Personalities | Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais | Classical Era | Opera

1732–99, French

Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais, best known for two plays on the theme of ‘Figaro’, was an amateur musician as well as a playwright. His first Figaro play, Le barbier de Séville (‘The Barber of Seville’, 1775), was produced at the Comédie-Française and his second, La folle journée, ou Le Mariage de Figaro (‘The Mad Day, or the Marriage of Figaro’) was completed in 1781 and performed in 1784. The character of Figaro is said to have been a type of self-portrait of the playwright, who shared a colourful personality with the barber. At the time, just before the French Revolution, these plays were considered seditious, since they depicted an equality between servant and master. As operas, the music for the Figaro stories was written by Rossini and Mozart respectively. As a librettist, Beaumarchais was best known for the five-act opera Tarare (1787), produced in Paris. Gluck turned it down, and it was subsequently set to music by Antonio Salieri (1750–1825).

Introduction | Classical Era | Opera
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