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Passion, politics, deception and cross-dressing - all under one roof!
In a word the merit of my libretto consisted, according to him [His Majesty the Emperor], in a pretty line here and there, or at most in a few happy arias...
Memoirs of Lorenzo da Ponte, translated by Elisabeth Abbott, 1929.
[Pierre-Augustin Caron de] Beaumarchais sums up his play [the comedy La folle journeé, ou le mariage de Figaro (1784)] in few words: "A great Spanish gentleman, in love with a girl whom he wishes to seduce, and the efforts that this fiancée, the man who she is to marry, and the wife of the seigneur unite in, to bring about the collapse of the designs of an absolute lord whose rank, fortune and prodigality make him powerful enough to accomplish them."
Le nozze di Figaro is above all an opera buffa, a work that sets off supremely those central concerns of humankind: love as opposed to lustfulness, generosity and loyalty rather than selfishness.
PETER BRANSCOMBE © 2001