8 Pages

Figaro: The Character and the Opera he Represents

BySara Ellen Eckerson

Figaro, in Søren Kierkegaard’s corpus, refers to a character from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s opera Le nozze di Figaro, ossia la folle giornata (The Marriage of Figaro), K 492. The opera premièred in 1786 and was composed in the style of an opera buffa, with its libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte. Kierkegaard, when speaking about Figaro, refers to the Danish translation, Figaros Givtermaal eller den gale Dag: Syngestykke i fire Akter oversat til Musik af Mozart efter den italiensk Omarbeidelse af Beaumarchais’ franske Original, translated by Niels Thoroup Bruun (17781823).1 The opera itself is based on the original play by Pierre Auguste Caron de Beaumarchais titled, La Folle Journée, ou Le Mariage de Figaro (The Mad Day or The Marriage of Figaro), which premiered in 1784.2 The character of Figaro, himself, appears infrequently in Kierkegaard’s corpus. His name is most often used as a metonym, and so rather than naming the entire opera, Kierkegaard calls the opera by one of its lead characters. The title of the opera also serves as Figaro’s namesake, as it incorporates the theme of his wedding.