Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Easter Weekend in New York – a Wedding and a Parade

There’s something special about Easter weekend in New York, and this one will be extra special.  On Saturday, we will be attending the wedding of a lovely couple. 

It will be an intimate affair – just the bride and groom and about 4,000 of their closest friends. 

Come around about 1:00 pm on Saturday afternoon and you can join us and the happy couple as we celebrate The Marriage of Figaro at the Metropolitan Opera.  Of course, we all know the course of true love never runs smooth, especially in opera, but I can guarantee you that, before the afternoon is over, Figaro will wed his beloved Susanna. 

We first meet the young Figaro in Rossini’s the Barber of Seville.  Figaro not only functions as Seville’s unisex hairdresser, he also performs surgery, pulls teeth, arranges marriages and assignations, and will even write you a serenade to woo your lady love.  In short, Figaro is the quintessential general factotum, and is constantly in demand. 

In his famous entrance aria, Largo al Factotum, which has been sung by everyone from baritones to Bugs Bunny, he explains the secret of his success. 

Despite the grainy quality of the film, I chose this version for its subtitles and for the wonderful performance by British baritone John Rawnsley, one of the best singing actors of his generation.  Something tells me you will recognize the tune.  


By the end of Rossini’s the Barber of Seville, and after much overcoming of obstacles by the clever barber, Figaro has arranged for the young Count Almaviva to marry the beautiful Rosina, the lady who has stolen his heart, and off they go into the land of happily ever after. 

Well……..not quite. 

As Mozart’s the Marriage of Figaro opens, Figaro is preparing to marry the young lady who has stolen his heart, Susanna.  Figaro is now Count Almaviva’s valet de chambre, and Susanna is the Countess’s maid. 

The wedding day dawns uneventfully, and then, you’ll pardon the expression, all hell breaks loose as all manner of hilarious and improbable problems suddenly arise to keep the happy couple from tying the knot.  Unfortunately for Figaro and Susanna, one of those problems is Figaro’s boss, the Count. 

Marlis Petersen as Susanna and Peter Mattei as the Count in Mozart’s “Le Nozze di Figaro” at the Metropolitan Opera. Photo: Ken Howard

The Count, who has proved to be a less-than-faithful husband, has now set his sights on the lovely Susanna and threatens to assert his droit du seigneur, the nobleman’s right to have, shall we say, first crack at the bride on her wedding night.  In addition, Figaro is being hounded by Marcellina, an elderly woman, who claims he promised to marry her.  What’s a barber to do?  Even a clever one!! 

Lisette Oropesa as Susanna (standing, left) and Susanna Phillips as the Countess Almaviva (seated, right); edited image, based on a Ken Howard photograph, courtesy of the Santa Fe Opera

Luckily, the Ladies come to the rescue.  Susanna and the Countess come up with a clever scheme, which involves disguises, switching identities and a secret rendezvous in the garden.  It all works.  In the end, Marcellina is revealed to be Figaro’s long-lost mother, the Count, on bended knee, publicly begs his wife for forgiveness and it’s clear that Figaro has met his match in his clever, young bride. 

Actually, the whole plot can be explained in about 10 seconds – at least that’s what the cast members of the Santa Barbara Opera Company have attempted to do rather well, I think.  Here goes.



Easter Sunday in New York means the annual Easter Parade, 

Easter Parade 2011 Photograph: Syd London

which kicks off at 10 a.m. as participants parade up Fifth Avenue showing off their finest Easter bonnets.  The annual tradition dates back to the 1870s.  If you’re just there to watch, the best place to do that is around St. Patrick’s Cathedral. 


If you’d like to participate, there’s still time to grab your best bonnet and join the parade. 

Have a Happy and Blessed Easter.  


  1. Have fun with the Opera! I love Marriage of Figaro, and we saw a performance several years ago when we still had an opera company associated with Cleveland (we were season ticket holders), but for some reason, this branch of the Arts (along with ballet) didn't seem to get the support that was needed to sustain it, which is a shame because Cleveland has a very vibrant Arts community. Go figure. At least there are Operatic productions that still are staged with The Cleveland Orchestra and at some of the universities. We are lucky enough to live close to Oberlin College where Marilyn Horne is a visiting professor. This year, Jessye Norman will be performing, too. I'm still waiting for Carl to take me to the Met (as promised). What are your thoughts about the operas being performed today that are Classics but updated with dress and staging? Like? Dislike? We can also catch a performance of a Met Opera when they broadcast it at the movie theaters. I have a notion to go to one dressed as though I was attending it in person in NYC. What do you think? Have a Happy Easter, and please post about that experience if you attend!

    1. I'm not surprised opera does not get the support it deserves. It's incredibly expensive to produce, even w/modern minimalist productions. Still, it's a real pity. It's such an all-encompassing art form - drama, orchestra, voice, dance, etc., which necessarily makes it that much more difficult to do well.

      How lucky you are to be near two of my favorite ladies -- Marilyn Horne and Jessye Norman. Horne's voice was beyond description, and we were lucky enough to see her many times in all of her signature roles. She was in a class by herself. Jessye Norman singing Strauss or Wagner was magnificent. I have a recording of her 4 Last Songs which never fails to bring tears to my eyes.

      As to my thoughts on modernized versions of the great classic operas........well...........that's a subject for another day that we need to discuss "entre nous." I'll e-mail you.

      Yes, yes, do dress up to go to the opera, and tell Carl you need a weekend in NYC, which includes a trip to the Met.

      Have a wonderful Easter.

      Cheers, M-T

  2. "Marriage of Figaro" is one of the operas that I've always wanted to see. Enjoy!!

    1. It's on my list of favorites, and no matter how many times I see it, I hear something new that delights me. It's an endless source of enjoyment --- but then, anything by Mozart is.

      Yes, you should definitely put "the Marriage of Figaro" on your bucket list. There may be a production near you that you and your husband could enjoy.

      Have a wonderful Easter weekend and thanks for stopping by.

      Cheers, M-T

  3. Dearest Marie-Thérèse,
    That is a lovely opera with a very happy ending! Hope you enjoy this marvel and wishing you both a very Happy Easter!

    1. Dearest Mariette,

      Hope your Easter was wonderful, as was ours. I do love operas w/happy endings, although I also have a great time crying at the end of La Bohème or Mme Butterfly. Dan will not admit to it, but I've caught him crying at the opera many times. He always says the same thing, "I just had something in my eye." It's not in his eye, it's in his heart.

      Big bisous to you and Pieter, dear friend.

      Cheers, M-T

  4. Oh my goodness, I love all the beautiful spring/Easter images here. I've been waiting 6 months for the season to finally get here. Flowers, hats and a veil!

    1. Dear Debra, you really are a woman after my own heart -- flowers, hats and a veil -- the romantic essence of spring -- wonderful observation.

      Always enjoy your comments.

      Cheers, M-T

  5. Believe it or not, I've never been to an opera! This post makes me want to, though!

    1. I highly recommend putting it on your bucket list. It's such a wonderful experience, even if you never see another opera the rest of your life. I'd be happy to point you in the right direction, should you get the urge. "The Marriage of Figaro" is always a good choice for a first opera. Lots of fun, fabulous music and a happy ending.

      Thanks for stopping by, Cindy.

      Cheers, M-T


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