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 (in English, The Marriage of Figaro). Mozart's opera is sometimes referred to as Le Nozze di 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

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.

The play also formed the basis of two operas:

  • La pazza giornata, ovvero Il matrimonio di Figaro, with libretto by Gaetano Rossi and music by Marcos Portugal.

Performance history of the play 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.

The opera by Mozart

Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte. The opera was first performed in Vienna in 1786.

Translations and adaptations

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

Performance history of the opera in South Africa

1934: Presented by the South African College of Music.

1963: Presented in Afrikaans by PACT Opera, starring Nellie du Toit as Contessa, produced by Josef Witt, conducted by Anton Hartman.

1965: Presented by NAPAC Opera.

1966: Presented by NAPAC Opera.

1969: Presented by CAPAB Opera in collaboration with UCT.

1973: Presented in Afrikaans by PACT Opera, with Nellie du Toit as Contessa, produced by Peter Ebert, conducted by Leo Quayle; presented by CAPAB Opera.

1974: Presented as Figaro to schools by NAPAC Opera.

1975: Presented in Afrikaans by PACT Opera, with Nellie du Toit as Contessa, produced by Peter Ebert, conducted by Leo Quayle.

1976: Presented by CAPAB Opera.

1977: Presented by PACOFS Opera.

1986: Presented by CAPAB Opera (15–28 February)

1988: Presented by CAPAB Opera (3–22 September)

1991: Presented by CAPAB Opera (6–16 November)

1999: Presented by Cape Town Opera (9–18 April)

2006: Presented by Cape Town Opera (20–26 August)

2014: Presented by Cape Town Opera (18–26 October)


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.

Wayne Muller. 2018. A reception history of opera in Cape Town: Tracing the development of a distinctly South African operatic aesthetic (1985–2015). Unpublished PhD thesis.

Alexandra Xenia Sabina Mossolow. 2003. The career of South African soprano Nellie du Toit, born 1929. Unpublished Masters thesis. University of Stellenbosch.

Hilde Roos. 2012. 'Indigenisation and history: how opera in South Africa became South African opera'. Acta Academica Supplementum. 2012(1).

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