>> Sunday, November 30, 2008
In early 1786, Mozart and his brilliant sidekick, Lorenzo DaPonte, collaborated to bring us what has become one of the world's most beloved comic operas, Le Nozze di Figaro. Along with a host of popular and endearing characters in Susanna, Figaro, Cherubino, and the forlorn Contessa, Cherubino stands in the forefront as probably the most popular and beloved of any single character in the history of opera.
Mozart and DaPonte knew the sexual power that androgyny held over persons of the 18th century and so they sought to entice their audience with that power by using a woman in the role of a 14-year-old boy. The audience, knowing that they were seeing a woman in breeches, were treated to what were then, sexually explicit scenes where Cherubino was seen breathing heavily over both Susanna and the Contessa in the Contessa's bed chamber and even frolicking "innocently" with them upon the bed. It no doubt drove audiences mad, and perhaps forced many a man to cross his legs or lay his hat discretely upon his lap to conceal his excitement.
In this scene, the amazing Frederica Von Stade, (affectionately known as "Flicka"), is Cherubino along with Ileana Cotrubas as Susanna in the 1973 Glyndebourne Festival production of Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro.