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date: 22 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines how Wolfgang Amadé Mozart’s comic opera Le Nozze di Figaro was affected by the practice of censorship during the Josephine Enlightenment. It first discusses three aspects of Le Nozze di Figaro’s genesis as mentioned by Lorenzo Da Ponte: Mozart’s choice of the stage play La folle journée by Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais; the remarkably quick working out of the score; and permission for performance. It then analyzes the circumstances surrounding the censoring of Beaumarchais’s performance of La folle journée and the opera’s release. It also evaluates freedom of the press and censorship in Austria under Joseph II, who accelerated and radicalized the implementation of reforms in the spirit of a controlled enlightenment. Finally, the chapter considers Beaumarchais’s theory of comedy in which he emphasized the social function of theater, albeit not in the political sense that was claimed in the subsequent reception of Figaro.

Keywords: Wolfgang Amadé Mozart, opera, Le Nozze di Figaro, censorship, Enlightenment, La folle journée, Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais, freedom of press, Joseph II, comedy

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