When Silence Gives the Opera Meaning

December 4, 2014 3:10 PM

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Near the very end of Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro comes the moment when the philandering Count Almaviva, fresh from yet another discovery of his betrayal, asks his wife for forgiveness. "Contessa, perdono," he sings, repeating the phrase. And then there is a pause while he awaits the Countess' response.

Depending on the production you see or the recording you hear, the pause can be the briefest of instances or the longest, most agonizing interruption to the opera's giddy pace. And if you have the good fortune to witness that longer pause, the agony you feel unfolds like a rich perfume, its narrativ...

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