WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART, Overture to the Marriage of Figaro, K492- RHS Music Appreciation


The Marriage of Figaro is an opera buffa (comic opera) and a love story with many twists and turns that occur in one crazy day of madness. In other words, an 18th Century "Chick Flick." Mozart (Jan. 27, 1756 - Dec. 5, 1791) composed this work in 1786. The four-act opera, with Italian libretto (words) by Lorenzo da Ponte, was based on a comedic play by Pierre Beaumarchais. That play was banned in Vienna because of its satire (making fun) of the aristocracy. So it can also be compared to an episode of Saturday Night Live where an actor makes fun of the President, for example. This mockery of the aristocracy was considered dangerous in the decade before the French Revolution! Beaumarchais also helped secure French support for the American colonists during the American Revolutionary war.

Mozart set the words to music in about six months, while also completing two symphonies and several string quartets and piano concertos. This opera became one of Mozart's most successful works. The overture is especially famous and is often played as a concert piece by itself.

You must be able to answer the following questions:
What is the role of an opera overture?

What specifically makes this piece a good example of music from the Classical Era?

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