Le nozze di Figaro 

W A Mozart Le nozze di Figaro

Premiered: 1 May 1786 at the Burgtheater, Vienna
Libretto: written by Lorenzo Da Ponte

The edition of Le nozze di Figaro used in these performances is published by Bärenreiter-Verlag Kassel

Patron Her Majesty The Queen
President Sir John Tomlinson CBE
Principal Professor Linda Merrick
Chair Ravi Gupta

Synopsis

The Marriage of Figaro is the sequel to another play by Beaumarchais, The Barber of Seville. In this earlier work, the young Count Almaviva, aided by the cunning barber Figaro, wins the hand of Rosina, thwarting the amorous designs of the older Dr Bartolo. Bartolo has been seeking revenge on Figaro ever since for his involvement in the plot.

In Le nozze di Figaro, the marriage between the Count and Rosina, now the Countess, has become strained due to his philandering. The Count is more interested in the young ladies in his service in particular, Susanna, who is about to marry Figaro, who is now employed as the Count’s valet. The Count plans to revive the old law of le droit du seigneur, giving himself a right to sleep with any women in his employment on her wedding night. Figaro, Susanna, and the Countess conspire to expose the Count’s infidelity. Meanwhile, Figaro is caught up in a long-standing financial dispute with Bartolo and Marcellina. A comic series of mistaken identity and intrigue result in the Count’s downfall.

Act 1

Figaro and Susanna have been given new married quarters by the Count. Susanna realises their room is very close to the Count’s own apartment and is concerned what will happen when Figaro is away on business. Figaro vows that the Count may wish to dance, but he, Figaro, will call the tune.

Bartolo is adamant he will get his own back on Figaro. He is relying on Figaro being unable to repay a loan made by Marcellina, the agreed penalty for no-payment being that Figaro must marry her. It soon becomes apparent that Susanna and Marcellina are not the best of friends.

Susanna is visited by Cherubino, an adolescent barely able to contain the feelings all women incite in him. Cherubino is trying to avoid the Count who has got wind of his latest encounter with Barbarina, the gardener’s daughter. When the Count is heard approaching with Don Basilio, Cherubino quickly hides. The Count is hardly pleased when Basilio tells him the Countess herself is not immune from Cherubino’s advances. When recounting the story of how he discovered Cherubino with Barbarina, the Count unexpectedly reveals Cherubino’s hiding place. The situation is diffused when Figaro leads a chorus of servants praising the Count’s alleged intention of renouncing the droit du seigneur, but it doesn’t save Cherubino from being commissioned to the army.

Act 2

The Countess reflects on her former happiness. When she is joined by Figaro and Susanna, the three hatch a plot to embarrass the Count in his extra-marital philandering. They will send him a letter purporting to be from Susanna arranging an assignation but will send instead Cherubino disguised as a girl. Cherubino enters and sings a love song he has composed. The real object of his desire is the Countess but, when alone with her, any chance of giving into it is scuppered when the Count is heard approaching. Cherubino hides and the Countess protests her innocence to her husband. He refuses to believe her and leaves to fetch the means to open the door.  Seizing the moment, Susanna helps Cherubino to escape, much to the Count’s embarrassment when he returns and the Countess’ relief. The Count is forced to beg forgiveness.

Figaro returns to ask that his wedding not be postponed further. The Count questions him about a letter he has received about an assignation with Susanna.  She and the Countess frantically try to indicate that is all in the past now that the Count has received his comeuppance. Their efforts are negated by Antonio the gardener, who rushes in telling of how he saw a man jump from a window.  Realising that he means Cherubino, who should now have made himself scarce, Figaro claims it was he who jumped, whereupon the Count asks him how it was then that he dropped Cherubino’s commission. When Marcellina and Bartolo remind Figaro of his unpaid debt, things move from bad to worse.

Interval

Act 3

Susanna and the Countess have a new plan. Susanna will still arrange to meet the Count, but instead the Countess will go disguised as Susanna. Likewise, Susanna will disguise herself as the Countess. The Count muses on the events of the day and, after overhearing Susanna and Figaro talking, becomes suspicious and angry. The case of Figaro’s debt has come to court. He protests that he cannot marry Marcellina without his parents’ consent. In a surprise turn of events, it transpires he is the long-lost son of Marcellina and Bartolo. When Susanna appears with the money to pay the debt, she sees Figaro and Marcellina embracing and demands an explanation.

The Countess reminisces of happier times. With Susanna, she drafts the letter to be sent to her husband arranging the assignation.

The marriage of Susanna and Figaro moves a step further. Now it will be a double wedding with Marcellina and Bartolo. The servants sing in honour of the two couples and dancing ensues.  Cherubino is spotted in disguise and Barbarina persuades the Count to let him stay. Susanna gives the Count the letter of assignation asking that he return the pin sealing it as a sign of agreement.

Act 4

Barbarina, charged with delivering the pin, has lost it. From what she reveals, Figaro assumes that Susanna is being unfaithful. Marcellina provides Barbarina with a new pin and warns Susanna – now an ally rather than an enemy – that woman should stick together. Figaro scorns the fickleness of women and calls on Bartolo and Basilio to witness what he thinks will be Susanna’s act of betrayal.  Knowing Figaro is watching her, Susanna teases him by singing of her longing to meet the lover she is waiting for. The Count moves towards the Countess, thinking her to be Susanna. The arrival of Cherubino, attempting to seize his chance to kiss the Countess complicates an already confusing situation. Eventually, recognising Susanna’s voice, Figaro realises what is going on, but keeps up the pretence of wooing the Countess to annoy the Count. As the Count expresses his fury, disguises are removed, and the real Countess emerges. The Count, embarrassed, begs forgiveness.

Geoff Thomason

Creative Team

Peter Whelan Conductor
Jonathan Cocker Director
Bob Bailey Set and Costume Designer
Paul Botham Lighting Designer
Robin Wallington Assistant Conductor (Sat 2 Apr)
Kevin Thraves Chorus master
Bethan Rhys-Wiliam Choreographer
Antonia Sotgiu Italian Language Coach
Jacob Swindells Production Repetiteur (Sir John Fisher Foundation Junior Fellow)

Surtitles provided by Jonathan Burton

To read creative team biographies, click here.

Cast

In order of appearance:

Liam James Karai*, Samuel Snowden** Figaro
Pasquale Orchard*, Sarah Prestwidge** Susanna
Conrad Chatterton*, Adam Jarman** Bartolo
Lila Chrisp*, Morgana Warren-Jones** Marcellina
Melissa Gregory*, Camilla Seale** Cherubino
Emyr Jones*, William Kyle** Il Conte di Almaviva
Gabriel Seawright*, Zihua Zhang** Basilo
Georgie Malcolm*, Anastasia Bevan** La Contessa di Almaviva
Thomas Ashdown*, Callum McCandless** Antonio
Emily Brown Gibson*, Sally Pitts** Barbarina
Henry Strutt*, Hakeem Henderson** Don Curzio
Cherie Tse*, Ellen Pearson*, Jane Burnell**, Priscilla Fong** Due Donne

* Sun 27, Wed 30 Mar, Sat 2 Apr
** Mon 28, Thu 31 Mar

To read cast biographies, click here.

RNCM Opera Chorus

Brennan Alleyne
Andras Balla
Jay Broadhurst
Gigi Casey
Merel-Magali Cox
Peter Entwisle
Ellie Forrester
Alex Grave
Amelia Gray
Kristen Gregory
Sam Horton
Sophie Iliaifar
Ethan Jacobs
Stian Jebsen
Ruby Magee
Patrick Parlaj
Robyn Pullen
Esther Shea
Emily Stewart
Samuel Strongman
Joseph Taylor
Kelsey Thomas
Samuel Weakley
Nicola Wilson

RNCM Opera Orchestra

First Violins
James Warburton
Elizabeth Dawson
Orin Jacob Syer
Fionnghuala Drumgoole
Jeongyun Lee
Adela Philippi
Cameron Jackson
Rory MastersonSecond Violins
Rachel Stonham
Richard Dunne
Emma Robinson
Beth McAlister
Lemoni Frary
Tabitha Kobine
Michael Rosenberg
Ellie MarksViolas
Susanna Ward
Ben Norris
Michaela Jones
Rhiannon CollinsCellos
Jakub Smola
Olivia Morton
Hermione SmithBasses
Bryn Davies
Sara BanksFlutes
Jack Rainey
Naomi RobinsonOboes
Tommy Hill
Mariam JacksonClarinets
Benjamin Pinto
Samuel Austin

Bassoons
Beatriz Carvalho
Erline Moreira

Horns
Victoria Schofield
Abbie Young

Trumpets
Adam Neild
Zoe Kundu

Timpani
Angela Shao

Fortepiano Continuo
Jacob Swindells (27, 30 March, 2 April)
James Gillett (28, 31 March)

Cello Continuo
Natalie Bechmann (27, 28, 31 March)
Nathan Jackson-Turner (30 March, 2 April)

School of Vocal Studies and Opera

Professor Lynne Dawson Head of Vocal Studies and Opera
Kevin Thraves Deputy Head of Opera
James Kelly School of Vocal Studies and Opera Administrator

Orchestras and Ensembles Team

Andrew Bayly Head of Ensembles
Amy Gordon Orchestras and Ensembles Manager (SS)
Charlotte Ferry Orchestras and Ensembles Manager (SWBP)
Clara Marshall Cawley Orchestras and Ensembles Assistant Manager
Abigail Flood Ensemble Administrator
Tom Goddard Ensembles Librarian
Jack Grime Chamber Music and Conducting Administrator

Technical Team

Nick Ware Head of Digital, Technical and Production
Paul Botham Technical Manager
Elaine Needham Wardrobe Manager
Sam Fraser Production Manager
Greg Skipworth Company Manager
Tracey Collinson Stage Manager
Sarah Kent Deputy Stage Manager
Louise Morgan Assistant Stage Manager
Tina Blatt Props Assistant
Julie Parker Deputy Production Manager (Lighting)
Steve Barrington Deputy Production Manager (Stage)
Theo Puddu, Michaela Wagner, Ema Gosnell Surtitles Operator
Rebecca Louise Parkes Deputy Wardrobe Manager
Tom Jansen Wardrobe Assistant
Jo Best Wigs, Hair and Makeup Supervisor
Setfree Projects Ltd Set Construction and Scenic Painting