
SUSANNA (I have the strong desire to strike him, to strike his stupid face!) (disguising her voice slightly) What passion makes you woo me?
SUSANNA The Countess!
FIGARO The anger coursing through me! Let’s waste no time, my darling, give me your hand, my lady, and let me feel…
FIGARO The Countess?
SUSANNA, FIGARO Now the play will be rounded off nicely if we play on his innermost fears. FIGARO (falls at Susanna’s feet) Ah, my lady, be mine I implore you. COUNT It’s my wife! I have come without my weapon! FIGARO I am bursting with longing before you! SUSANNA I am yours, for you know I adore you. COUNT Ah, the traitors!
BASILIO, CURZIO, ANTONIO, BARTOLO The mistress! COUNT She’s everyone’s mistress; she stands on display for all the world to see. SUSANNA (kneels before the Count, holding her handkerchief before her face) Forgive me, forgive me! COUNT No, don’t even ask it! FIGARO Forgive her, forgive her! COUNT No, no forgiveness!
SUSANNA, FIGARO We’ll be happy hereafter, love and laughter will dry all our tears.
SUSANNA, CHERUBINO, BARBARINA, BASILIO, CURZIO, FIGARO, BARTOLO, ANTONIO Forgive her!
COUNT Quickly, bring your weapons!
COUNTESS (comes out of the pavilion and is about to kneel when the Count prevents her) I beg your forgiveness for them, not for me.
FIGARO (pretending great fear) Ah, my master! COUNT Quickly, someone help me! BASILIO, CURZIO, ANTONIO, BARTOLO (entering) What has happened? COUNT Now I will show you how he’s cheated and betrayed me, just you wait and you will see! (Susanna enters disguised as the Countess), followed by Cherubino, Barbarina and Marcellina.) COUNT No point in resisting, you treacherous woman, so much for insisting you’re faithful to me! (The Count reaches into the left pavilion and pulls out a resisting Cherubino, then Barbarina, Marcellina and Susanna.) The page boy! ANTONIO My daughter!
BASILIO, CURZIO, COUNT, ANTONIO, BARTOLO Oh this is delusion and utter confusion; I do not believe what I see. COUNT (supplicating) My lady, forgive me! COUNTESS I’m far more forgiving and so I say yes. ALL The voice of forgiveness shall end all distress. What a day of grief and sadness; what a day of mirth and madness; love has turned it into gladness, love alone has won the day. Lovers who take pleasure in dancing and laughter will be happy ever after. Do you hear the happy music playing for (their/our) wedding day? Yes, it is (their/our) wedding day. We must hurry, for it is their/our wedding day.
FIGARO My mother!
M E E T T H E A R T I STS : L AY L A C L A I R E C O U N T E S S A L M A V I V A
Did you grow up in a musical/artsy family?
My mother was a painter and sculptor and my dad was a rock drummer. There was always music playing in our house.
For someone that is about to see an opera for the first time, what would you advise? Come with an open mind and enjoy! Also, don't worry about operas being in another language, there are supertitles!
How would you describe your role in The Marriage of Figaro? Can you relate to this character?
The Countess has been deeply hurt and neglected by her cheating husband, the Count. She wants to be loved and respected, which we can all relate to. But she is also strong and gracious and in the end shows forgiveness.
What is your favorite scene in The Marriage of Figaro? Why? The Act 2 finale is really fun, with lots of mischief and twists. The music is also exquisite.
How did you prepare for this role?
I first learned, coached, and performed the Countess while a student at Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia almost 10 years ago!
What are you most looking forward to about joining the Opera Philadelphia stage?
The cast and music staff ! Many of us have worked together in the past and are old friends, and my partner John is my Count!
LUCY SCHAUFFER MARCELLINA
How did you get into the world of opera?
I fell into it as I grew up in musical theater. My first job at the age of 16 was dancing four shows a day seven days a week at an amusement park. But, I always had the voice that stuck out all the time. I fell into opera also by the fact that I got a scholarship to Northwestern University. I had looked to join the theater department while I was there but, at the time, they didn't have a combined music theater degree like they do now. I was studying classically and it was sort of what happened next that I was into opera. In the end, the best thing I learned from falling into opera was that I could still do other things as well. I always was a part of a temporary music ensemble, I always sang in a jazz ensemble and in musicals. During my senior year at Northwestern, I sang Sarah Brown in Guys & Dolls and Rosina in The Barber of Seville. It was always about keeping the balance going so I could first and foremost just keep performing. How is this production of The Marriage of Figaro different from productions you have been in the past? Well I have seen costumes and pictures and it looks as if it's going to be a bit more traditional and more set in the time when it was originally written. That doesn't mean that director, Stephen Lawless, is going to do the characterization in the period. He may update it. From a physical point of view, it's very different because the last Figaro I did was set in 1950's Spain. The look was completely different. I was quite the modern Marcellina. Dramatically, I don't know what Stephen will have in store. You can never underestimate Mr. Lawless. I've worked with him before and he's a longtime friend. We'll just have to wait and see what he has up his sleeve.
Do you have any rituals when practicing or performing?
I am pretty ritualistic. I'll eat at a certain time. I'll leave for the theater at a certain time. I absolutely stick to that because it becomes one less thing to think about. As far as preparation goes I am a prep queen. I love doing a lot of prep. I take a lot of time to look at the score for images and ideas. Side note: This is going to be different for me as my husband will be singing Basilio and it's the first time we've ever done an opera together in our 29 years of marriage. We may have worked for the same company in the same year but we've never shared the same stage. It may be different because what if he wants to eat earlier and go to the theater later. PAT R I C K C A R F IZ ZI BA RTO LO
What is the most rewarding aspect of your job? Getting to do what you love for a living. It's one of the most rewarding things I could have ever imagined. In addition, I love being a story-teller. Opera is one of the great storytelling art forms. Has anything funny ever happened to you on stage?
So many things have happened. Actually, something just happened a few weeks ago on stage in New York at the Metropolitan Opera. We have a sword fight in La boheme and we use these fire pokers to fight and mine literally just broke off at the handle. There was a first strike and a second strike but on the third strike I was left with this tiny brass handle and then about a foot and a half of the rest of the fire poker went flying across the stage. In addition, probably one of the most memorable moments was when I was in a production years ago and the stage caught on
fire. It's every stage manager's nightmare and every singer's absolute fear. Sometimes the lights get too hot and overheat. We were in performance and one of the gels which alters the color of the light caught on fire and fell on stage. Part of the set then burst into flames and within second the fire curtain came in. My colleague actually picked me up under his arm and carried me to safety. That was definitely one of those wild and crazy moments that I will never forget.
In the end, we do live theatre and it is always an adventure and there are always unexpected things that will happen. If you were not an opera singer what would you be?
Part of the luxury of traveling for a living is that I get to spend a lot of time thinking. I get a lot of time to study, a lot of time to work, and a lot of time to think. There are several things that I would do and a few of them I may very well do later in life. First, I would like to be a yoga instructor. I am a huge fan of yoga because it kind of keeps me sane. When I am traveling around I get to practice on my own. The other thing I would do that is much closer to home is be a teacher...a music teacher, or a voice teacher. I would love to have the ability to help young people learn how to sing and learn how to play on the stage. Finally, the third and most random thing I would love to be able to do is be a park ranger. After many years of traveling, I've found that there are some really wonderful things about being in isolation. It would be kind of cool to be out in nature all of the time. Those would be my three choices.
P LOT T H E AC T I O N of The Marriage of Figaro Use the following plot map to track the story of The Marriage of Figaro. You may find this to be more difficult than you thought. Can you remember all of the plot twists?
L FA NG T AC
CHARACTER ANALYSIS Pyramid Using the character descriptions from The Marriage of Figaro teacher guide, fill out this graphic organizer for one of the opera’s characters, either individually or in groups. After filling out the form, take 10 minutes to discuss the characters and how they would interact.
PH YSICA L A PPE A R A NCE
CH A R AC T ER’ S ROL E
C H A R AC T ER’ S PROBL E M S/C H A L L E NGE S
M AJOR ACCOM PLISH M E N T S
AC T I N G T H E STO RY U s i n g Ta b l e a u s After reading The Marriage of Figaro, choose one of your favorite scenes and act it out with a few of your classmates. W H AT I S A TA BL E AU ?
In a tableau, participants make still images with their bodies to represent a scene. A tableau can be used to quickly establish a scene that involves a large number of characters.
A DDITIONA L IDE A S
The tableau doesn’t just have to be a mute frozen image. Students can be told in advance that they will be taped during the presentation, and that they will need to provide a clue as to who or what they represent in the tableau. Alternately, the teacher or a student could act as a reporter and conduct short interviews with individuals acting in the tableau. The teacher might choose to facilitate a discussion with the audience by highlighting certain tableau details through questioning. For example, you could ask, “Why might this character be smiling?” or “What do you think this character is thinking?”
The cast of The Barber of Seville strikes a pose in this example of a tableau. Photo: Kelly & Massa Photography, 2014
HOW DO YOU M A K E A TA BL E AU ?
To begin, give each group an excerpt from the synopsis (like one scene), and ask the groups to create a frozen image that somehow captures the essence of what is going on in the scene. Students must then collaborate to decide how to represent the scene in the form of a tableau. No matter what they do, students should carefully craft their gestures, facial expressions, and physical poses.
Give groups enough time to plan and rehearse and, when they are ready, have students present their scenes while the rest of the class discusses what they think is going on in the tableau. Additionally, one of the members of the group can read the scene while the other members act it out in tableau. Finally, have the class discuss the choices that went into making that particular tableau.
Tableaux can also be a series of frozen images that, together, tell a story with a beginning, middle, and end. Or, the tableau might be more effective with the music from the opera playing. Groups also might want to use slow motion to transition from one tableau to the next. After the students create the tableau, encourage them to describe how they think music could enhance the scene that they created. Then ask students to use sounds to describe the music and back up their ideas with evidence. For a more detailed lesson plan from Opera America, visit tinyurl.com/OATableaus. For a video to reference of how to create a tableau using an opera scene, visit tinyurl.com/OperaTableaus. Sources cited: learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/07/scenes-in-tableaudrama-strategies-to-use-with-any-days-times-part-2/?_r=0 dramaresource.com/tableaux/
E N T R AV E S T I Tr o u s e r R ol e s Pa s t a n d P r e s e n t By Elizabeth McAnally
Did you know that it's been a long-standing practice in opera for male characters to be performed by a female singer? When the vocal timbre (tone quality) of the countertenor fell out of favor with audiences after the 17th century, the roles of boys or young men were often performed by women with a lower range and broader timbre. Today these voices are called mezzo-sopranos.
In Italian, cross-gender operatic portrayal is called en travesti. In English, these roles are referred to as trouser roles, pants roles, or breeches roles, to describe the costume of the female singer dressed as a male character. Mozart wrote trouser roles in several of his operas, and many other composers did so as well, such as Handel, Rossini, and Gluck. Important trouser roles include Hansel in Hansel and Gretel, and the title role of Tancredi, performed earlier this season by Opera Philadelphia. Can you match the trouser role with the composer? TROUSER ROLE
Orfeo, from Orfeo ed Euridice
Hansel, from Hansel and Gretel
Tancredi, from Tancredi
George Frideric Handel
Julius Ceasar, from Giulio Cesare Stefano, from Romeo and Juliet
Gioachino Rossini Christoph Willibald Gluck
Although trouser roles may seem to be an obscure tradition from centuries-old operas, we do not need to look very far to find examples of cross-gender acting in modern theater and cinema. The purpose of writing these roles can vary widely; some are written for comedic purposes, others are intended to be dramatic, and still others are simply traditionally cast in this fashion. Can you match these popular characters with their actor or voice actor? BART SIMPSON The Simpsons
EDNA TURNBLAD Hairspray
ROZ Monsters Inc.
PETER PAN Peter Pan (musical)
Allison Williams - Bob Peterson - John Travolta - Nancy Cartwright 53
W H AT ' S T H E S C O R E ? A per former's view By Elizabeth McAnally
Have you ever wondered what is on the music stand of a conductor or orchestra member during a performance? Have you noticed a small book in front of the musicians, resting beneath the glow of a small lamp? Musicians often read a score while performing; the score contains a variety of symbols that represent what, how, and when to play. There are many different types of scores. In opera, a full score is used by the conductor and includes all instrumental and vocal parts. An instrumental score only includes the part of a single instrument (violin, trumpet, clarinet, etc.). A vocal score includes all vocal lines and a piano line. This piano line summarizes all of the orchestral parts from the full score. Take a look at the different scores for Figaro's aria "Non piĂš andrai" from The Marriage of Figaro.
VOC A L SCO RE The scores you see above contain many symbols representing both sound (notes) and silence (rests). Notes are placed around a staff of five lines and four spaces, to show which pitches to perform. Different types of notes are used to signify how long a pitch should be played. Rests tell musicians when and for how long to be silent.
In addition to notes and rests, scores also contain words, abbreviations, and other symbols that provide expressive information. For example, each of the scores above include the word "vivace" which, when translated from Italian, means "lively" and instructs the musician to play at a rather brisk speed.
I N S T RUM E N TA L S CO R E (VIOLIN) LISTEN to a recording of Figaro's aria "Non piĂš andrai" and follow along with the score.What other symbols do you notice in the score? What do you think they mean? tinyurl.com/nonpiuandrai
THE OVERTURE of The Marriage of Figaro By Elizabeth McAnally
An overture is an instrumental piece of music played at the very beginning of an opera. Overtures help to prepare the audience by setting the scene and establishing a mood. Many overtures, such as Mozart's overture to The Marriage of Figaro, are frequently performed as concert pieces. Listen to the overture for yourself and record what you hear! Think about how you would describe this overture to a friend. After listening to the overture, what can you predict about the plot of this opera?
DY N A M I C S Circle the LOUDEST dynamic you hear
Circle the SOFTEST dynamic you hear
TEXTURE TEMPO What is the speed of the over ture?
P R E S TO - Ve r y F a s t M O D E R A TO - M o d e r a t e L E N TO - Ve r y S l o w
How would you describe the texture?
(many instruments and musical ideas)
THIN (few instruments and musical ideas)
IM AGINE What image comes to mind when you hear this music? Draw it in the space b e l o w.
Place an next to the words that DON'T match the music.
J O LLY CA LM JUMPY ANGRY SORROWFUL
S LEEPY E X C I TE D BUSY P EA C EFU L
WRITING A REVIEW of the Opera A review is an opinionated piece of writing. It is an opportunity for someone to communicate their likes and dislikes about a particular event. A good theater review takes into consideration all of things that happened on stage. Before writing a review, it is good to organize one's thoughts. Use the following template to review The Marriage of Figaro. JOIN OUR BLOG! - When you finish writing your review, consider submitting it online! Opera Philadelphia would love to hear your thoughts about the production. Just remember to include your name, school, and grade. Visit: operaphillysol.blogspot.com. PL O T & CH A R AC T ER S
Did the performance tell the story dramatically, and were you engaged in the plot? Summarize the main characters and conflict briefly in this opening paragraph.
M USIC & VOICES
Did the music carry the characters and action forward? Were there particular voices, arias or duets that added to your involvement in the conflict?
S TAGI NG
How did the sets, costumes, and staging enhance or undermine the plot?
Make note of the time and location where the opera takes place. Is it the same setting the composer imagined, or has it been updated? If it has been updated, does the change add to the power of the piece, or is it a distraction?
Y O U R O P I N I O N (After the performance) Would you recommend the performance to your friends or family? Explain why or why not.
MAKE A Synopsis A synopsis is a concise summary or brief statement of events. In writing a synopsis, the main points or ideas are written and the supporting details are left out. To do this successfully, we judge which facts or details are the most important. Often you are asked after a day of school, “How was your day?” or “What did you learn today?” You know how to answer these questions because you know what the important things you did were. 1. B efore or after you see the opera, in a small group, examine the main characters of The Marriage of Figaro. How did the actions of the characters move the plot forward? What were the most important things that happened? 2. M ake a word bank of the main characters. List important adjectives that describe their character traits. Then list the verbs or action words which highlight their actions.
CH A R AC T ER S
DESCR IP TI V E A DJECTIV ES
AC T IONS
Now write a brief account of Act I of the opera. See which member of your group wrote the most comprehensive synopsis.
Use additional paper if needed.
2 016 – 2 017 Season Subscriptions Review the charts of Opera Philadelphia’s performance season and prices. Then answer the questions below.
2 016 – 2 017 S E A S O N S E R I E S C H A R T PRODUC T ION
C U RTA I N T I M E S
SERIES NA ME
TA NCR E DI
T H E M A R R I AGE OF F IGA RO
2 016 – 2 017 S E A S O N S U B S C R I P T IO N PR I C E C H A R T SE AT I NG L O C AT ION
S I N G L E -T I C K E T P R I C E S
Pa rquet Ba la nce/Center Pa rquet Ci rcle/Center Ba lcony Ci rcle/ Ba lcony L o g e / P r e m iu m Fa m i l y C i r c le
Side Pa rquet Circle/Side Ba lcony C i r c le / Fr ont Fa m i l y C i r c le
P r o s c e n iu m B o x / Fa m i l y C i r c le / Side Balcony Circle/Premium A mphitheatre
Center A mphitheatre
Pa rquet Box / Ba lcony Box Pa rquet Premium
S id e Fa m i l y C i r c le / Side A mphitheatre
SU BSCR IP TION PR ICES
1. Tancredi will be performed on what day, date, and time in the Wednesday Series? 2. If a new subscriber buys 4 subscriptions for the Weekday Series in the Balcony Loge, what does he/ she pay? 3. Which performance occurs closest to Valentine’s Day? 4. Which series have the same curtain time? 5. O n Sundays, what is the cost of the subscription for a parquet or balcony box and of an individual ticket? 6. H ow much more does a person pay when buying single tickets to all the operas in the Parquet Floor section on Fridays than the person who buys a subscription in the parquet? What is the percentage of savings of a parquet subscription over four individual tickets?
I N V E ST I N Grand Opera Many adults have trouble understanding charts and graphs, which are used in daily life. Study the information and then see if you can answer the questions below. We want you to join our family of donors. In fact, we need you, as only 20% of our costs are met through ticket sales. Your contribution is critical to our success!
DONOR BENEFITS NAME
Pa t r o n Program
Genera l D i r e c t o r ’s Council
GIF T LEV EL
$25,000+ Chairman’s Council
1. Save up to 10% on single ticket and event purchases 2. Between the Notes—a lecture series that delves into each production of the season given by scholarly guest speakers 3. Discover Opera---an in depth lecture series that explores broad aspects of the art form 4. E merging Artist Recital & Member Appreciation Reception 5. Mailed copy of the Annual Report 6. Invitation for two to attend a dress rehearsal 7. General Director's Backstage Tour of the Academy of Music 8. Access to the VIP area at Opera on the Mall, the annual HD broadcast 9. V IP Patron Service—personalized concierge service with dedicated phone line for priority in ticketing, seating, and exchange requests 10. Champagne Intermission Receptions in the Academy Ballroom and at the Kimmel Center, along with two guest passes per season 11. Patron Travel Program—join the Opera on group destination opera trips
12. VIP Coat check and private restrooms at performances 13. M eet the Artists—an intimate reception with the cast of a current production 14. D irector’s Salon—an event featuring a presentation from the creative team of a current production 15. Invitation to one pre-performance dinner or brunch 16. O pening Night Cast Party—celebrate with the cast after each opening night of the season 17. General Director’s Council Dinner with principal artists 18. Post-performance meet-and-greets with the cast 19. O pportunity to underwrite an Emerging Artist, community initiative, or event 20. Invitation to the Annual Chairman’s Opening Night Dinner 21. E xclusive dinners and events throughout the season with celebrity artists, hosted in private homes 22. B runch or Dinner with the General Director and/or Opera leadership before underwritten performances
1. How many benefits would you receive if you donated $10,000? What is your gift level? 2. List the benefits of someone who is at the Gold Patron gift level. 3. Which giving level is the first to receive VIP Patron Service? 4. At which giving levels would you get a private backstage tour for you and your guests?
GLOSSARY A B O L I S H — [ u h - B O L - i s h ] V.
to do away with; put an end to
AC C O M P L I C E — [u h - KOM - p l i s] N .
wrong doing A N T I C I PAT I O N APHRODITE
— [ a n - t i s - u h - P E Y - s h u n ] N . realization in advance; expectation or hope
— [ a f - r u h - D A H Y - t e e ] N . the ancient Greek goddess of love and beauty — [ k u h - P R E E - s h u h s ] A D J . subject to, led by, or indicative of a sudden, odd notion or unpredictable change
— [ k a - s u h - N O - v u h ] N . a man who charms or attempts to charm women.
C A S A N OVA
— [ k o n - t r u h - D I K T ] V. to assert the opposite of; deny directly
— [ K R E D - i - t e r ] N . a person or firm to whom money is due (opposed to debtor)
— [ K U H N - i n g ] N . skill employed in a shrewd or sly manner, as in deceiving
— [ d i h - M Y O O R ] A D J . characterized by shyness and modesty; reserved
— [ d i h - S E N D S ] V. to go or pass from a higher to a lower place
DESCENDS DE TAI N
— [ d i h - T E Y N ] V. to keep from proceeding; keep waiting; delay — [ d i h - S K R E E T - l y ] A D V. careful in one's actions or speech
D I S C R E E T LY DISHEVELED DOWRY
— [ d i h - S H E V - u h l d ] A D J . hanging loosely or in disorder
— [ D O U - r e e ] N . the money or goods that a wife brings to her husband at marriage
FA N DA N GO
— [ f a n - D A N G - g o h ] N . a lively Spanish or Spanish-American dance in triple time, performed by a man and woman playing castanets
— [ F A W R - f i t ] N . a fine; penalty; something to which the right is lost, as for commission of a crime or misdeed, neglect of duty, or violation of a contract.
— [ G A L - u h n t ] A D J . brave, spirited, noble-minded, or chivalrous.
GALL ANT HAUGHT Y
— [ H A W - t e e ] A D J . disdainfully proud; snobbish; scornfully arrogant; supercilious
— [ p r u h - V O H K ] V. to anger, enrage, exasperate
PROXIMIT Y RASH
— [ i n - D U H L - j u h n s ] N . the act or practice of indulging; gratification of desire
— [ k e e n ] A D J . finely sharpened, as an edge; so shaped as to cut or pierce substances readily; sharp, piercing, or biting
— [ p r o k - s i m - i - T E E ] N . nearness in place, time, order, occurrence, or relation
— [ r a s h ] A D J . acting or tending to act too hastily or without due consideration
a person who knowingly helps another in a crime or
— [ R E E L - i n g ] A D J . being awestruck, shocked to comprehend anything
— [ r i - L E N T ] V. to soften in feeling, temper, or determination; become more mild, compassionate, or forgiving; to become less severe; slacken
THE SCHOOL DISTRICT OF PHILADELPHIA SCHOOL REFORM COMMISSION Marjorie Neff, Chair
William J. Green, member Farah Jimenez, member
Christopher McGinley, member
William R. Hite, Jr., Ed.D Superintendent of Schools
Sounds of Learning™ was established by a
generous grant from The Annenberg Foundation. Dedicated funding for the Sounds of Learning™ program has been provided by:
THE WILLIAM PENN FOUNDATION WALLY LOEB Wells Fargo Hamilton Family Foundation Universal Health Services
OPERA PHILADELPHIA David B. Devan General Director & President
Corrado Rovaris Jack Mulroney Music Director
Michael Bolton Vice President, Community Initiatives
Deluxe Corporation Foundation Eugene Garfield Foundation The Hirsig Family Fund of the Philadelphia Foundation
Written and produced by: Opera Philadelphia Community Initiatives Department © 2017 1420 Locust Street, Suite 210 Philadelphia, PA, 19102 Tel: 215.893.5927 Fax: 215.893.7801 operaphila.org/learn Michael Bolton Vice President, Community Initiatives firstname.lastname@example.org Steven Humes Education Manager email@example.com Veronica Chapman-Smith Community Programs Assistant firstname.lastname@example.org Katie Kelley Graphic Designer email@example.com
Morgan Stanley Foundation
Special thanks to:
Frank Machos Director of Music Education, School District of Philadelphia
The McLean Contributionship Louis N. Cassett Foundation
Opera Philadelphia is supported by major grants from The William Penn Foundation, the Wyncote Foundation, and The Pew Charitable Trusts. Additional support is provided by the Independence Foundation and the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation. Opera Philadelphia receives state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Support provided in part by the Philadelphia Cultural Fund.
The Office of Strategic Partnerships School District of Philadelphia Deborah Bambino Dr. Dan Darigan Karl Janowitz Joann Neufeld Elizabeth McAnally Curriculum Consultants Dr. Bettie Joyner Kleckley Dr. Nanci Ritter Program Evaluators Maureen Lynch Operations Manager, Academy of Music Frank Flood Assistant Operations Manager, Academy of Music Cornell Wood Head Usher, Academy of Music Academy of Music Ushers