Mozart: Political Subversive Overture to The Marriage of Figaro

– Stasov

If your mental image of Mozart equates with Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus, you’re way off the mark.  Mozart was a political subversive, a child of the Enlightenment, and a loyal freemason.

He was entirely educated by his father, Leopold.  The elder Mozart corresponded with leading philosophers, and was a respected musical pedagogue.  Little Mozart was a famous child star, an international celebrity of the keyboard starting at the age of 6.  To imagine his popularity, think of the fame of young Michael Jackson or Shirley Temple, except the child Mozart was a universally acknowledged musical genius.  He performed to audiences that included emperors, popes, and the nobility.

Mozart’s decision to set Beaumarchais’ notorious play The Marriage of Figaro to music created a scandal.  Banned by the Hapsburg Emperor Joseph II, Figaro was considered a major catalyst of the French Revolution.  The play ridicules the nobility in ways no one had yet dared, and made heroes out of the working class.  Mozart and his librettist, Lorenzo Da Ponte, managed to get around the censors, producing the greatest comic opera in history.  Its first performance was on May 1, 1786 in Vienna.

The overture is lively – a witty, carbonated delight.  Enjoy this little pick-me-up, with Ricardo Muti conducting the Wiener Philharmoniker.

Courtesy of  and YouTube

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