One of the most recent additions to the Archives and Collections is an Early and Important Music archive. This project is actively collecting original music manuscript and early (pre-1800) print music.
One of the earliest groupings in this Collection, and certainly one of the rarest, is a late eighteenth century manuscript set of scores for Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro (‘The Marriage of Figaro’). As was the convention at the time there is no date given, however preliminary research on the paper and ink suggest that these volumes were transcribed in the late 1700s, making them almost certainly produced in Mozart’s own lifetime.
Figaro, an opera in four acts, was composed in 1786 (five years before the composer’s untimely death at the age of 33) to a libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte.
Voted by Classical Music magazine as one of the twenty greatest operas ever written, the story is thought to be largely based on Pierre Beaumarchais’s stage comedy La folle journée, ou le Mariage de Figaro (‘The Mad Day, or The Marriage of Figaro’), produced two years earlier.
It follows the travails of the title character Figaro in his attempts to marry Susanna, while foiling the attempts of their employer the Count Almaviva to steal her away from him.
Figaro remains one of Mozart’s most popular and enduring operas and is regularly still performed. Below is a photograph of RCS’ most recent performance of it in 2015, with Victoria Wood’s daughter Grace Durham in the role of Cherubino.
A catalogue of the Early and Important Music Collection can be found on our Archives Hub.