To the Burgtheater audience watching Da Ponte and Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro in the spring of 1786, the spectacle of Susanna fending off the unwelcome advances of the Count and finally achieving happiness with Figaro would have seemed quite familiar, notwithstanding the many and well-advertised novelties of the work.1 Many, if not most, audience members would have known Le mariage de Figaro, the play by Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais on which the opera is based, as by the end of 1785 it had been published in German translation and was in any case something of a cause célèbre.2 The audience could also have recognized Figaro himself and the Count and Countess Almaviva from Petrosellini and Paisiello's Il barbiere di Siviglia, a setting of the first play in Beaumarchais's trilogy, which had enjoyed its thirty-eighth performance at the Burgtheater only three months before the premiere of Figaro.3 Regulars at the Burgtheater would also have recognized the more general theme of a virtuous lowerclass woman importuned by a nobleman and eventually allowed to return to her proper lover. This theme was quite frequently played out on the Burgtheater stage; in May 1786 its most recent instantiations had been Bertati and Bianchi's La villanella rapita, for which Mozart wrote two insertion ensembles,4 and Sarti's Fra i due litiganti, played only five days before Figaro. Three months after the premiere of Figaro, but before it had finished its first run,5 the importuning-nobleman theme was replayed in Bertati and Sarti's I finti eredi, whose Viennese version included an inserted aria by Francesco Piticchio6 in which the lower-class lover, Pierotto, ex____________________
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: The Culture of Opera Buffa in Mozart's Vienna:A Poetics of Entertainment. Contributors: Mary Hunter - Author. Publisher: Princeton University Press. Place of publication: Princeton, NJ. Publication year: 1999. Page number: 3.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.