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In order to make Le Nozze di Figaro appeal to the tastes of opera buffa audiences, Mozart and Da Ponte used familiar operatic conventions as well as clever, innovative musical techniques. The opera contained elements which would be familiar to many audiences, such as the use of stereotypical opera buffa characters, as well as the continuation of a plot from a previous successful opera, Il barbiere di Siviglia . Furthermore, Mozart used several inventive musical techniques to sustain the dramatic momentum all the way through the opera and ensure musical and dramatic continuity.To keep audiences interested, Mozart often used familiar concepts which the audience would recognize. For example, it is often the case in opera buffa that characters of higher classes would be depicted as foolish or even malicious, while lower class characters would occupy the audience’s attention and garner their sympathy. As Carter explains,“Susanna, the pert, cunning, yet virtuous maid, and Marcellina, the frustrated spinster, both belong among the conventional characters of mid-eighteenth-century opera buffa. For that matter, Figaro, the rebellious servant, and the Count, the lecherous nobleman, are also stereotypes. Thus all four need only brief introductions.”The stereotypical nature of the characters provided a degree of familiarity which would appeal to audiences. According to Hunter, “Normally subordinate characters occupy the center of attention and sympathy for considerable stretches of time (Susanna is a classic example).” In Nozze, Susanna is simply a servant, but she is portrayed as a protagonist. Hunter further claims that “There are many instances where the initial authority figure is deposed or in some way demoted. The most comm…

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…es one such instance: “Such repetition is often comic, as with the delightful ‘sua madre’/’suo padre’ passage of ‘Riconosci in questo amplesso’ (No. 18).”In summary, Mozart and Da Ponte created Le Nozze di Figaro knowing exactly what would appeal to the audience. The use of familiar concepts, coupled with the fast-paced, continuous nature of the opera ensured that audiences would be captivated. Mozart’s skill at pleasing audiences has ensured the lasting success of his operas, even to this day.

BibliographyCarter, Tim. W.A. Mozart: Le Nozze Di Figaro. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987.Heartz, Daniel. “Constructing ‘Le nozze di Figaro’.” Journal of the Royal Musical Association 112, no. 1 (1986-1987): 77-98.Hunter, Mary. The Culture of Opera Buffa in Mozart’s Vienna: A Poetics of Entertainment. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999.

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