Opera buffa in four acts · Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart · Libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte, based upon Le mariage de Figaro, by Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais · Premiere: Vienna, 1st May 1786, Burgtheater
This performance of Le Nozze di Figaro is the result of combined work between Ruggero Raimondi and the members of the Centre de Perfeccionament Plácido Domingo which he directs. It is Ruggero Raimondi's wish to promote the interpretative, vocal and scenic possibilities of the Centre's artists. In order to do so, he produces a dramatic space with a bare environment, which is interpretatively sustained only on the essential scenic elements, light and costumes.
Assistant stage director
Il Conte di Almaviva
La Contessa di Almaviva
New production Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía
Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana
Cor del Centre de Perfeccionament Plácido Domingo
Juan Luis Martínez, chorus master
5th, 10th December 2011
Teatre Martín i Soler
Palace of Count Almaviva on the outskirts of Seville. Figaro and Susanna, servants of Count Almaviva and his wife, the Countess, respectively, are completing the preparations for their wedding. Susanna is trying to make her future husband understand that the reason the Count has let them have a room near their chambers is because they want to keep the maid nearby to carry on harassing her with his lecherous proposals. Figaro, who thought that the droit de seigneur had been abolished in the Count's lands, decides to scheme a plan to take vengeance on the nobleman.
Bartolo and his housekeeper, Marcellina, appear on the scene. She is carrying a contract according to which Figaro will be bound to marry her in the event of not repaying a pending debt. Susanna and Marcellina coincide in the same room in the palace for a moment and insult each other. When Susanna is alone again, Cherubino the page arrives, a youth who cannot help falling in love with all the women he meets. He was caught by the Count when he was flirting with Barbarina, Antonio the gardener's daughter, which led to him being expelled from the Palace. Cherubino asks Susanna to intervene on his behalf and to ask the Count and Countess to pardon him. The Count bursts into Susanna's room. Cherubino hides behind an armchair.
The nobleman tries once again to seduce the young servant, but when he hears someone coming, he hides behind the armchair while Cherubino slides around it to end up sitting on it. Susanna immediately covers the page with a dress. Basilio enters, the music teacher at the Palace, who comments on the inappropriate attraction that Cherubino feels for the Countess. This angers the Count, who jealously comes out from his hiding place and discovers Cherubino, leading him to accuse Susanna of cheating on her fiancé.
Figaro appears with a group of yokels who sing a song of thanks to the Count for abolishing the droit de seigneur. Figaro's cleverness displeases the Count, who realises that his servant wishes to hold his wedding as soon as possible. Susanna and Figaro ask the Count to pardon Cherubino, which he agrees to providing that the youth leaves immediately to join the army.
Countess of Almaviva's lounge and bedroom. The Countess is feeling sorry for herself because her husband doesn't love her as he did before. Figaro and Susana persuade her to cooperate with them in a trap they are scheming to catch the Count and punish him so that he will leave Susanna alone. Their scheme involves an anonymous note written to the Count warning him about an amorous appointment of the Countess, while at the same time Susanna has sent another letter to the Count asking him to meet her in the gardens at midnight, with the purpose of his wife surprising him. Cherubino, disguised as Susanna will be there to meet the Count.
The Countess and Susanna start to disguise the page as a woman. Susanna leaves the room for a moment and the Count knocks on the door. Cherubino hides in the closet. The Count, suspicious at finding the room locked, is enraged further still when he hears noises from the closet next to the Countess's bedroom. The Countess says that it is Susanna who is in there, but the disbelieving Count, amazed by his wife refusing to open the door, makes her leave with him in search of tools to force open the lock. Susanna takes advantage of their absence and, after helping Cherubino to climb out of the window, takes his place in the closet. Once the door is opened, the Count is amazed to find that his wife was telling the truth. But the appearance of Antonio the gardener, complaining that a man has climbed out of the window and trampled his flowers, causes new suspicion in the Count.
Figaro enters, who through improvisation and ingenuity tries to convince the Count that it was he who climbed out of the window. The Count of Almaviva, unable to find words to discredit Figaro's explanations, still believes they are scheming something against him. Bartolo, Marcellina and Basilio appear, ordering Figaro to abide by his commitment to marry Marcellina if he does not repay his debt. The Count sees his chance to get rid of Figaro.
Large lounge in the Palace. Susanna is pretending to submit to the amorous pretensions of the Count and agrees to meet him. But, because of an unfortunate comment Susanna makes to Figaro when they are leaving the lounge, once again the Count suspects they are trying to cheat him, and, enraged, swears revenge. Marcellina and Bartolo arrive with the notary public Don Curzio, prepared to force Figaro to comply with his part of the agreement with Marcellina: to repay the debt or marry her. Figaro, once again makes excuses, and says that he was kidnapped when he was young and does not know who his parents are. But a birthmark on his arm identifies him as the son of Marcellina and Bartolo. Parents and son embrace. There will be a second wedding: Bartolo and Marcellina's.
Susanna and the Countess carry on with their conspiracy and finish Susanna's letter calling the Count to their meeting in the garden. In fact it will be the Countess herself who will be there, disguised as Susanna, to ridicule her husband and chastise him. A group of yokels come to sing before the Countess. Cherubino, who Barbarina, Antonio's daughter, has disguised as a woman in order to get him into the Palace, is among them. The page's identity is revealed before the Count, who, further enraged, tries to get rid of Cherubino once and for all. Barbarina, who is in love with the young man, manages to get the nobleman to pardon him.
The preparations for the wedding begin, and the guests start to arrive. Susanna takes advantage to discreetly deliver the letter to the Count, calling him to their secret meeting. In the midst of the celebration, the guests start to dance a Fandango, as a starter before the announced dance that will take place that night in the Palace to celebrate the weddings.
In the palace gardens. Barbarina is crying because she has lost the broach the Count gave her. Figaro consoles her. Furthermore, he is starting to feel jealous because he has noticed that his loved one, Susanna, is the one who is going to go to the meeting with the Count. Cherubino and Barbarina hide in the pavilion to the left. Figaro sets off to find Bartolo and Basilio. Susanna and the Countess appear, having exchanged their clothes. The Countess enters the pavilion on the left and Susanna, noticing that Figaro is watching her, starts to sing a song to make him jealous. Susanna enters the pavilion and the Countess takes her place.
Cherubino thinks the Countess is Susanna and starts to declare his love for her. The Count, in the dark of the night, receives a kiss that was for Susanna. At the same time, Figaro, who has moved across, receives the blow that the Count was aiming at Cherubino. The Count, alone at last with the one he believes to be Susanna, declares his love for her and gives her his wife's ring. The Countess runs off, and hides in the pavilion on the right when she sees people coming. The Count runs off to the woods.
Figaro, confused at first, at last discovers that the person concealed beneath the Countess's clothing is none other than Susanna. He plays along and tries to outdo her. Susanna slaps him several times. Finally they make up. The Count arrives. Figaro pretends to make an amorous declaration, on his knees before the Countess. With a cry of outrage by the Count, everyone gathers round and the nobleman denounces his wife's unfaithfulness with Figaro. But before the disbelieving standers-by, especially the Count himself, the Countess comes out of the right pavilion carrying the ring that the Count had just given to Susanna in her hand. The Count begs his wife for forgiveness and everyone celebrates the happy outcome of the whole muddle.