THE FIGARO YOU CAN NEVER HAVE ENOUGH OF
It is such a pity that opera audiences rarely do (can) demand an encore today, a repetition of an aria, duet, terzetto during the performance. Of course, what is a source of pleasure and entertainment for the audience is work and effort for the artists. I do understand the "busy world" and progressive "trade union" perspectives. Opera performances would indeed be never-ending.
In the age of Mozart, the repetition of arias, if loudly applauded, was customary. In May 1786, at the third performance of The Marriage of Figaro in Vienna, seven arias had to be repeated and the duet of Susanna and Cherubino had to be played three times. So Emperor Joseph II. issued an order, according to which a note had to be put on the entrance of the Burgtheater saying: “None of the pieces written for more than one voice will be repeated.” The people of course did not care much about such warnings. Figaro, parodying the privileges of the aristocracy, was even more “triumphant” in Prague, and Mozart enthusiastically wrote to his friend living in Vienna: “People started to dance contra-dances to the music of my Figaro (…) and were jumping around, blissfully rejoicing. Here people talk about nothing but Figaro, this is what they play, sing and whistle.”
Today we don’t jump and hop to the rhythm of Figaro. Though I would love to have put on the frilly dresses and danced on 15 February at the MÜPA, the Palace of Arts, at the concert of the Budapest Festival Orchestra, I would love to have been listening until the early hours to Figaro, directed and conducted by Iván Fischer and performed by a fantastic international cast. Oh, how wonderful it would have been to listen, again and again, to the arias and duets of German Hanno Müller-Bachmann (Figaro) and Roman Trekel (Count Almaviva), Romanian-American Laura Tatulescu (Susanna), Swedish Miah Persson (Countess Rosina) and Israeli Rachel Frenkel (Cherubino)!
The predecessor of the production was a huge success in 2009, Iván Fischer took the concept further and showed us once again that it takes only a few props (two doors, dresses, wigs, armchairs, a jimmy and keys) to stage a perfect production. According to the conductor, the protagonist of Figaro is the costume. “You can change clothes. From a man into a woman, from a woman into a man, from a countess into a maid, from a faithful wife into a mistress.” Iván Fischer himself joined the comedy with some grimaces and dishevelled wigs. Joyful music, magnificent musicians, wonderful singers and resourceful ideas on the stage – what else could we want? Nothing. But of this Figaro, you can never have enough.