Friday, February 27, 2009

Padfoot - Fourth Review - The Barber of Seville & The Marriage of Figaro; "Or the Story of How I Laughed Until I Stopped"

The Barber of Seville and The Marriage of Figaro
Piere Beaumarchais

Although I have never been to a performance of an opera (a good conclusion is because I am not nearly classy enough, although I do love to think that I am) I've always had a love for opera music; especially the song "Figaro, Figaro!" or, "Largo Al Factotum" from The Barber of Seville. Just think back to Mrs. Doubtfire-at the beginning when Robin Williams is singing as a cartoon bird-oh yes you know it-that is the song. The same song of which I happen to love singing very loudly in the shower (you know that one too? Creepy).

I found the original version of
The Barber of Seville/The Marriage of Figaro by Piere Beaumarchais translated by John Woods, as a wonderful old copy, in my nearest Half Price Books. I love reading plays rather than seeing them, so I figured I'd give it a go. But as usual I digress, here's my thoughts:

One thing is certain about The Barber of Seville: it is a very quick-read that I enjoyed from beginning to end. It starts off with Count Almaviva, who is in love with a woman named Rosine, who he really has never even met, he's just seen her from a distance (but it's 18th century Spain, so hey, it's normal). The problem is, Rosine has a creepy "guardian" who really wants to marry her. Well, The Count calls upon his "wingman" Figaro to help him win the love of Rosine, and to steal her away from Bartholo, the guardian:
"Look! I'm going in there-- and with one stroke of my
wand I'll lull vigilance to sleep, awake the transports of love,
thwart the machinations of jealousy, confound base
intrigue, and overcome every obstacle that confronts us."
Madness ensues! The Count decides to disguise himself as a drunken soldier and here it comes-wit! Although I am sounding sarcastic as always, it is surprisingly true. Beaumarchais has thrown in an immense amount of irony and wit into this dramatic story. Beware: be ready to encounter lots of enjoyable irony; the lighthearted feel of the story while the whole story is one big dramatic soap opera is an example.

s you move on to The Marriage of Figaro, which is another story in itself after The Barber of Seville, you begin to see mirror situations of what happened in the first story. It is actually quite humorous, especially since we see role reversals of complete opposite characters. All the while, Figaro reminds you of a corny, smooth-talking, typical jumping-on-tables-to-recite-Shakespeare kind of guy, but you cannot help but love him.

I will give you five words/phrases to judge the book off of, just in case my review does not strike you in the cerebellum: Cross-dressing, pranks, damaging of garden
s, foul-play, tom-foolery.

Now you have to read it!!!


  1. Sounds really interesting especially when you said, "the lighthearted feel of the story while the whole story is one big dramatic soap opera is an example."

    Very opera to me lol!

  2. Never in a million years would I think to read this (me don't think I smart enough) but I love the modern and fun spin you put on your review and you made me interested. (Well, maybe ... I probably won't really read it but I loved reading your thoughts about it.) : )

  3. Whoa wait, I think I saw this one earlier when I was in the bookstore but I was having second thoughts as I'm not sure if it really is the same book lol. I ended up buying Aravind Adiga's White Tiger.

  4. this is such a great blog - I'm so glad I found you!

  5. My first opera was "The Marriage of Figaro" by W.A. Mozart. I am definitely going to read the novels now that I saw your review. I highly recommend the opera to all opera novices. It's light, funny, incredibly beautiful music, and highly accessible to most audiences. I still smile every time I hear the opening notes of the overture, and the truth is, no heavy duty opera whether it be "Lohengrin" or "Doctor Atomic" can make me feel so singularly happy to be alive as Mozart's gem.

  6. Thanks everyone! Yea I definitely enjoyed it...and it makes me want to see the opera even more now!!!

  7. I have played Cherubino in "The Marriage of Figaro" and read all three of Beaumarchais' plays on the topic in the original French. I encourage you to check out the operas; they're highly comic and lighthearted and meant to appeal to the average 18th-century viewer (in other words, not too sophisticated). If you don't want to dress up, you can always rent them on DVD!

    I'm glad to see Beaumarchais still attracts fans!

  8. Oh wow that's really cool...I love Cherubino!!
    Maybe I will rent the dvd since I have no time/money for an actual performance haha.


You solemnly swear you are up to no good...