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Find out more about the current special exhibition in the Mozarthaus Vienna!

Cherubino alla vittoria!
Mozart’s Figaro aria in the context of military music
 
An exhibition mounted by the Vienna City Library in cooperation with the Mozarthaus Vienna until the 28th of January 2024
 

In the so-called military aria at the end of Act One of the opera “Le Nozze di Figaro” (The Marriage of Figaro), the main character, Figaro, drastically describes the horrors of a soldier’s life to the page Cherubino who has just been promoted to the rank of an officer. At a time when in Europe wars seemed to be raging everywhere, this must have made a far greater impression on audiences than nowadays. An Austrian military march dating from this period, found recently, shows a striking thematic similarity with the said march at the end of Figaro’s aria. Did Mozart perhaps know this military march and deliberately use it in his opera? If so, with a few ingenious touches he made it fit for performance on stage, thus giving the scene even greater reference to reality.

The exhibition presents this thesis as a subject for discussion and also throws light on the resonance of the Figaro aria in subsequent works of military and battle music. Attention is also focused on the military during the Habsburg monarchy and armed conflicts at the time when “Le Nozze di Figaro” was being created and becoming renowned, as well as Mozart’s loyalty to the emperor, expressed in patriotic and propagandistic compositions. Ultimately, with reference to the music, the subjects citation – borrowing – plagiarism are also dealt with.