Thursday, April 3, 2008
A Folle Journée in the Life
We finished our section on Le Nozze di Figaro today in Music 101. There were some wonderful things in the production we watched on DVD, a live performance given in 1993 at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris, with John Eliot Gardiner conducting (the DVD is pictured above). I particularly loved the moment during "Pace, pace, mio dolce tesoro," the beginning of the Act IV Finale, in which Figaro confesses to Susanna that he knew her by her voice (a lovely conceit itself): Alison Hagley, as Susanna, sings "La mia voce?" ["My voice?"] in the smallest, sweetest pianissimo, giving the sense that Susanna is not only surprised, but touched, even overwhelmed, by the love Figaro has for her on their wedding night, at the close of a day of total madness, doubt, confusion and deceit.
My formerly ultra-Orthodox Jewish student suggested that Figaro was biblical. He related the exchanging of identities between the Countess and Susanna to Leah being exchanged for Rachel on Jacob's wedding day; the Count forcing Cherubino into the army to David sending Uriah, Bathsheba's husband, to the frontlines to be killed; and the moment in Act IV when the Count, thinking his wife to be his maid, gives her a ring as a token of his affection to the Genesis account of Judah and Tamar. I can't say I agree, but I found the notion intriguing.
In other Figaro news, I was suprised the other day to find my office-mate talking with a baritone whom she'd engaged to substitute-teach one of her voice classes. I recognized him as the Figaro from the long-ago production in which I sang with my good friend Soprannie. He didn't recognize me, I have a different last name now, and I was too shy to mention those far-off days, so we met one another as two anonymous voice-teaching adjuncts at a big public university.