Mozart’s “The Marriage Of Figaro” is essentially a classical Rom-Com!

Who amongst us hasn’t enjoyed a good tear-jerker from time to time- be it a book, a rom-com, or an incessantly far flung soap-opera? The idea of watching a drama unfold, invoking the senses with fear and pity, valour and prudence; being able to walk in the same shoes and feel the resonance of emotion and experience in your own lives is hardly what one would call a modern phenomenon. In fact, neither is the censorship of such a necessarily modern one! From as far back as the ancient worlds and Greek and Roman tragedies, philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle wrote about the power of the performing arts. Plato, in an effort to censor art claimed that certain forms of music were rightly associated with certain states of mind (who can argue with that? for really, there isn’t any place for Leonard Cohen on the dance floor now, is there?! And trust me, listening to ”Summer Beats 2013′ in a 19thC cafe in Bologna is just so wrong)!

Aristotle was probably the one who first made the crucial connection between music, poetry and lofty thought and perhaps suggested that drama ought to have a more moral purpose rather than remain mere entertainment. This then went on to be the theoretical backbone of the new art of “opera”,  (latin for “a body of work”, a synergy of all the widely acclaimed artforms) Perfected during the renaissance in Italy, this new “trend” quickly found acceptance in other individual and distinctive schools in a number of European countries. Through the proper projection of the emotions of pity and fear, carried on by skilled artists, the audience would undergo a moral cleansing, a catharsis, a coming away feeling elated and unburdened – (something that we still seek through the relentless energy of feel-good, happy-ending films)!

The Marriage of Figaro_ENO_ 2011_Mary Bevan_Credit Sarah Lee,
Mary Bevan in The Marriage of Figaro. Pic credits © Sarah Lee

Opera clearly had a moral purpose, and in time would go on to have a political one too! Enter Mozart with his “The Marriage of Figaro”, a brilliantly woven comedy of human relations, which has held it’s relevance through the last 200 years as a social and political situational drama. Seeing that the story is foregrounded at the time of the French Revolution, Figaro’s brazen-faced affront of his master Count Almaviva’s authority can also be seen as the triumph of the proletariat’s decision of challenging rigidly established aristocracy!

Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” is the tumultuous tale of the events of one crazy day as Figaro, the Count’s valet, tries to wed Susanna, the Countess’s maid, before the philandering Count can get to her first. Mozart’s glorious music with his librettist Lorenzo da Ponte gives “opera buffa” (comic opera – where stock characters, comic and cunning servants, angry and penny-pinching fathers, passionate lovers, lustful daughters and bragging soldiers found their place after it’s more sombre “opera seria”) an enduring historical context. Fiona Shaw’s buzzing production at The English National Opera “sees its plot of sexual intrigue, mistaken identities and unexpected revelations unravel with clock-like precision within the confines of a maze-like household in which the servants are perfectly capable of thwarting their masters at every time.”

As I might have at some point said to my post-graduate students, Figaro, like all masterpieces is a wonderful story of adventure – replete with plot and counter-plot, danger and disguise, intrigue and mystery! Not for the sexually prudish either – it showcases a wide sexual canvas ranging from the naïveté  in the love of young Cherubino, who would like to emulate the Count’s prowess but is denied the means; the mundanity of Susanna and the raw lust of Count Almaviva. Completing the picture is the elevated resilience and forgiveness of the Countess. A winsome yarn that touches on social manner and political reform; it’s enduring charm being its lasting relevance in holding up a mirror to society and human poignancy and doing so with a punchy, bold humour! An achingly full-blooded synthesis of all the other arts – drama, vocal and orchestral music, dance, light and design!

In The English National Opera production of The Marriage of Figaro, David Stout and Mary Bevan star as the wily servants Figaro and Susanna, with Benedict Nelson as Count Almaviva and Sarah-Jane Brandon as the wronged Countess! Conductor Jaime Martin returns to ENO following his debut last year in Rossini’s Barber of Seville.

You can find more information about the shows, ticket prices and timings on the official website of The English National Opera!

(*Disclaimer : This is a sponsored post for The English National Opera)

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  1. Nicky says

    That was amazing, especially to a newbie. I’ve always enjoyed classical music but stayed far from the opera. I might actually look into cheap tickets now.

  2. Dan says

    Wow! I did not know that, eye opening! I knew nothing of the Opera, but you’ve definitely made the Opera less daunting for me. Lovely read!

  3. Lorraine Seb says

    Ab Fab, Kanchan! Really enjoyed this one…Imminently readable, informative and above all else, enjoyable! Would love to read more in this series! XO

  4. says

    Wowzers! I know nothing about Opera and always assumed I wouldn’t be able to follow or, worse still, fall asleep (it’s a trade mark of mine). But this sounds totally gripping and you told it in such a fantastic way – you should be a writer 😉 xx
    hannah recently posted…Two very different birth stories!My Profile

  5. says

    Haha, you won’t…it’s very enthralling, if you choose wisely ;P Thank you for enjoying the post…and about the writer bit, might have to give it a go sometime ;P xx

  6. says

    Not a philistine in the least Jen, neither has my husband and we’ve been together for 18 years! ;P We’re made to believe it’s only for a select few. Not.True You’re so lovely, Jen Walshaw 🙂 x

  7. says

    That’s just the sweetest thing I’ve heard, Michelle! I love the arts and feel so thrilled when someone decides to give it a go…Just remember to ignore all those things that get associated with the opera…snobbish, miserable people who act like you need to belong to a particular set to go watch. Art is for the everyman and should have stayed that way!

  8. says

    Ooh, Verdi is so engaging…I’ve never watched anything by him Live, though! I do too re the booklets, and always tell myself that’s wahat it’s there for 🙂 x

  9. says

    I havent really seen a proper opera play. I have seen some small plays in my country and that is it. It is probably something that I have to get ready for financially. #pocolo
    Merlinda Little (@pixiedusk) recently posted…HumbaMy Profile

  10. says

    Sometimes you have vouchers or there are tickets that often sell for £25-£27, keep your eyes out Merlinda…I hope you get an opportunity very soon 🙂 x

  11. says

    Ricerco un bene fuori di me,
    Non so chi ‘l tiene, non so cos’è.
    Sospiro e gemo senza voler,
    Palpito e tremo senza saper,
    Non trovo pace notte né dì:
    Ma pur mi piace languir così.

    I look for something beautiful outside of myself,
    I don’t know who has it, I don’t know what it is.
    I sigh and groan without wanting to,
    I quiver and tremble without knowing it,
    I find no peace night or day,
    And yet I like suffering this way!

    Cherubino Act II Sc iii

    And I suppose that describes us all at one time or another. 😉 #PoCoLo
    Paula Reed Nancarrow recently posted…VirusMy Profile

  12. says

    My goodness, you nailed it Paula! This is exactly what I meant by “holding up a mirror to human poignancy”. Brilliant, isn’t it?! We ALL feel that way, the quest for meaning, the exquisite hurt of the search to find that…it’s the stuff our lives are made of. Thank you for stopping by and putting the biggest smile on my face this morning 🙂 x

  13. says

    Beautiful post and it was the law in Ancient Greece to attend the amphitheatres and experience emotion-you were deemed a more rounded citizen if you did so. I adore the English National Opera and years ago was commissioned to make a promo on Lucia di Lammermoor for them (you can watch it on just click promos-BBC Music Magazine reviewed the promo saying they hoped the production lived up to it-high praise indeed, an incredible experience as was watching the opera with my mother on opening night. Thanks for linking up to #brilliantblogposts x
    Honest Mum recently posted…A Lovely Day Out in LiverpoolMy Profile

  14. says

    You never cease to surprise Ms.Psarias, you! 😉 Wow! I can’t seem to find a search function there to look for promos as I would absolutely love to watch this! I’ve always been quite into the Arts, taught European Literature for years, so when I got this assignment, I was pleased as punch! Sadly, a lot of people dismiss it as something that isn’t for them, and it really so is if you peeled away all the connotations that Opera has 🙂 Nice to come across a kindred spirit! x


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