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Understanding Italian Opera$
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Tim Carter

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780190247942

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190247942.001.0001

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Lorenzo da Ponte and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Le nozze di Figaro (Vienna, 1786)

Lorenzo da Ponte and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Le nozze di Figaro (Vienna, 1786)

Chapter 4 Lorenzo da Ponte and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Le nozze di Figaro (Vienna, 1786)
Understanding Italian Opera

Tim Carter

Oxford University Press

Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro; 1786) was the composer’s first finished attempt to break into the Italian-dominated world of opera in Vienna. Its librettist, Lorenzo da Ponte, adapted a highly controversial French comedy by Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais that struck to the heart of contemporary Revolutionary rhetoric. Mozart also rode on the coattails of Giovanni Paisiello’s comic opera Il barbiere di Siviglia in an attempt to make his mark. As the first of the three Mozart-da Ponte operas, Figaro exploited the talents of singers whom the composer knew well, such as Francesco Benucci and Anna (Nancy) Storace, the first Figaro and Susanna. It also expanded the forms of opera buffa by including ensembles and extended finales where the music needed to engage with dramatic interaction rather than just individual expression.

Keywords:   Beaumarchais, Benucci, comedy, da Ponte, finale, Mozart, opera buffa, Paisiello, Storace, Vienna

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