(cue piano playing - Ein Madchen oder Weibchen, preferably the Zemlinsky 4-hand Piano Version - narrator comes in after the first statement of the theme)
Before Amadeus was a movie, it was a play. And its writer, Peter Shaffer, wrote a particularly wonderful line that didn’t make it into the movie when Mozart declared that by composing Figaro, he would create an opera so real that you could smell the shit from the chamber pot. And even if everything was fun and games until about forty-five seconds ago, reality has just hit us with the shock of a perfectly placed fart. Here are two lovers on the morning of their wedding, living a veritable Eden of perfect bliss. But reality has its ways of intruding on our dreams, perhaps especially so on a wedding day, .
Their names are Figaro and Susanna, and you’ll get to know them quite well tonight. In fact, you already know them. Figaro and Susanna are us all - doing their best to stay happy when life does everything it can to beat them down, living by their wits while other people live fat off their best labor.
They’re domestics in a nobleman’s manor - a sort of Anna and Mr. Bates of the 18th century. Their boss, Count Almaviva, gave them the most convenient room in his castle, and Figaro seems quite eager to live in this room which has the Count living on one side, the Countess on the other. It makes work convenient for them, a little too convenient as you can see. Three years ago, when Figaro helped the Count win his wife as a bride, the Count was so thrilled that he abolished his right to Prima Noctis - the nobleman’s right to deflower any commoner who lives on his property before her husband may receive her. You can find a deeper explanation of this concept in the movie, Braveheart. But upon discovering that marriage isn’t an endless font of romance and guilt-free sex, his interests begin lie elsewhere.
The Count promised a dowry for Figaro and Susanna’s marriage, but through an intermediary whom we’ll meet in a few minutes, the Count explains to Susanna that the dowry was not simply a gift to be rendered without a reciprocal service. The question remains for them, how can Figaro keep Susanna untouched by that dirty prick and still get his money?
(go directly into Bravo, Signor Padrone, recitative)