Le Nozze di Figaro

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Last Sunday I was at the MuziekTheater, Amsterdam’s main opera theatre to see Le Nozze di Figaro, a comic opera by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, with Italian libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte, based on a stage comedy by Pierre Beaumarchais, La folle journée, ou le Mariage de Figaro (1784). It was a very exciting Sunday because I have never been to an opera before. The ceiling, the lights and the stage brought me straight back to Mozart classical era.

When the opera music started to play, I imagined that it was Mozart himself who conducted it. Well, at least until I saw Figaro (Luca Pisaroni) on the stage who’re actually wearing a modern costume. And then, I was absolutely amazed by how brilliant this opera was produced – a classical comic opera with baritones, sopranos, mezzo-sopranos and tenors in modern costume and yet, it remains both classical and contemporary in the same time. I have had only one word for it: BRILLIANT.

Le Nozze di Figaro (= The Marriage of Figaro) is a continuation of the plot of The Barber of Seville several years later, and recounts a single “Day of Madness” (la folle giornata) in the palace of the Count Almaviva (Garry Magee) near Seville, Spain. Rosina is now the Countess (Michaela Kaune). Dr. Bartolo (Mario Luperi) is seeking revenge against Figaro (Luca Pisaroni) for thwarting his plans to marry Rosina himself. And Count Almaviva has degenerated from the romantic youth of Barber into a scheming, bullying and skirt-chasing baritone. Having gratefully given Figaro a job as head of his servant-staff, he is now persistently trying to obtain the favors of Figaro’s bride-to-be, Susanna (Marie Arnet). He keeps finding excuses to delay the civil part of the wedding of his two servants, which is arranged for this very day. Figaro, Susanna, and the Countess conspire to embarrass the Count and expose his scheming. He responds with his attempt to legally compel Figaro to marry Marcellina (Charlotte Margiono), a woman who’s old enough to be his mother, but it turns out that she really is his mother. Through Figaro’s and Susanna’s clever manipulations, the Count’s love for his Countess is finally restored.

One particular aria, Voi che sapete that’s a very familiar aria to my ears (and it keeps on playing in my head) was sang by Cherubino (Marina Comparato):

Voi che sapete che cosa e amor,
Donne, vedete, s’io l’ho nel cor,
Donne, vedete, s’io l’ho nel cor.
Quello ch’io provo, vi ridiro,
E per me nuovo capir nol so.
Sento un affetto pien di desir,
Ch’ora e diletto, ch’ora e martir.
Gelo e poi sento l’alma avvampar,
E in un momento torno a gelar.
Ricerco un bene fuori di me,
Non so chi il tiene, non so cos’ e.
Sospiro e gemo senza voler,
Palpito e tremo senza saper,
Non trovo pace notte ne di,
Ma pur mi piace languir cosi.
Voi, che sapete che cosa e amor
Donne, vedete, s’io l’ho nel cor,
Donne, vedete, s’io l’ho nel cor,
Donne, vedete, s’io l’ho nel cor.

English translation:

You who know what love is,
Ladies, see if I have it in my heart.
I’ll tell you what I’m feeling,
It’s new for me, and I understand nothing.
I have a feeling, full of desire,
Which is by turns delightful and miserable.
I freeze and then feel my soul go up in flames,
Then in a moment I turn to ice.
I’m searching for affection outside of myself,
I don’t know how to hold it, nor even what it is!
I sigh and lament without wanting to,
I twitter and tremble without knowing why,
I find peace neither night nor day,
But still I rather enjoy languishing this way.
You who know what love is,
Ladies, see if I have it in my heart.

I cannot believe that I could actually sit tight for almost four hours long during the opera but I did. I really did. I was hypnotized and mesmerized by each and all of the casts of Le Nozze di Figaro. But sadly, there is always an end to each story, to Le Nozze di Figaro included. I am sure that I’ll be back to this opera theater to be yet hypnotized and mesmerized by another opera’s. I am very sure of it!

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