The Marriage of Figaro: Reading List!

For Further Exploration

The Figaro Trilogy: The Barber of Seville, The Marriage of Figaro, The Guilty Mother (Oxford World’s Classics)
Figaro, one of opera’s most enduring characters, sprang from the imagination of French playwright Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais. Translated by David Coward, this volume includes source materials for the beloved operas by Rossini and Mozart.

Improbable Patriot
Not content with being a master watchmaker and plotter of plays, Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais conceived and carried out a plan to aid the rebellious American colonists in 1776. Harlow Giles Unger tells the fascinating life story of the man who brought us Figaro and friends.

The Mozart-Da Ponte Operas
Mozart wrote his three most enduring operas in collaboration with Lorenzo Da Ponte. Andrew Steptoe explores the cultural and social context in which they were written, the practicalities of opera production in the time, and the place the works hold in the creators’ artistic development.

The Librettist of Venice
Rodney Bolt tells the story of Lorenzo Da Ponte, “Mozart’s Poet, Casanova’s Friend, and Italian Opera’s Impresario in America.”

Mozart’s Operas
Daniel Heartz’s collection of essays offers several essays concerning The Marriage of Figaro, including “From Beaumarchais to Da Ponte: The Metamorphosis of Figaro,” “Setting the Stage for Figaro,” and “Constructing Le nozze di Figaro.”

The Operas of Mozart
William Mann gives each of Mozart’s operas a separate chapter in which he considers composition process, source material, and musical analysis, as well as biographical details.

Mozart in Vienna, 1781-1791
Herbert Braunbehrens’s account of Mozart’s final years considers the intellectual, political, economic, and cultural landscape in which the composer lived and worked.

A Timeless Mirror: Finding Ourselves within “The Marriage of Figaro”

WNO_16-17_MarriageofFigaro_620x349_v2From the playbill for The Marriage of Figaro

by Kelley Rourke, WNO Dramaturg

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Spoiler alert: No one dies in The Marriage of Figaro.

In an art form teeming with over-the-top offenders, the characters in The Marriage of Figaro seem slightly tame—more Downton Abbey than True Crime. But the lack of superheroes and supervillains is precisely what makes Mozart and Da Ponte’s comedy of manners so compelling. The emotional life of the household first imagined by the playwright Beaumarchais raises our ire, splits our sides, breaks our hearts, and sends us out of the theater with recognition of—and hope for—our shared humanity.

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Revolutionary Writers: Beaumarchais and Da Ponte

D'après Jean-Marc Nattier, Portrait de Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais (BMCF)

D’après Jean-Marc Nattier, Portrait de Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais (BMCF)

From the playbill for The Marriage of Figaro

by Kelley Rourke, WNO Dramaturg

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“Because you are a great lord, you believe that you are a great genius! You took the trouble to be born, no more. You remain an ordinary enough man!”

The social architecture of the 18th century put many obstacles in the path of an ambitious young man like Pierre Augustin Caron (1732–1799); at the same time, it served as the scaffolding for his climb. The playwright who gave us Figaro, the ultimate jack-of-all-trades, lived a life bursting with adventures and accomplishments, as did the Italian poet who would adapt his Le Mariage de Figaro into one of our most beloved operas.

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Ermonela Jaho | Meet the Artists

Soprano. Cio-Cio-San in Madame Butterfly.


Ermonela Jaho headshot 1

Ermonela was born in Albania, and is a graduate of Rome’s Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia.

This performance marks the talent’s WNO debut, although she has already wowed audiences around the world in the role of Cio-Cio-San—from London to Paris to Berlin.

A notable moment: Ermonela worked very hard to become an internationally acclaimed soprano. After entering a conservatory at 17, she was invited to study in Italy. At the end of her two-month study trip, Ermonela was determined to stay in Italy because it “is the home of bel canto,” and because Albania restricted her access to foreign operas. To continue pursuing her art—and to afford her new life in Italy—she became an au pair and lived in a hostel run by nuns.

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Arthur Woodley | Meet the Artists

Bass. Emile in Champion.


ARTHUR WOODLEY headshot 2

Arthur was born in New York City and raised in St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

He originated the role of Emile Griffith in the premiere of Champion at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis to critical acclaim.

Fun fact! Arthur traveled the world as a student of opera. After spending two years at New York City Community College, he moved to Bologna, Italy to study at Giovanni Battista Martini Conservatory. There, he sang in an Italian rock band on the side! After leaving Italy, Arthur returned to New York City to finish his studies at Mannes College of Music.

Arthur’s most notable roles include Porgy in Porgy and Bess, Varlaam in Boris Godunov, Bartolo in The Marriage of Figaro, Banquo in Macbeth, Rocco in Fidelio, and Dick Hallorann in the world premiere of The Shining, based on the novel by Stephen King.

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Aubrey Allicock | Meet the Artists

Bass-baritone. Young Emile in Champion.


Aubrey_Allicock_print

Aubrey grew up in Tuscon, Arizona and originally discovered singing at church. After high school, he attended Grand Canyon University for his undergraduate degree, Indiana University for graduate school, and was a member of The Juilliard School‘s Artist Diploma in Opera Studies program.

This performance is Aubrey’s WNO debut.

Aubrey spent over seasons with the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. His first part—while a member of the Gerdine Young Artist program—was as a customs official in La bohème. With each season, his roles grew and ranged from Zaretsky in Eugene Onegin to the Mad Hatter in the U.S. premiere of Alice in Wonderland.

Fun fact! In 2013, Aubrey originated the role of Young Emile at his beloved Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. The bass-baritone deeply connected with his character, saying, “I feel like the role was written for me.”

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Dimitri Pittas | Meet the Artists

Tenor. Pinkerton in Madame Butterfly.


Dimitri Pittas headshot

A native of Queens, New York, Dimitri is a graduate of The Metropolitan Opera‘s Lindemann Young Artist Development program.

This production marks Dimitri’s WNO debut as well as his debut in the role of Pinkerton.

Some of Dimitri’s most notable roles include Rodolfo in La bohème, Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet, Macduff in Macbeth, the title role in Don Carlo, and Nemorino in The Elixir of Love.

Fun fact! The life of an opera singer is unlike any other. It’s unpredictable and nonstop and exciting—and this story from Dimitri encapsulates it perfectly. This year, while preparing to travel to Virginia from South Carolina for Passover, Dimitri received a call asking him to replace an ill tenor in an Opera Philadelphia production of The Elixir of Love. Always ready for the stage, Dimitri was forced to forgo his family trip and travel to Philadelphia instead. With only days to rehearse before the premiere, Dimitri saved the day. 

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Brian Jagde | Meet the Artists

Tenor. Pinkerton in Madame Butterfly.


Brian Jagde headshot 1 by Ken Howard

Brian is a graduate of The Purchase College’s Conservatory of Music as well as the Adler Fellowship Program at San Francisco Opera.

While Brian has graced many stages—from the Royal Opera House to the Teatro San Carlo—this production marks his WNO debut.

Fun fact! Brian studied computer science and business in college for two years before deciding that singing was “the coolest thing I’ve ever done.” He was then accepted into music school as a tenor, but because of the colors of his voice and the training methods used by his instructors, it was decided he was a baritone. He studied and performed for ten years as a baritone before meeting with a tenor teacher. There Brian was told—officially—that he is, in fact, a tenor. 

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Susan Graham | Meet the Artists

Mezzo-soprano. Mrs. De Rocher in Dead Man Walking.


A TeCommission by Matthew Cosgrove @ Onyx Produced by Cat Gill White Label Productions Hair & Make up: Gemma Aldous @ Alchemyxas native, this Grammy Award winner is a graduate of Texas Tech University and the Manhattan School of Music.

When Dead Man Walking had its world premiere in San Francisco in 2000, Susan portrayed Sister Helen Prejean, the lead female role that was written especially for her. She returns to this new production from WNO to captivate audiences as Mrs. De Rocher, the mother of the death row inmate.

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Denyce Graves | Meet the Artists

Mezzo-soprano. Emelda Griffith in Champion.


A DDenyce Graves headshot.C. native, Denyce attended the Duke Ellington School of the Arts and was later awarded a scholarship to the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.

Denyce’s title roles in Carmen and Samson et Dalila have made her particularly well-known to opera audiences. In fact, the last time she appeared with WNO, she played the beloved and timeless Carmen. For Champion, she reprises her role as the mother of boxing legend Emile Griffith, following the opera’s world premiere at the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. 

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