And the Banned Play On

November 18, 2014 5:59 PM

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So far this season at the Met I have seen three sensational shows, The Marriage of Figaro, The Death of Klinghoffer and most recently Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk. Although one couldn't imagine three more disparate works -- an 18th Century sex farce, an opera about Palestinian terrorists taking over a cruise ship, and the tale of a murderous adulteress in a factory town in Russia -- there is one interesting fact that groups them as a whole: each, when first presented, got into some major hot water with the censors. One was banned outright by a dictator; an ex-mayor of New York City try to ban this production, while the head of the Met canceled the planned live-telecast: and one, they say, flamed the fire of the French Revolution! Not bad for an artistic expression that has been called, "a dinosaur of an art form."

The Marriage of Figaro, the season opener, based on Beaumarchais's masterpiece, La Folle journée, ou le Mariage de Figaro (The Crazy Day, or the Marriage of Figaro) was written in 1778, but the Parisian censors controlled by Louis XVI successfully banned performances until 1784. The play, with its c...

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