Chapter

Sisterhood and Seduction II: Friendship and Class

Kristi Brown-Montesano

in Understanding the Women of Mozart's Operas

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 2007 | ISBN: 9780520248021
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520932968 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520248021.003.0007
Sisterhood and Seduction II: Friendship and Class

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The question of being a real prima donna seems to be a starting point for much of the critical discussion regarding the Countess Almaviva and her maid, Susanna. The heroines of Le nozze di Figaro pose a special case. In a genre that thrives on catfights and romantic rivalries between women, the Countess and Susanna display a remarkable solidarity, more so than any other two female characters in Mozart's operas. In a sense, the Countess had borrowed her maid's “wardrobe” long before she became the Countess, and the potential for their friendship was established even before they met. This chapter looks back to the origins of the Countess's story, namely Beaumarchais's play Le barbier de Séville (1775) and, subsequently, Giovanni Paisiello's celebrated operatic version, Il barbiere di Siviglia (1782).

Keywords: prima donna; Countess Almaviva; Susanna; nozze di Figaro; Mozart's operas; barbier de Séville; Giovanni Paisiello; barbiere di Siviglia

Chapter.  16023 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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