Writing a few years before the French Revolution, barely concealing himself in his hero, Beaumarchais pours his class rage into a stock-comic vessel that barely contains it under pressure. Three years after the happy ending ofThe Barber of Seville, it's the valet's turn to marry. But his master the Count has tired of his lovely Countess, and lusts for Figaro's bride-to-be, Suzanne. He determines to revive the ancient droit de seigneur—the lord of the manor's right to bed her. Figaro and the women concoct a counter-plot; the Count's page, Cherubin (Mozart's Cerubino) makes hash of it through his passionate crush on the Countess. The double/triple/quadruple misunderstanding yields one of the most perfect farce scenes of all time, featuring a chair and a closet, and one of the finest master-servant scenes, featuring a razor. The play, as great in its kind as the opera Mozart made from it, proclaims Figaro a better man than the Count and the women better humans than the men. This version restores two revolutionary passages that the author cut to save his liberty: a confrontation between the Count and his vassals in the final scene that anticipates the guillotine, and a searing indictment of sexual inequality by Figaro's mother, Marceline.
"For the sprightly new American Conservatory Theater production…credit must go to translator/adaptor Joan Holden for sending new shafts of light through the play…The characters, especially the women, seem freshly inspired in their resourcefulness…vernacular that might have been coined yesterday…" —San Francisco Chronicle. "In commissioning a textual face lift for the eighteenth-century farce immortalized by Mozart's opera, American Conservatory Theater has struck gold…a joyous piece of stage frippery whose social bite is never far below the surface." —Variety. "FIGARO gets a new lease on life…Where better to find somebody to bring new life to this play, which is widely regarded as helping to provoke the French Revolution?" —Marin Independent Journal.
"Takes justifiable liberties in replacing Beaumarchais' eighteenth-century jibes with up-to-the-minute substitutes…the adaptor hasn't so much rewritten Beaumarchais to suit her own taste as returned our attention to the essence of his dissent…" —San Francisco Examiner.