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Figaro Unbound

Figaro Unbound

Figaro Unbound

Figaro Unbound

Figaro Unbound:
Culture, Power and Revolution at Play

From February 7 through April 12, 2015, LA Opera will produce three operas inspired by the works of the French playwright Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais (1732-1799). Beaumarchais was a man of many talents: a playwright, watchmaker, inventor, musician, diplomat, fugitive, spy, publisher, horticulturalist, arms dealer, satirist, financier and revolutionary (both French and American). His trilogy of Figaro plays—Le Barbier de Séville (1775), Le Mariage de Figaro (1784) and La Mère Coupable (1792)—captured staggering changes in social attitudes of the late 18th century. These plays and their characters have been subsequently adapted into operas (some more succesful than others) by Paisiello, Salieri, Massenet and Milhaud to name a few.

LA Opera’s programming of the "Figaro Trilogy"—John Corigliano's The Ghosts of Versailles, Rossini's The Barber of Seville and Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro—within the 2014/15 season will immerse audiences in the world of Figaro, a fictional character who created a sensation in the years leading up to the French Revolution. The lasting legacy of the free-thinking barber will be explored in Figaro Unbound, a three-month celebration of the revolutionary spirit. With a variety of programming for all ages, Figaro Unbound will investigate the ongoing relevance of Figaro and the Beaumarchais trilogy, as well as how the arts can impact social change. There will be performances of alternate musical adaptations of Figaro’s story and a number of opportunities to examine his lasting influence on American political and cultural life.

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The Figaro Trilogy

Originally told in three stage comedies by French playwright Beaumarchais, the adventures of Figaro have captivated generations of music lovers. The famous operatic adaptations by Rossini and Mozart of the first two plays—The Barber of Seville and The Marriage of Figaro—have long been among the most popular works in the entire repertoire. The final chapter of the story is retold in The Ghosts of Versailles by John Corigliano, who incorporated the major plot elements of the third play ("The Guilty Mother") into his opera. LA Opera’s presentation of all three of these operas during the 2014/15 season gives the audience the rare opportunity to follow what happens to Figaro, Count Almaviva and Rosina over the course of more than two decades.

As a compliment to Figaro Unbound, LA Opera offers a special Design-Your-Own (DYO) package featuring all three Figaro operas.

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The Ghosts of VersailleS  (feb 7 - mar 1)

Trapped in the spirit world, the ghost of Marie Antoinette bitterly reflects on her final suffering. Her favorite playwright tries to entertain the melancholy queen with the continuing adventures of his beloved characters from The Barber of Seville and The Marriage of Figaro. But sneaky Figaro refuses to play by the script, breaking free from the opera-within-the-opera in a surprise bid for a better life.

The Barber of Seville  (feb 28 - mar 22)

Dashing Count Almaviva has lost his heart to the spunky Rosina, whose doddering guardian is determined to marry her himself. It’s Figaro to the rescue, as the resourceful barber conjures up wacky schemes and strategies to unite the young lovers.

The Marriage of Figaro  (mar 21 - apr 12)

Change is in the air and Figaro’s world is turning upside down. On the eve of the wily barber’s marriage to Susanna, Count Almaviva’s wandering eye has landed on the lovely bride-to-be. Servant and master go head to head, and even the Countess herself must spring into battle when she learns of her husband’s plans. Or is she embroiled in a liaison of her own?

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Figaro Unbound will feature a variety of programming for all ages, celebrating the revolutionary spirit. This list will be updated as events and activities are added.

February 7 through March 1
The Ghosts of Versailles

LA Opera proudly presents the first full-scale production in this century of John Corigliano’s grand opera buffa, one of the most acclaimed operas of our time. Extravagantly scaled, gloriously tuneful, supremely touching and yet uproariously entertaining, The Ghosts of Versailles turns history on its head as love attempts to alter the course of destiny.

Venue: Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Information:
www.LAOpera.org  or 213.972.8001

March 1 through May 10
Figaro
(by Charles Morey, freely adapted from the Beaumarchais play The Marriage of Figaro)
Foreshadowing the French Revolution with its denunciation of aristocratic privilege, Beaumarchais' sequel to The Barber of Seville was banned from performance by Louis XVI. When the king finally lifted the ban in 1784, the play became enormously popular, even with aristocratic audiences. 

As part of its "revolutionary"-themed 2014/15 season, the Pasadena-based A Noise Within, the area's premiere theater company dedicated to classic works, will enable audiences to enjoy a fresh and playful new adaptation of Beaumarchais' timeless comedy, performed by an outstanding resident company.

Venue: A Noise Within, 3352 E Foothill Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91107
Information:
www.ANoiseWithin.org  or 626.356.3100

March 8 through March 22
The Barber of Seville

Dashing Count Almaviva has lost his heart to the spunky Rosina, whose doddering guardian is determined to marry her himself. It’s Figaro to the rescue, as the resourceful barber conjures up wacky schemes and strategies to unite the young lovers. A topnotch cast sails through the score’s bel canto glories, thrilling the audience as characters that are just as vivid today as when they first took the stage. Rossini’s razor-sharp musical wit glints through every scene of this delicious comedy, one of the most playful and popular in the entire operatic repertoire.

Venue: Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Information:
www.LAOpera.org  or 213.972.8001

March 21 through April 12
The Marriage of Figaro

Change is in the air and Figaro’s world is turning upside down. On the eve of the wily barber’s marriage to Susanna, Count Almaviva’s wandering eye has landed on the lovely bride-to-be. Servant and master go head to head, and even the Countess herself must spring into battle when she learns of her husband’s plans. Or is she embroiled in a liaison of her own? From the breathless opening notes of the overture to the touching final curtain, Mozart’s comic masterpiece brilliantly bucks the conventions of his time to deliver an ageless message of love and forgiveness.

Venue: Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Information:
www.LAOpera.org  or 213.972.8001

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Pierre Beaumarchais

Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais was born in Paris in 1732, the son of a watchmaker. He became a watchmaker himself, and at the age of 19 invented an escapement mechanism still used in watches today.

In 1756, at 24, Beaumarchais married a rich widow who died a year later. He found himself with a fortune—the first of several he made and then lost.

Musically talented, he became harp teacher to the daughters of Louis XV in 1759. For two years (1764-65), he lived in Madrid. On his return to France, he began his career as a playwright. The Barber of Seville was written in 1770, but not presented on the stage until five years later.

Meanwhile Beaumarchais became an overnight literary success with the publication of his Memoires (1773-74). At the same time he served as a secret agent on behalf of the king. In 1775, The Barber of Seville was produced for the public and increased his fame.

The Frenchman became interested in the American Revolution and aided the revolutionary cause by organizing funds, arms, supplies and ships.

Between 1779 and 1780, he wrote a sequel to The Barber of Seville, called The Marriage of Figaro, which presents the Count and Rosina—who is now the Countess Almaviva—after several years of married life. This comedy mocked the privileged classes with great humor. The first performance was delayed until 1784 because of royal opposition.

After the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789, Beaumarchais became involved in political struggles which eventually forced him to flee the country in 1792 and put his family, which remained behind, in terrible danger during the most violent period of the Revolution.

Beaumarchais' great comedies were not only wildly successful, they also fueled the fires of revolution which were sweeping Europe at that time. He returned to Paris in 1796 and died there in 1799.

timeline

1732 – Born in Paris on January 24

1742 – Becomes apprentice to his watchmaker father

1753 – Invents escapement and revolutionizes watch making

1759 – Appointed harp teacher to the daughters of Louis XV

1764 – Travels to Spain in search of business opportunities with the new Spanish colony of Louisiana, which will influence his writing

1765 – Returns to France in March 1765 and becomes a playwright

1767 – His first dramatic play, Eugénie, premieres

1773 – Beaumarchais publishes his Memoires detailing his arguments in court and becomes an instant celebrity

1775 – The Barber of Seville premieres

1777 – British troops surrender at Saratoga to a rebel force largely clothed and armed by the supplies sent by Beaumarchais

1781 – The Marriage of Figaro is completed, but is banned by Louis XVI

1783 – Beaumarchais publishes the first of a series of Voltaire’s later works, preserving them for future generations

1784 – The ban on The Marriage of Figaro is lifted and performances of the play become wildly popular

1797 – First performances of The Guilty Mother

1799 – Beaumarchais dies in Paris

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