Melodic Siblings: Mozart’s “Dove Sono” and the “Coronation Mass”

It’s one of Mozart’s most serenely beautiful melodies, evoking quiet dignity, nostalgia, and underlying sadness. “Dove sono i bei momenti” is sung by the Countess in Act III of Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro). Amid all of the craziness, scheming, and entanglements of this whirlwind “day of madness,” she pauses to lament her circumstances—loneliness, betrayal, and humiliation as a result of her husband’s serial infidelity. In the shifting stream of consciousness …

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Remembering Soprano Heather Harper

The British operatic soprano Heather Harper passed away on Monday at the age of 88. Born in Belfast, Harper came to international attention when she stepped in at ten days notice for the world premiere of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem at Coventry Cathedral in 1962. (Galina Vishnevskaya, for whom the part was written, was denied permission by Soviet authorities on the grounds that Britten’s work was too “political.”) Harper went on to perform …

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The Marriage of Figaro’s Act II Finale: Mozart’s Dramatic “Tour de Force”

In his book, The Classical Style: Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Charles Rosen points out the amazing compositional feat that occurs at the end of the second act of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro. Citing its length (four acts) and “moral gravity,” Rosen considers The Marriage of Figaro to be Mozart’s first great “fusion” of opera buffe (or comic opera) with the dramatic weight and sophistication of opera seria: Mozart’s ability to define character by purely musical means, to write for each of the three sopranos (the Countess, …

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Mozart and the Spirit of Figaro

In the aria “Non più andrai, farfallone amoroso” (“You shall frolic no more”), from the first act of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, Figaro teases Cherubino about the abrupt end of his carefree, flirtatious life at the palace. The Count is concerned that Cherubino has developed a fondness for the Countess and has banished him to distant military service. One of the most memorable passages in this jovial aria is this ascending arpeggio motive. It’s a …

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A Snapshot of Figaro

Last month we listened to an excerpt from Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s great new live concert recording of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. Here are a few more highlights from that recording. Almost all of Mozart’s music grows out of opera. Passages from the symphonies and concertos can be heard as wordless arias and duets. It’s as if Mozart couldn’t shut off the stream of characters and vague hints of far-off dramatic …

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New Release: Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s Marriage of Figaro

Today marks an exciting and long-anticipated release in the world of opera: conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s brand new live concert recording of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and an all-star cast. Nézet-Séguin was recently named successor to James Levine at the Metropolitan Opera, perhaps the most visible opera post in the world. This disk, recorded live at the 2,500-seat Baden-Baden Festspielhaus, is the latest in a series of Mozart operas Nézet-Séguin has released on the Deutsche Grammophon label. …

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Mozart’s 259th Birthday

  Tomorrow marks the 259th anniversary of Mozart’s birth. If you’re looking for an exciting way to celebrate, consider picking up a copy of Rachel Barton Pine’s newly-released Mozart recording. The CD features all five Mozart Violin Concertos and the Sinfonia Concertante. Barton Pine is accompanied by Sir Neville Marriner and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. Her infectious enthusiasm for the music is apparent in this informational clip. Born in Chicago in …

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