(Michael Feingold’s article appeared in the Village Voice, 10/26.)
The two classic comedies that Beaumarchais devoted to the exploits of the trickster valet, Figaro, gave rise to two comic operas that became even greater triumphs, Rossini's Barber of Seville and Mozart's Marriage of Figaro. Ever since, writers and composers have dreamed of creating a third panel for this triptych. Beaumarchais's own, rather glum finish to his trilogy, The Guilty Mother, has provoked several intriguing modern operas, but little enthusiasm.
A better solution, it turns out, lay sleeping in dusty archives. Last summer, at conductor Riccardo Muti's behest, the Salzburg Festival revived I due Figaro (The Two Figaros), by Saverio Mercadante (1795-1870), currently receiving its U.S. premiere from the tiny but game Amore Opera (Connelly Theater). And though not quite on the Mozart or Rossini level, it's something of a gem.