Saturday, April 24, 2010

What A Farce!

Figaro and Susanna are in love and about to wed.

Count Almaviva has the hots for Susanna.

Marcelline has the hots for Figaro.

Cherubino has the hots for the Countess.

Barbarina has the hots for Cherubino.

The Count & Marcelline conspire to thrwat Figaro & Susanna's wedding.

The Countess, Figaro & Susanna conspire to have the Count's affection return back to the Countess.

Bartolo ends up marrying Marcelline.

Add into the mix: love notes, tools to break down doors, jumping out of a window, dancing the fandango, mistaken identities and secret rendez-vous' in the cover of night.

So much happens in La Folle Journée! (or The Marriage of Figaro)

Watching the Figaro dress rehearsal Thursday night, I was reminded of none other than watching Three's Company when I was growing up. The funny thing was that the 3 other people I spoke with that night said the same exact thing. (even the Opera Ninja!)

But how could this be?

With misunderstandings aplenty, plots being hatched (nudge-nudge-wink-wink), the underdog hoodwinking the topdog, slapstick hijinks and a parade of characters, The Marriage of Figaro was indeed a pre-cursor to comedies like Three's Company.

Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais, the author of The Marriage of Figaro which Mozart based his opera on, was a master at writing farce; in particular, taking jabs at the aristocracy. He liked the Figaro character so much, Beaumarchais weaved him into 3 stories: The Barber of Seville, The Marriage of Figaro and The Guilty Mother.

Beaumarchais' characters were vain, irrational and neurotic. They spoke witty repartee while being engaged in highly improbable situations. Such comedy of errors moved at a frantic pace, involving innuendos, misunderstandings and physical humour. However ridiculous the plot was, the story always finished with a happy ending. A present wrapped up in a bow.

Not unlike some of the half hour comedies you see today.

Pierre Beaumarchais and John Ritter: they may have been 200 years apart, but both men were considered kings of comedy gold in their days.

~ Ling Chan

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