And with just one more number, we arrive to the end of the first act. And a puzzling number it is. What the hell is this song doing here? It has a great tune, but it doesn’t advance the action, it doesn’t introduce a character, it’s just a vaguely military sounding march.
(cue La Marseilles)
Figaro is speaking in this song about ensnaring an amourous butterfly within a net of war? Technically, he’s singing to Cherubino. But is it just to Cherubino, newly "honored" by the Count with an army commission so that the Count can get him out of the castle? Is it to Susanna, the amorous butterfly whom Figaro's about to ensnare in the net of marriage? Or is it the Count himself, whose amorous exploits, like so many noblemen of his generation, may yet lead his head to the guillotine?
Mozart himself could have lost his head if he wrote anything that incited an uprising. But no matter what Mozart wrote, revolution was imminent, a revolution which the aristocracy did everything to forestall, including the censorship of this opera. Mozart and his librettist, Lorenzo Da Ponte, could not include anything in this play which contained even a hint of class warfare. But the play upon which this opera's based contains sentiments so revolutionary that a general named Napoleon Bonaparte would soon call it the French Revolution on the page,... (cut off La Marseilles)
...waiting for a bloodthirsty public to put it into action.
(cue Non Piu Andrai)