The marriage of figaro

Fiordiligi, high on a pedestal, vehemently rebukes an unexpected suitor


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Fiordiligi, high on a pedestal, vehemently rebukes an unexpected suitor:

Vainly pounded by wind and water,

Thus my heart, secure mid tempest,

Firmly is grounded on faithful love.

In my soul a torch is lighted,

Source of strength and consolation.

Only death, not separation,

Shall subdue that sacred flame.

Go! Break off this audacious intrusion;

Recognize true love requited;

Taunt me not with vain delusion

That could render only shame.

Naive Ferrando basks in the certainty that his beloved Dorabella will remain forever true as the stars above:

A balm that erases

The doubts of despair.
The heart that is nourished

On love’s winged potion

Sips nectar ambrosian

That’s borne on the air,

A nectar ambrosian

That’s borne on the air.

Despina shames the sisters for their negligence in mastering the feminine arts of flirtation:

And the sorcery that entices

With the power cast by the eyes.
She’s accomplished at maneuvers

That enflame the bashful wooer,

And familiar with no fewer

Than a thousand alibis.

No one knows better when time to flutter,

When to be boss and when to be butter;

When with a glance

To enkindle romance,

And then shut a lover up

With a smooth cover-up,

Ever surprising, ever disguising.

This Queen of Sheba

Travels in splendor;

Legions attend her,

Bursting with pride.

Her rule is granted,

And all enchanted

Flock to her side.

(Now the seed’s planted,

Watch them come flying,

Gratefully crying:

Bravo, Despina!

O what a guide!

Brilliant Despina!

O what a guide!)
In languorous mood, the amorous strangers revel in their pursuit, happily confident that it will fail:

At her pillow tell my yearning;

Round her slumbers, languidly turning,

Murmur into her drowsy ear.

Bear the message of my longing;

Serve as soft and soothing chorus.

Tell of buds that blossom for us;

Whisper dreams of rapture near.

Fiordiligi, shocked and ashamed of her own frailty, has a searching moment of repentance and resolve:

Somber shadow, forever cover,

Hide my secret in dead of night.
For my guilt I’ll make atonement

With a zeal that burns forever;

With remorse, I shall endeavor

To absolve this odious blight,

Shame and horror brought to light.
Have I known myself so little?

Is my heart so false and frail?

Darling, I shall earn acquittal

With a fire that shall not fail.

Clearly, they are playing with fire, and Dorabella is the first to be consumed. Guglielmo has thrown himself wholeheartedly into the game and actually succeeded in melting her resistance. Considering that he has just delivered a devastating blow to his friend, his aria is surprisingly light hearted. As a wise man once put it: “The good Lord always sends us the strength to bear the misfortunes of others.”

Do allow me to be frank:

If your lovers find you wanting

You have no one else to thank.

Of the sexes you’re the foremost;

I declare it to one and all.

You’re the gender I adore most,

Summer, winter, spring and fall.

But -- your taste for taunting, taunting, taunting

Nearly drives me up the wall.

O the times I’ve raise the banner,

Led the charge to your defense,

And in no uncertain manner

Sallied forth with evidence!

But -- your taste for taunting, taunting, taunting

Puts the laugh at my expense.

You’re enchanting, you’re adorable,

You have got me in a bind.

You’re delicious, sweet and lovable;

Never say that I am blind.

But . . . but . . . but . . . your taste for taunting, taunting

Leaves me lagging far behind.

You’re the gender I adore most.

Ever friendly, I have put you first and foremost.

I’ve defended, sung your praises to the sky.

But . . . but . . . but . . . your taste for taunting, taunting!

If your lovers find you wanting

I can think of no reply.

You’re my favorite of the sexes

But the problem that perplexes

Is to find the reason why,

O why? O why?

Where to find the reason why?
Don Alfonso, having won the wager, placates the disillusioned lovers, urging them not to seek perfection but to accept women just as they are:

Caprice or vice, it’s all in how you take it.

You chastise them for changing . . .

I beg to differ.

It’s the law of life and they can’t break it.

The lover who withdraws in disillusion

Has but one thing to blame:

His own confusion.

Young and elderly,

Both the beldam, the beauty,

In their hearts are the same:



(or Yanked from the Harem))
Constanza, along with two friends, Americans all, is being held captive in Turkey on a trumped up charge, at the mercy of a powerful local chieftain who can rightly claim “The law is what I say it is.” Needless to say, he has his own designs upon her and wants to keep her close by for as long as possible. Despite all, she boldly makes it clear that she is in love with someone else:

How it happened . . . luck or fate? , , ,

Who is to say?
But I knew it . . . I was certain . . .

This was real, and forever.

For I gave to him my heart;

All I have I gave away.

But the wheel of fortune shifted;

Many miles now lie between us.

Hope is gone; my tears remain.

In the dark I reach for shadows;

Through desert I wander.

The nights grow longer;

Wide awake, I call in vain;

In despair, I call in vain.

Love was sudden . . . out of nowhere . . .

New and strange, but not a dream.

How it happened . . . luck or fate? , , ,

Who is to say?

But I know it . . . I am certain . . .

I am his and he is mine,

And my love I’ll not betray.
Separation changes nothing;

Never mind those miles between us.

Far away, I feel him near;

Even now he’s here beside me.

Across land or water

His arms enfold me:

I shall call no more in vain.

Blondie, also detained, attempts to enlighten surly, fanatical Osmin about the modern woman:

A girl might well be flattered

By courtesies in kind.

Our standards now have lifted;

We claim an equal basis,

Not soft and pretty phrases

But a meeting of the mind.

From pampered pet to partner,

The ladder we’ve ascended;

As nature clearly intended,

We journey side by side.

The role of doll or diva

We’ve willingly discarded;

Through waters still uncharted

The ship of love must glide.

Those days of lace and lavender

Have faded and departed;

Through waters still uncharted

The ship of love must glide.

Separated from the man she loves, helpless and confused, Constanza has reached her lowest point, doubting even the reality of her own feelings.
Grief and chaos

Rage in bitter warfare

Since the day that shattered my existence.

My dearest! . . . Where are the pleasures and the joys,

The life we planned together?

All has changed completely . . .

Now it seems so distant.

Day and night, I weep,

And search my heart for love.

And spreads a blanket

That conceals the truth I knew.

Was my love a dream that dies?

Just a dream?

Was my love a mere charade?

Like the rose deprived of water,

Like the frozen grass of winter,

I am cold and void of life;

My heart has turned to stone.

Since that sudden separation,

Here I wander through the dark;

Through a lonely wood I walk.

Birds are silent, flowers withered . . .

Through a darkened wood I wander,

Lost, uncertain and alone.

Where now to turn?

Oh, was it love?

That rush of rapture I can’t remember,

For it seems so far away,

So remote and far away . . .

Like the rose deprived of water,

Like the frozen grass of winter,

I am cold and void of life;

My heart has turned to stone.

Since that sudden separation,

Here I wander through the dark;

Through a lonely wood I walk.

Birds are silent, flowers withered . . .

Through a darkened wood I wander,

Lost, uncertain and alone, all alone.

Blondie gets the happy news that Belmonte has already come running to their rescue:

This adventure we’ll survive –

He will bring us back alive.
I am most enthusiastic ---

Order steps however drastic.

Now to hurry, go inform her

Help is just around the corner.

Seventh heaven I foresee,

Back at home, alive and free.

Not a moment can I linger;

Off I go at once to bring her

Welcome news so unexpected,

Just as we were most dejected,

Just as we were down and so dejected.
Sound the trumpet, raise a cheer;

Just in time the troops appear.

Sound the trumpet, raise a cheer, raise a cheer.
What a pleasure, what delight!

Better days are now in sight.

I’m ecstatic, I enthuse

At the happy, happy news.

But I mustn’t keep her waiting.

Tidings so exhilarating

Will encourage, lift her spirit.

She will jump for joy to hear it.

In a moment she will be

Just as jubilant as me.

I shall carry out instruction.

Right away I’m off to let her

Know that life is looking better,

Get her ready for abduction,

Get her ready for the grand abduction.

Count your blessings while you can ---

This at least is not Iran.

Wave the banners, give a shout:

By tomorrow we’ll be out!

Cry Hosanna! Praise the Lord!

Blow the whistle, all aboard!

What a pleasure, what delight!

Days ahead are looking bright.

I’m ecstatic, I enthuse

At the happy, happy news,

The happy news!
Pedrillo, though hardly cut out for the role of hero, rises to the occasion:

We must act at any cost;

He who hesitates is lost.

Do I weaken? Do I waver?

Does it call for someone braver?
No! Too late for turning back.

I’m ready for the bold attack . . .

Yet I cannot resist the thought:

What will happen if we’re caught?

Will I make it? Does it matter

That my teeth begin to chatter?

No! The girls we have to free!

The dirty work is up to me.

No! They must go free!

And it is mainly up to me,

The dirty work is up to me.
Yet, however bold and brave,

My own skin I’d like to save.

As the lionhearted hero, ha!

As the lionhearted hero,

I’d be rated close to zero.
Yet, no matter what the cost,,

We must act or all is lost.

To the rescue! To the rescue!

Risking the danger of being arrested himself, Belmonte is undeterred, inspired by his love for Constanza:

And redeem the days of futile pain.

Present dangers fade to nothing

When you’re sheltered in my arms again,

Safely sheltered in my arms again.

Ah, my darling! I have found you!

Stay forever in my keeping;

Prison walls are made for leaping.

In the end may love prevail.

Love will yet prevail.

Hand in hand how can we fail?

Even more sweet the compensation

Following loss and separation;

After storm the sun appears.

Rekindled, the sun appears,

Shedding light on phantom fears.

Midnight arrives, the time planned for the escape. Pedrillo signals to the captive girls with a song that tells a highly pertinent story:

Fair as the dawn, her cheek was pale;

Pounding the door to no avail,

Forlorn, she sighed and wept.

Forlorn, she sighed and wept.
Galloping up, a gallant knight

Then heard her tearful plea.

Stirred to a frenzy by her plight,

Drawing his sword, prepared to fight,

He vowed to set her free.

He vowed to set her free.

“Wait for the dark, and then to work!”

Said he, “We’ll not delay.

Dodging the snags and snares that lurk,

Stealing around the tyrant Turk,

I’ll take you far away.

I’ll take you far away.”

Twelve o’clock sharp, the sky is black;

The knight is at her side.

Pity the Turk! Next day he’s back,

Ready to launch a new attack ---

The door is open wide.

The door is open wide.

The four of them caught red-handed, Osmin has his moment of triumph:

Pleasure more than I could hope:

Forty lashes, then the rope.

I’ll be dancing, I’ll be singing

While the two of you are swinging,

Just the sight I long to see,

Hanging from the gallows tree.

Here’s to lasting satisfaction!

Put the charmers out of action.

I would like to see the likes of these

Slowly twisting in the breeze.

Sly and slick, the artful Yankee,

Always up to hanky-panky ---

Now at last it would appear

From you we have no more to fear.

Hallelujah! I’ve a notion

This will bring a big promotion.

I’ll be sheriff when we’re through

And I owe it all to you.

As you dangle, as you swing,

Bear in mind the joy you bring.

I’ll be sheriff when we’re through

And I owe it all to you.

Though he has just cause to seek revenge, the Pasha, impressed by their fortitude under duress, chooses magnanimity:

But my delight I’ll not disguise

When we can wave goodby to Turkey.

A man of heart and head combined

With some relief we leave behind.

Your verdict fills me with emotion;

You put us ever in your debt,

Though I shall be more grateful yet

When we are safe across the ocean.

My admiration I’ll convey

From seven thousand miles away.


With execution round the corner

I shut my eyes and hold my breath,

For when it comes to life or death,

I very much prefer the former.

To my relief, I‘m still around

Instead of six feet underground.


For exploration I’ve a mania,

Air, sea or land, no matter what.

But for my next vacation spot

Give me Vermont or Pennsylvania.

I am no longer overawed

By the delights of life abroad.


Papageno, the bird catcher, reveals his secret -- he’d rather be out catching pretty girls:

My service ever in demand,

My fame has spread across the land.

My pipes I play, my snares I set,

Then lure the birds into my net,

And how my eyes light up with pride

To see my feathered friends inside.

A merry man, I earn my pay

By catching birds, hip hip hooray!

My service ever in demand

My fame has spread across the land.

And yet despite my great success,

One secret hope I must confess:

Though birds provide my daily bread,

Pretty girls I’d like to catch instead.

From dozens I would choose the one

To love and share a life of fun.

No squirming captive in a net,

I’d make of her a pampered pet.

My bride-to-be I shall entice

With candied sugarplums and spice.

And then we’ll sing a song so sweet

No pair of turtledoves can beat.

On seeing a picture of the Queen of the Night’s lovely daughter who has recently been kidnapped, Prince Tamino is inspired to rescue her at any cost:

A vision of beauty and divinity

That fills my heart with light and air.
What name to give this new emotion,

This blend of passion and devotion?

What is the fire that stirs in me,

Burning with fierce intensity?

The name is love! Yes, love alone!

True love, true love! Yes, love alone!

Now, now to search until find her!

Oh, for a moment to behold her

Beside me, breathing,

Face to face to gaze upon.

Close to my heart I shall enfold her,

And with loving arms around her,

Then claim her evermore my own.

As he sets out on his perilous journey, three mysterious ladies present Tamino with a magic flute “whose gentle tone suffices to help one out in time of crisis:”

This tone can pacify the devil,

Turn mountain peaks and valleys level;

The sad of heart find fresh delight

And day is born of darkest night.

Ah! A priceless treasure

With soothing tone from heaven sent,

Spreading peace and gentle light

In a world of discontent.

They also provide him with an indispensable escort:

The journey calls for three convoys,

Our fairest, best and brightest boys.

The winding road you will b e shown;

Heed their advice and theirs alone.

Malevolent yet somewhat pitiable Monostatos covetously eyes the captured sleeping beauty that he has been watching over:

Starved for love, yet strong and able,

Why alone am I denied?
Am I not a man of feeling,

Also made of flesh and blood?

When the hope of love comes stealing,

Must I nip it in the bud?

Yes, my waiting game is over;

Now alert and wide awake,

Quite as worthy as another,

What I want I mean to take.

Starry night is made for loving,

Not for caution and delay.

Watchful moon, if disapproving,

Kindly look the other way.

The Queen of the Night rises in wrath at her daughter’s reluctance to carry out a small request:

In rage and despair your mother cries.

I want him slain,

And turn to you, my daughter,

To plunge the deadly dagger.

By your own hand, this day Sarastro dies,

Or not again shall I call you child of mine.

Ah! No beloved child of mine.

My one and only daughter I disown.

Rise! Rise! Rise!

God of vengeance, do as I ordain.

A contrasting message from Sarastro:

The lost that blindly wander

Are shown the lighted path.

Here guided by a loving hand,

We journey toward a higher land.
Within these halls of wisdom

Where side by side we strive,

No slave of hate can enter

Nor seed of vengeance thrive.

Until a person longs to learn

The name of man he’s yet to earn.

To the end, Papageno has one thing alone on his mind:

Is paradise aplenty

And all I ask of life.
In feasting and dancing we’ll revel,

And worries can go to the devil.

A banquet of laughter and mirth

For us will be heaven on earth.

A bride of barely twenty,

And Papageno’s wife,

Is paradise aplenty

And all I ask of life.

By batches of beauties surrounded,

A dozen a day I have counted.

But what is the good of it all

If none of them come to my call?

A bride of barely twenty,

And Papageno’s wife,

Is paradise aplenty

And all I ask of life.

In pining a person is wasted;

His beer and his beef go untasted.

To go from starvation to bliss,

I need nothing more than a kiss,

No more than a kiss.

Buoyant, exuberant Figaro will be the first to tell you that he is a man of multiple talents, not only as barber, but also surgeon, vet, gardener, marriage broker, problem solver and daily newspaper:

Rested and rollicking, ready to go!

Nice day!

Scaling the ladder up to the top!

Hand it to Figaro, bravo, Bravissimo! Bravo!

Versatile, vigorous, much in demand, hi ho!

Favored by fortune and blessed by the gods,

Bound for success, overcoming the odds.

Scissor and razor ready when needed,

I am stampeded, run to the ground.

Ever at home with curler and comb,

A finer profession is not to be found.

A generous ration of free conversation

I give on occasion, trimming the hair.

Soaping or lathering, I am for gathering

Gossip and news for others to share.

Higher rewards come with the client;

Gentlemen cordial, ladies compliant.

People pursuing me, hailing, yoo-hooing me!

Gender or station no limitation.

Shorten the beard, heighten the color!

Service outstanding they are demanding.

Falling all over, the public is calling;

So highly regarded, the barber bombarded.

Customers clamoring, hounding and hammering,

Ever so eager, O Figaro, Figaro, Figaro!

A mob! A rush! A riot!

Enough! Be quiet!

Such great demand for my noble art.

But have a heart! One at a time!

Figaro … yes, sir! Figaro … Ay, ay!

Figaro here, Figaro there,

Figaro high, Figaro low,

Figaro up, Figaro down!

Quick on the trigger, with vision and vigor,

I’m man of the hour, the talk of the town.

High over all, even bigger than Figaro,

Destiny favors the day of the dynamo.

Business booming, flowers are blooming,

Flowers are blooming, opening out.

Welcome the barber, up and about.

Man of renown, I’m talk of the town!

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