Luigi Maggi’s Figaro

Le nozze di Figaro
R: Luigi Maggi. B: Pierre-Augustin Beaumarchais (play). D: Gigetta Morano, Eleuterio Rodolfi, Ernesto Vaser, Umberto Scalpellini, Ada Mantero. P: Società Anonima Ambrosio. It 1913
Print: Museo Nazionale del Cinema (Desmetcolor)

“‘The Marriage of Figaro’, comedy in five acts by Pierre-Augustin Beaumarchais, performed in 1784 as ‘La Folle Journée; ou, le mariage de Figaro’ (‘The Madness of a Day, or the Marriage of Figaro’). It is the sequel to his comic play The Barber ofand is the work upon which Mozart based the opera ‘Le nozze di Figaro’ (1786). ‘The Marriage of Figaro’ was written between 1775 and 1778. The play reverses the character of Count Almaviva from the romantic hero of ‘The Barber of Seville’ to an unscrupulous villain and is generally critical of aristocratic corruption, which it contrasts with lower-class virtue. In the previous play, Figaro, who is the Count’s loyal factotum, helped his master win the hand of Rosine (known as Rosina in the opera), now the Countess Almaviva. Figaro is betrothed to Suzanne, the Countess’s maid. Because Count Almaviva wants Suzanne as his mistress, he attempts to prevent the couple’s marriage. Suspicious of his master, Figaro sends the Count an anonymous letter informing him that the Countess has a lover. Various intrigues ensue, during which Suzanne and the Countess change places to deceive both the Count and Figaro. Eventually, Figaro learns that Suzanne has always been faithful to him. The Count admits his dishonourable intentions and gives his permission for Figaro and Suzanne to marry.”
The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica

“Although Beaumarchais did not invent the type character of the scheming valet (who has appeared in comedy as far back as Roman times), his Figaro, hero of both plays, became the highest expression of the type. The valet’s resourcefulness and cunning were portrayed by Beaumarchais with a definite class-conscious sympathy. ‘Le Barbier de Séville’ became the basis of a popular opera by the Italian composer Gioacchino Rossini. The second play, which inspired W.A. Mozart’s opera ‘Le nozze di Figaro’ (1786), is openly critical of aristocratic privilege and somewhat anticipates the social upheavals of the Revolution of 1789. Beaumarchais’s life rivals his work as a drama of controversy, adventure, and intrigue. The son of a watchmaker, he invented an escapement mechanism, and the question of its patent led to the first of many legal actions. For his defense in these suits he wrote a series of brilliant polemics (Mémoires), which made his reputation, though he was only partly successful at law. After 1773, because of his legal involvements, Beaumarchais left France on secret royal missions to England and Germany for both Louis XV and Louis XVI. Despite growing popularity as a dramatist, Beaumarchais was addicted to financial speculation. He bought arms for the American revolutionaries and brought out the first complete edition of the works of Voltaire. Of his dramatic works, only his two classic comedies were to have lasting success. Because of his wealth, he was imprisoned during the French Revolution (in 1792), but, through the intervention of a former mistress, he was released.”
The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica

505-Beaumarchais  Pierre-Augustin Beaumarchais

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