La Folle Journée, ou Le Mariage de Figaro

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La Folle Journée, ou Le Mariage de Figaro ("The Mad Day, or The Marriage of Figaro") is a comedy in five acts by Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais (usually referred to simply as "Beaumarchais", 1732-1799)[1].

(The texts of both the Beaumarchais play and the popular Mozart opera based on it, are most often referred to simply as Le Mariage de Figaro or The Marriage of Figaro)

The original text

Most probably written in 1778 as the second of a trilogy of plays entitled Le Roman de la Famille Almaviva, with the others being Le Barbier de Séville, ou La Précaution Inutile[2] (1775) and L'Autre Tartuffe ou La Mère coupable ("The other Tartuffe, or The Guilty Mother", 1792)[3].

Though accepted for production by the Comédie Française in 1781 and apparently published, but was only played to an audience including members of the Royal Family in September 1783 and with the support of the king finally opened at the Théâtre Français on 27 April 1784 under the title of La Folle Journée, ou Le Mariage de Figaro.

Translations and adaptations

The play

Translated into English by Thomas Holcroft, with the title The Follies of a Day—Or The Marriage of Figaro and was first performed at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden in London in late 1784 and early 1795.

Mozart's opera

The play formed the basis of the famous opera The Marriage of Figaro[4] by W.A. Mozart, with a libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte, another opera, La pazza giornata, ovvero Il matrimonio di Figaro, with libretto by Gaetano Rossi and music by Marcos Portugal.

The libretto for the opera was translated into Afrikaans as Die Huwelik van Figaro by Aart de Villiers (with Anton Hartman).

Performance history in South Africa

1783?: From internal evidence in Le Vaillant's journals, it seems probable that a version of De Beaumarchais's new play, banned in Paris till 1784, may have been seen in Cape Town's Barracks Theatre prior to that (between 1780 and 1784). Fletcher (1994: p. 18), for example, notes his reference to the "Duchess of Almaviva", who only appears in the second play, while F.C.L. Bosman actually suggests 1783 as a probable date.


F.C.L. Bosman, 1928. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel I: 1652-1855. Pretoria: J.H. de Bussy. [5]: pp. 31,

Jill Fletcher. 1994. The Story of Theatre in South Africa: A Guide to its History from 1780-1930. Cape Town: Vlaeberg: pp. 19-20.

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