In love with Mozart

14 February 2024

At Welsh National Opera, we adore a love story and this Valentine’s Day, we’re celebrating one of the greatest composers, Mozart, who has given us plenty of romantic and lustful stories to share on our stages.  

Created for the Court Opera in Vienna between 1786 and 1790, The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni and Cosi fan tutte were composed by Mozart and based on libretti by Lorenzo Da Ponte. They are all in Italian which was the language considered most suitable for opera at the time and in the genre of opera buffa (comic opera). Despite the genre's usual light and comic character, these operas express a desire of freedom and revolve around themes which were considered daring for their time; politics in The Marriage of Figaro, religion in Don Giovanni, and morality in Così fan tutte. Other common topics in the three include the search for love or, in Don Giovanni’s case sexual pleasure, disguise and mistaken identities, the harassment of women by men and the conflicts between master and servant. 

The first of the Mozart-Da Ponte trilogy, The Marriage of Figarois full of schemes, mistaken identities, love and loyalty. Figaro and Susanna are due to marry but Count Almaviva wants the bride-to-be for himself. Will the count’s wife find out about her husband’s plan? Will Figaro be able to hold on to Susanna? And who is the servant Cherubino in love with? All will be revealed when our period-set production of The Marriage of Figaro returns next Spring.

From trying to find the truth about love to just living for lust, Don Giovanni is opera’s ultimate seducer. Working his way around Europe, he takes what he wants without a thought for the women he leaves in his wake. However, when one of his conquests ends in murder, he finds himself on the run, pursued by disgruntled ex-lovers, fiancées and a force from beyond the grave. Treating love as disposable and refusing to show remorse to those who he hurt with his womanising ways, Don Giovanni’s past ultimately leads to his demise in this cautionary tale.  

Così fan tutte takes a cynical look at love, with the title, a quotation from the earlier opera The Marriage of Figaro, loosely translating as all women are like that. The opera tells the tale of two women who, unbeknownst to them, become part of a wager when the cynical Don Alfonso bets their fiancés that the ladies would stray if given the chance. The men fake being called off to war but return disguised as Albanians and try to seduce each other’s lovers. With plenty of twists and turns and laughs along the way, will the women stay faithful or is Don Alfonso right to be so dismissive of true love? 

What’s truly great about the Mozart-Da Ponte operas lies in their ability to show us how we really are; cruel yet affectionate at the same time, and the characters reflect our own human weaknesses, desires and challenges that we face. With his coming-of-age tale Così fan tutte opening this month as part of our Spring 2024 Season and his mistaken identity-laden The Marriage of Figaro just announced as part of our 2024/2025 Season, we can’t wait for you to fall in love with Mozart.