Some Background on The Marriage of Figaro
"Figaro" as it's often called is based on the play by Pierre-Auguste Beaumarchais -- said to
have helped foment the French Revolution. However Mozart who was not political did not
object to having his librettist Lorenzo da Ponte cut the political and social reference in
order to sharpen it as a musical drama.
The opera premiered on May 1, 1786 and was such a rousing success that almost every piece had
to be encored. A good thing? Not quite when you consider that this doubled the length of an
already long performance--at least that day since thereafter encores were banned by order of the
Austrian Emperor. In any case, this initial triumph did not last beyond 8 performances. Later that
year, however, the opera triumphed again in Prague and led to a commission for another Mozart
masterpiece, Don Giovanni.
Figaro had its American premiere (at the Metropolitan Opera) in 1894 and while it
remained in that company's repertory until 1917, it was then dropped until 1940.
The wily barber-valet also served as the hero of another opera, Rossini's Barber of Seville
but Mozart's opera is the greater challenge since it demands stellar singers of all its roles.
Some Background on the Berkshire Opera Company
The Berkshire Opera Company is one of those wonderful little engines that keep chugging along
despite the financial difficulties common to regional artistic enterprises.
In its thirteen year history, the company has wandered from home to home, bravely putting on
two fully staged productions each summer. This year, it has found its most spacious and
appropriate home to date in the Robert Boland Theatre at Berkshire Community College's
Koussevitzky Arts Center which is set smack in the middle of some of the Berkshires' most
magnificent rolling hills. The beautiful inside space has a large, raked for uniformly good seating
orchestra and generously proportioned stage.
The company puts on two fully staged operas each season (this summer's first production,
Handel's Semmele, (based on a play by William Congreve) was semi-staged because that's was its
original intention.hat was called for.
All operas are in English as part of the company's commitment making opera accessible to wider
audiences. That means younger and often new-to-opera audiences--and indeed anyone who has
attended any of them can attest to the fact that audiences are spread across the age spectrum and
include a fair smattering of children.