Notes on the Figaro Production By Stage Director Brian Luedloff
Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro is not so much a comedy as it is a farce: farce seems silly and ridiculous, but reveals something about human nature through satire and absurdity that mere comedy cannot.
Surely DaPonte appreciated that when he was setting Pierre Augustin Beaumarchais’ popular play, which skewers class distinctions and exposes the moral hypocrisy of the aristocracy. I’ve chosen to set Figaro in the late 1940s in Hollywood on the soundstage of a film set, where a Cecile B. DeMille type is filming The Marriage of Figaro. I wanted to give our Figaro a modern, if not contemporary, setting that would allow people to see more of themselves and those they know in the story.
It’s so easy to assume that the droit du seigneur is fictional or a thing of the past: that people in power and privilege don’t use that power in selfish and intimidating ways. Viewed through a 21st-century lens, the Count is a serial sexual predator; but set in the 1940s I hope that it will be less political and more personal.
Film stars of the golden age of Hollywood are the closest thing we have to royalty and aristocracy; a film stage setting will allow us to reveal some of the scenes in a traditional way with period costumes (those scenes being filmed) and in a more immediate way in the behind-the-scenes elements of the story (the actor playing the Count imposing himself on the actress playing Susanna. And all without losing a bit of the delicious humanity and humor that Mozart, daPonte and Beaumarchais intended!