07 Jan 2006

The Guardian on Beaumarchais

How to stage a revolution

Beaumarchais, the dramatist behind The Marriage of Figaro and The Barber of Seville, was more than a mere playwright - he shaped the 18th century.

By Michael Billington [Guardian, 6 January 2006]

Pity the poor dramatist whose work becomes a successful opera. Unless he is Shakespeare or Schiller, he will usually find that he is simply regarded as source material. So it is with Beaumarchais whose twin masterpieces, The Barber of Seville and The Marriage of Figaro, are rarely seen outside France and have been largely superseded by the more famous operas. But, with new productions of both Rossini's Barber and Mozart's Figaro at Covent Garden, it is high time we re-examined, and revived, the revolutionary writer who inspired them.

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