Beaumarchais in Seville: An Intermezzo by Hugh Thomas

By Hugh Thomas

In 1764-65 the irrepressible playwright Beaumarchais traveled to Madrid, the place he immersed himself within the lifestyles and society of the day. encouraged through the locations he had visible and the folk he had met, Beaumarchais again domestic to create The Barber of Seville and the wedding of Figaro, performs that turned the foundation for the operas by means of Rossini and Mozart that proceed to thrill audiences this present day. This booklet is a full of life and unique account of Beaumarchais’s stopover at to Madrid (he by no means went to Seville) and a new version of the society that fired his imagination.Drawing on Beaumarchais’s letters and commentaries, translated into English for the 1st time, Hugh Thomas investigates the entire diversity of the playwright’s actions in Madrid. He focuses specific consciousness on brief plays that Beaumarchais attended and wherein he was once most likely motivated, and he probes the inspirations for such widely known characters because the barber-valet Figaro, the lordly count number Almaviva, and the attractive yet deceived Rosine. now not neglecting Beaumarchais’s many different ambitions (ranging from an recreation to realize a freelance for promoting African slaves to an try and position his mistress as a secret agent within the mattress of King Charles III), Lord Thomas offers a hugely unique view of a necessary second in Madrid’s historical past and within the artistic lifetime of the vigorous Beaumarchais.

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Sample text

Her fiancé, or fiancé manqué, was José Clavijo y Fajardo, a witty, clever, enlightened man of letters originally from the Canary Islands. He loved and admired France. He had recently obtained the sinecure of keeper of the royal archives, which gave him the same kind of position and income which Beaumarchais himself had obtained from the government at Versailles. In 1764 he was thirty-four years old, just two years more than Beaumarchais. He was short, plump, and usually red in the face, rather like an Englishman.

Even in 1764 they were identified by a number within a block (manzana). Nor were the narrow streets often paved; frequently they were covered with mud. Where there was paving, a gutter ran down the centre of the way. Such thoroughfares were rough. ” There was also, despite the good intentions of the present king, much refuse in every street. House doors were still often used by passers-by who needed to relieve themselves. Dogs and even pigs 45 Clavijo wandered freely. Cleaning was still confined to the so-called marea, a word which would usually be translated “the tide”: at night a group of carts fitted with low revolving beams would scoop up the heavier rubbish.

If Beaumarchais could establish that 17 A Golden Age Pauline’s property was worth something, he would ask her to marry him. Nothing if not realistic, Beaumarchais sent first a relation and then, when that emissary died, a lawyer friend, Pierre Lartigues, who lived in the sugar and slave port of Nantes, to Saint-Domingue to investigate. Of this stage in his life, Beaumarchais later wrote, “For several years, I had the good fortune to be able to bring together all my family. ” But very soon this ambitious ex-apprentice watchmaker, this music tutor to the princesses, this pupil of Pâris-Duverney, this sitter to the fashionable Nattier, received an irresistible challenge.

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