Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro at the Estates Theatre

The classic opera is directed by a woman for the first time in National Theatre history

Mozart is closely associated with Prague, despite visiting just a handful of times. His operas remain popular, and several are always in the repertoire of the city’s opera companies. Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro) premiered earlier in February with a new staging at the Estates Theatre.

The next performances are Feb. 16 and 28, with further shows are scheduled through June. It is presented in the original Italian version with English and Czech surtitles.

Most people who have been in Prague even for a short tour know that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart conducted the world premiere of Don Giovanni at the same theater in 1787. The theater is the only one left in the world where Mozart conducted one of his operas.

Le nozze di Figaro premiered a year earlier in Vienna, and its success led to Mozart being asked to write Don Giovanni with the same libretto author, Lorenzo Da Ponte.

The new staging is Le nozze di Figaro is a bit different than the previous ones. Magdalena Švecová is the very first woman in the history of the National Theatre to direct a production of the work, She brings a female point of view to the classic themes of love, infidelity, and jealousy.

This is the 20th staging of the popular opera by the National Theatre Opera.

She has approached the work with the utmost respect, she said in press release. “I haven't transferred the action to another time or milieu, our production will feature Rococo costumes, the stage will be lit by candles. We will employ all the means of Baroque theater, yet we will try to imbue it with a sort of dreamy aspect, which will afford us the opportunity to apply a certain stylization, as opera as a genre directly incites one to depict emotions,” she said.

“We have opted for ‘live classic.’ One of the major facets of our adaptation is work with space — the story will take place in a symbolical greenhouse, in which the characters are enclosed. That is perhaps why the emotions and passions among them boil more fervently," she added. She has staged operas in Plzeň and Brno, and collaborated on the production of Puccini’s La bohème at the State Opera in Prague.

Costume designer Kateřina Štefková has drawn inspiration from the Rococo style but her costumes have a great sense of detail and originality. She has made costumes for other National Theatre operas including Smetana’s The Brandenburgers in Bohemia (1997), Philip Glass’ Les enfants terribles (2011), Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen (2014) and Kašlík’s Krakatit (2017).

The mime artist and performer Tomsa Legierski supervised the singers' movement. Lighting designer Přemysl Janda relied on candles and other sources to get the period feel.

Musical preparation is by Enrico Dovico, who also conducts the National Theatre’s productions of La traviata and Turnadot.

Le nozze di Figaro is an opera buffa based on Pierre Beaumarchais's comedy La Folle Journée, ou Le Mariage de Figaro. It depicts a mad day in the life of the servant Figaro and his beloved Susanna, the philandering Count Almaviva and his spouse.

The new adaptation of Le nozze di Figaro is the second part of a Mozart triptych at the Estates Theatre in the 2017/18 season. The first was a performance of Don Giovanni, conducted by Plácido Domingo in October 2017. A concert version of La clemenza di Tito, under the baton of Marc Miknowski, will be presented in May.

In January 2019, the National Theatre Opera company is scheduled to perform Le nozze di Figaro within a tour of Japan.

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