Moores School of Music Opera Presents: The Marriage of Figaro

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


The Moores School of Music Opera will be performing The Marriage of Figaro from February 28-March 3. This will be a great opportunity to see some of the best young operatic talent in the country.


The Marriage of Figaro is a comic opera by Mozart, with a libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte. It was first performed in Vienna in 1786. The opera is based on a play by Pierre Beaumarchais, which itself was based on a story by Giovanni Battista Basile.

The story revolves around the Count Almaviva, who is trying to bed his wife’s maid, Susanna. Susanna is betrothed to the Count’s valet, Figaro. The Countess Almaviva is in love with her husband, but he is constantly trying to cheat on her.

The opera is full of comedy and clever wordplay. The music is some of Mozart’s best, and the opera features some of his most famous arias, such as “Non so più” and “Voi che sapete”.

What is Opera?

Opera is a form of theatre in which music has a leading role and the parts are taken by singers. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance.

The word opera is short for the Italian expression opera in musica, or “work in music”. Opera is a complex artistic form in which the emotionally expressive recitative is interwoven with *arias* (musical passages sung by soloists) and *ensembles* (sections of the libretto sung by more than one person). Choruses are also frequently used to comment on the action or to represent the feelings of a group of characters.

Opera originated in Italy at the end of the 16th century and soon spread throughout Europe. Although it has been through many changes since its early beginnings, it still retains some of its original characteristics. These include an emphasis on song and music as the primary means of telling a story, as well as using both soloists and groups of singers.

What is The Marriage of Figaro?

The Marriage of Figaro is an opera buffa (comic opera) in four acts composed in 1786 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, with an Italian libretto written by Lorenzo da Ponte. It premiered at the Burgtheater in Vienna on 1 May 1786. The work is based on a stage comedy by Pierre Beaumarchais, La folle journée, ou le Mariage de Figaro (“The Mad Day, or The Marriage of Figaro”), first performed in Paris in 1784.

Figaro is completed as a brilliant combination of humor and drama, ludicrous situations and sparkling wit. The characters within it represent well the 21st-century concern for the rights and wrongs of global capitalism – all set to some of the most beautiful music ever written!

What to Expect

When watching an opera, there are a few things you can expect. First, the story is usually sung in a foreign language, with English subtitles projected above the stage to help follow along. Second, there are breaks between each Act where you can stretch your legs or grab a drink. Finally, because it is a live performance, anything can happen!

No matter what happens, just enjoy the experience and the beautiful music.

The Characters

The Marriage of Figaro is a comedy of manners that tells the story of a day in the life of the servants in a seventeenth-century Spanish palace. The main characters are:

Figaro: A clever and quick-witted barber, Figaro is an expert at cutting hair and shaving beards. He is also very good at outwitting his master, Count Almaviva.

Susanna: Figaro’s fiancée, Susanna is a beautiful and intelligent young woman. She is very much in love with Figaro, but she is also aware of his faults.

Count Almaviva: Susanna’s employer, Count Almaviva is a wealthy aristocrat who has fallen in love with Susanna. He is a jealous husband and him constantly trying to outsmart Figaro leads to much of the comedy in the opera.

Cherubino: A young pageboy who works for Count Almaviva, Cherubino is always getting into trouble. He has a crush on every woman he meets, including Susanna.

Marcellina: A maidservant who works for Count Almaviva, Marcellina is in love with Figaro. She blackmails him into marrying her when she finds out that he owes her money.

Bartolo: Marcellina’s father, Bartolo is an old doctor who also wants to marry Marcellina to Figaro.

Basilio: A music teacher who works for Count Almaviva, Basilio is in love with Barbarina, the gardener’s daughter.

Barbarina: The gardener’s daughter, Barbarina is in love with Cherubino.

The Plot

The Marriage of Figaro is a comedy of manners that centers around the titular character and his betrothed, Susanna. The story covers a single day, in which Susanna fends off the advances of Figaro’s lecherous employer, Count Almaviva, andFigaro schemes to thwart the count’s attempts at infidelity. Along the way, a number of other characters’ machinations are revealed, including those of Rosina, the false identity assumed by Almaviva’s wife in an attempt to make him jealous. In the end, all is revealed and everyone ends up (relatively) happily married.

The Music

The Marriage of Figaro is an opera buffa (comic opera) in four acts composed in 1786 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, with a libretto written in Italian by Lorenzo Da Ponte. It premiered at the Burgtheater in Vienna on 1 May 1786. The work is widely regarded as one of the greatest operas ever written.[1]

The music of the opera was principally composed by Mozart, with contributions by Da Ponte, Antonio Salieri andvicarious others. The overture, known popularly as “The Marriage of Figaro Overture”, was composed by Mozart in just four days.[2]


So, what did you think of our production of The Marriage of Figaro? We hope you enjoyed it!

Please take a few minutes to fill out our survey and let us know what you thought. We value your feedback and use it to improve our future productions.

Thank you for supporting the Moores School of Music Opera!

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