The greatness in great art lies in its flexibility. Many things can entertain or even stimulate within the narrow confines of a particular context, but great works of art—be they paintings or plays, sculptures or symphonies—transcend limitations. They reveal different things at different times. In the world of opera, Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro (“The Marriage of Figaro”) stands at the summit of achievement, a work so perfect, so inspired and heartfelt, so gloriously engaging that it is almost impossible to do it violence. It is, of course, frequently staged and as a result has been at the mercy of numerous operatic fads. Yet the work has faced such slings and arrows bravely. Indeed, it seems that no matter how outré the production, Mozart’s sparkling music and Lorenzo da Ponte’s scintillating libretto come through unscathed, immune, as it were, to the vagaries of opera directors looking to make a ...


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