Sunday, January 23, 2011

Mozart Week: Le Nozze di Figaro Act I: Via, resti servita

In this comical scene between the servant Susanna and the noblewoman Marcellina, we see the classical tension between the servant working class and the nobility. To say that Mozart and da Ponte removed the "politics" from Le Nozze di Figaro is a fallacy. Figaro is chocked full of the revolutionary politics of the time with the Count's servants working to outwit him and undo his plans at every turn.

Notice the slurs in the violins that sound like cats "meowing", indicating the "cat fight" that breaks out between them.

Marcellina (curtsying): To greet you, my lady, I'm honored supremely.
Susanna (curtsying): By your recognition I'm flattered extremely.
Marcellina (curtsying): Please enter before me.
Susanna (curtsying): No, no, you go first!
Marcellina: I beg you, ignore me!
Susanna (mocking): Your noble position, fine and patrician, inspires respect.
Marcellina (mocking): I know my position, bow to tradition, fine and patrician, with all due respect.
Marcellina: The bride of the hour!
Susanna: A lady of station!
Marcellina: The Count's little bella!
Susanna: The pride of the nation!
Marcellina: Her attitude!
Susanna: Dignified!
Marcellina: Her posture!
Susanna: Your age!
Marcellina: I swear I shall fly at her in one minute more!
Susanna (aside) Decrepit old battle ax, I'll settle your score.
Marcellina: I praise your deportment without reservation.
Susanna: And I, your experience and broad reputation!
Marcellina: So young and so pretty!
Susanna: The belle of the city!
Marcellina: What distance between us!
Susanna: The true Spanish Venus!
Marcellina: So innocent!
Susanna: Durable!
Marcellina: So simple!
Susanna: So old!
Marcellina: How dare she make fun of me, it is a disgrace!

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