Le nozze di Figaro

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791)

Information on the piece

Commedia per musica in 4 acts
Libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte
First performed on 1st May, 1786 in Vienna
Premiered at the Deutsche Oper Berlin on 14th December, 1978

3 hrs 45 mins / 1 interval

In Italian with German and English surtitles

45 minutes before beginning: Introduction in German language

recommended from 13 years
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About the performance

About the work
Figaro and Susanna, servants at the court of Count Almaviva, are soon to marry and are furnishing the lodgings that they’ve been allotted in the Count’s castle. Figaro is gleefully taking measurements for the conjugal bed, but Susanna is worried: the Count’s passion for his wife has long since cooled, meaning that he might invoke his “right to the first night”. Figaro is determined that it won’t come to that, but another issue is plaguing him too: before lending him a sum of money, Marcellina, the Count’s housekeeper had wrung from him a pledge to marry her if he defaulted, and that time has now come. To complicate matters, in the Countess’s chambers Susanna is asked by the Count’s page, Cherubino, to put in a word for him because he’s been fired for a dalliance with Barbarina, the Count’s gardener’s daughter. The Count enters suddenly and tries to negotiate a tryst with Susanna, forcing Cherubino to hide, whereupon Basilio the music teacher arrives, and finally Figaro. The situation heats up and the only person to keep a handle on things is Susanna.

The Count reluctantly agrees not to put a spanner in the marital works, while still secretly hoping to have his way with Susanna. The Countess is bemoaning her husband’s lack of affection. Figaro and Susanna suggest a scheme that might help her: they will incite him to jealousy and then embarrass him into the bargain. But since everyone is pulling in different directions, the plan goes awry, endangering the youngsters’ love affair as well as the marriage of the Count and Countess. Following a string of incidents and a chaotic evening gathering, all are reconciled, chastened and – perhaps – a little wiser.

THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO - Mozart’s first collaboration with Lorenzo da Ponte, who would also serve as librettist for DON GIOVANNI and COSÌ FAN TUTTE – is based on “La folle journée, ou Le Marriage de Figaro” [1783/84] by Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais, a French comedy, controversial and topical in equal measure. A comedy about two betrothed domestic servants who stand up to their employers and prevail in the end was a shock to people of gentle birth in the pre-Revolutionary Paris of the early 1780s. Astonishing, then, that da Ponte managed to have the opera staged at the Viennese court, which had zero interest in hosting such an insolent work at a local venue. Mozart and da Ponte tinkered with the storyline, took the edge off the threat posed by the characters to society and moulded the dramaturgy to fit the parameters of musical theatre, albeit without drawing the teeth of the work it was based on. The result was one of the supreme achievements in the history of comic opera. The human nature depicted is timeless, the story clever and packed with unexpected twists. And the overwhelming richness of the score enlivens each individual character in their self-perception and their relationship to the others.

About the production
Götz Friedrich’s production sticks to Mozart’s directions, demonstrating his psychological acuity and his sense of the absurd and the comic as the action spirals to a head. He also reveals his grasp of human imperfection, which Mozart, in a veiled manner but always with critical analysis, brings home to audiences.

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Adventskalender im Foyer: Das 4. Fensterchen

African American Spirituals
with Christian Simmons and John Parr
5.00 p.m. / Rang-Foyer right
Duration: approx. 25 minutes / admission free

In Germany, it is still little known today that, parallel to the development of the European song, the spiritual in the USA looks back on a tradition that goes back to the 17th century. Created during the oppression of slavery as songs of labour, freedom, play, lamentation, celebration or lullabies, African-American spirituals form the starting point for gospel, blues and ultimately also for jazz, R&B and African-American music in general. Spirituals are characterised by their rhythmic finesse, which includes counter-rhythms, polyrhythms and syncopation. The tonality is characterised by microtonality, pentatonic scales and the varied use of the singing voice. All these elements suggest that the influences of African music, as brought to America by slaves, have survived over the centuries, mostly passed down orally, to this day.

The bass-baritone Christian Simmons, originally from Washington D.C., was a member of the Cafritz Young Artists of the Washington National Opera in the 2022/23 season and joined the ensemble of the Deutsche Oper Berlin as a scholarship holder of the Opera Foundation New York in the 2023/24 season. Over the course of the season, he will appear in roles such as Lord Rochefort / ANNA BOLENA, 2nd Harnischter / DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE, Pinellino / GIANNI SCHICCHI, Brabantischer Edler / LOHENGRIN, Oberpriester des Baal / NABUCCO and Sciarrone / TOSCA. Simmons is the district winner of the Metropolitan Opera's 2022/23 Eric and Dominique Laffont Competition, winner of the 2017 Harlem Opera Theater Vocal Competition, winner of the 2016 National Association of Teaching Singing (NATS) Regional Competition, and an Honorary Life Member of the Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts (CAAPA). A graduate of Morgan State University and the Maryland Opera Studio, Simmons is a member of the nation's first and largest music fraternity, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity of America.

John Parr was born in Birmingham in 1955 and studied at Manchester University and at the Royal Northern College of Music with Sulamita Aronovsky. He won prizes as a solo pianist at international competitions in Barcelona and Vercelli and was a member of Yehudi Menuhin's "Live Music Now". From 1985 to 1988 he was a guest repetiteur at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden and worked for the Scottish Opera in Glasgow from 1989 to 1991. He came to Germany in 1991 and was Head of Studies and Musical Assistant to the General Music Director in Hanover. In 2000, Pamela Rosenberg and Donald Runnicles brought him to San Francisco Opera as Head of Music Staff. From 2002 to 2005, he was musical assistant at the Bayreuth Festival. From 2011 to 2014, he was casting director and assistant to the general music director at the Staatstheater Karlsruhe. Since August 2014, John Parr has been working at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, initially as Head of Studies and since 2018 as Head Coach.