Le nozze di Figaro, ossia la folle giornata (The Marriage of Figaro, or the Day of Madness), K. 492, is an opera buffa ic opera) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, with Italian libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte, based on a stageedy by Pierre Beaumarchais, La folle journée, ou le Mariage de Figaro (1784).Although the play by Beaumarchais was at first banned in Vienna because of its satire of the aristocracy, considered dangerous in the decade before the French Revolution, the opera became one of Mozart's most sessful works. The overture is especially famous and is often played as a concert piece. The musical material of the overture is not used later in the work, aside from two brief phrases during the Count's part in the terzetto Cosa sento! in act 1.CompositionThe opera was the first of three collaborations between Mozart and Da Ponte; their later collaborations were Don Giovanni and Così fan tutte. It was Mozart who originally selected Beaumarchais' play and brought it to Da Ponte, who turned it into a libretto in six weeks, rewriting it in poetic Italian and removing all of the original's political references. In particular, Da Ponte replaced Figaro's climactic speech against inherited nobility with an equally angry aria against unfaithful wives. Contrary to the popular myth, the libretto was approved by the Emperor, Joseph II, before any music was written by Mozart.The Imperial Italian operapany paid Mozart 450 florins for the work; this was three times his (low) salary for a year, when he had worked as a court musician in Salzburg (Solomon 1995). Da Ponte was paid 200 florins.Emperor Joseph II was indirectly responsible for preserving this magnificent opera score for posterity. Joseph II was looking for an opera to be produced at the imperial court. Mozart's work was one of the works under consideration, along with several others by contemporaryposers. With the scant sess Mozart had received to that point, he reportedly swore that if his work was passed over, he would toss the entire score into the fire.Musical styleIn spite of all the sorrow, anxiety, and anger the characters experience, only one number is in a minor key: Barbarina's brief aria L'ho perduta at the beginning of act 4, where she mourns the loss of the pin and worries about what her master will say when she fails to deliver it, is written in F minor. Other than this the entire opera is set in major keys. Mozart uses the sound of two horns playing together to represent cuckoldry, in the Act 4 aria Aprite un po quelli'ochi. Verdi later used the same device in Ford's aria in Falstaff. Critical discussion Lorenzo Da Ponte wrote a preface to the first published version of the libretto, in which he boldly claimed that he and Mozart had created a new form of music drama:"In spite … of every effort … to be brief, the opera will not be one of the shortest to have appeared on our stage, for which we hope sufficient excuse will be found in the variety of threads from which the action of this play [i.e. Beaumarchais's] is woven, the vastness and grandeur of the same, the multiplicity of the musical numbers that had to be made in order not to leave the actors too long unemployed, to diminish the vexation and monotony of long recitatives, and to express with varied colours the various emotions that ur, but above all in our desire to offer as it were a new kind of spectacle to a public of so refined a taste and understanding." Charles Rosen (in The Classical Style) proposes to take Da Ponte's words quite seriously, noting the "richness of the ensemble writing", which carries forward the action in a far more dramatic way than recitatives would. Rosen also suggests that the musical language of the classical style was adapted by Mozart to convey the drama: many sections of the opera musically resemble sonata form; by movement through a sequence of keys, they build up and resolve musical tension, providing a natural musical reflection of the drama. As Rosen says:"The synthesis of eleratingplexity and symmetrical resolution which was at the heart of Mozart's style enabled him to find a musical equivalent for the great stage works which were his dramatic models. The Marriage of Figaro in Mozart's version is the dramatic equal, and in many respects the superior, of Beaumarchais's work.