Period.Pieces

Figaro Set Design Notes

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Beaumarchais’s controversial play The Marriage of Figaro was written in 1778 and is often credited with heralding the French Revolution. By ridiculing the accepted rights and privileges of the nobility it called for a social re-ordering that aroused the ire of government censors and was not performed in public until 1784 at the Comédie Française.

It premiered however in 1783 at a private performance supported by Marie Antoinette in the home of aristocrat Joseph Hyacinthe Vaudreuil (Vaudreuil was rumoured to be the lover of the duchesse de Polignac, friend and confidant of the Queen).

For Opera Atelier’s version of Mozart’s … Read more

Figaro Conductor’s Notes

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When Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro finally received its premiere on May 1, 1786 (some writers have remarked on the symbolism of the date, given that the opera revolves around conflicts between working servants and leisured aristocrats) it was an immediate success. By the time of the fourth performance, the Emperor had to order the Burgtheater’s manager to post a notice that “no piece for more than a single voice will be repeated”, in order to “prevent the excessive duration of operas”. Apparently at the third performance seven pieces had been encored, including the little duet between Susanna and Cherubino, … Read more

Figaro Director’s Notes

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History abounds with numerous examples of commedia dell’arte-based theatre running afoul of official critics and censors. Beaumarchais’ The Marriage of Figaro is no exception. This commedia-based play caused a scandal due to its irreverent critique of the social mores, hierarchy, and political institutions of late 18th century France.

What much of the ruling class found most shocking however was the implication that a female servant could successfully impersonate a member of the nobility by simply changing her clothes for those of her mistress. Consequently, it seems particularly ironic that just four months after the premiere of Beaumarchais’ play, a … Read more

Figaro Choreographer’s Notes

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“Madame Mozart told me that great as his genius was, [Mozart] was an enthusiast in dancing, and often said that his taste lay in that art, rather than in music.”

                                                                        Michael Kelly (the first Don Basilio)

The Marriage of Figaro (2010).

Mozart’s love of dance manifested itself in many ways. He studied ballet with the revered noble style dancer Gaétan Vestris, and was very eager, as a young man, to collaborate with the famous choreographer, Noverre. His notes regarding the dances in his opera-ballet Idomeneo bear witness to his intense involvement in the choreographic aspect of the production.

Mozart … Read more

Opera Atelier in France’s Le Figaro

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We are delighted to announce that the company has been featured on the front page of the special entertainment section of Le Figaro – the most important newspaper in France. The photograph, by OA photographer Bruce Zinger, shows the company in performance at the Royal Opera House Versailles, while on our most recent tour of Charpentier’s Medea. This is a wonderful affirmation of the place Opera Atelier now holds in one of the most prestigious opera houses in Europe. None of this would have been possible without the active participation of the Touring Section of the Canada Council, Ontario … Read more