[Marxism] Mozart: Rational revolutionary

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed May 22 05:52:54 MDT 2019

Beaumarchais made The Marriage of Figaro with stock characters but gave 
them depth through the force of their challenge to the existing order. 
He has Figaro say: “Nobility, fortune, rank, position! How proud they 
make a man feel! What have you done to deserve such advantages? Put 
yourself to the trouble of being born – nothing more! For the rest – a 
very ordinary man!” Later in the passage, Figaro asks “Pourquoi ces 
choses et non pas d’autres? – Why these things and not others?” a line 
that resonated in revolutionary France. Napoleon thought the play 
forecast the revolution. And Beaumarchais’s revolutionary credentials 
were impeccable — he ran arms to the American revolution, still in 
progress as the play was being written, and barely over when it was 
first produced in 1784. The Mozart and Da Ponte collaboration followed 
on that first production with amazing speed, going up almost exactly two 
years later, on May 1, 1786. Their audience, then, knew what Da Ponte 
and Mozart were getting into. Joseph II was never going to tolerate 
explicit revolutionary language, and Da Ponte softened it considerably 
in devising his libretto. But Mozart deepened it again with his music, 
giving three dimensions to two-dimensional characters by granting them 
real-life emotional complexity.  Instead of political force, they get 
emotional depth, and as real people, their fates once again acquire 
political force.

full: https://www.the-tls.co.uk/articles/public/mozart-grace-notes/

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