Figaro again

Nonetheless the essential qualities of the opera are found in its great arias such as the Countess’s ‘Dove sono i bei momenti …’ which encapsulates a kind of marital unhappiness palpably near to our own sensibility, or Cherubino’s expression of the oversized emotions of adolescence in ‘Non so più cosa son, cosa faccio’ (with its wonderful rhyme with ‘ghiaccio’). It’s enough to understand the dramatic logic of the moment, and the words and music can stand alone. This is like much Greek tragedy, whose momentum is above all dramatic, and whose set speeches and dialogues are rhetorical elaborations of the situation of the character at that point. An example is Medea, a character it’s hard to feel empathy for or even make psychological sense of. Could this be because the stories were all drawn from an established body of myth, and the playwright’s role was to give it dramatic shape and verbal expression?

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