Figaro, Figaro, Figaro!!

The negative opinions that some individuals possess towards the protagonist in the series, Mad Men, Don Draper (Jon Hamm), are preposterous.  Yes, most of us are aware of his philandering with various women besides his wife, Betty Draper (January Jones).  However, there have been “Dons” in society dating back to the Eighteenth Century, and this is not referring to The Sopranos or The Godfather Trilogy people!

In actuality, The Figaro Trilogy was written in the late 1770’s by Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais.  This trilogy consisted of the comical plays including The Barber of Seville, The Marriage of Figaro, and The Guilty Mother.  The most well-known third of this saga is the second of the three parts.  Ironically, although Beaumarchais wrote The Marriage of Figaro to fulfill the request proposed by Louis François, Prince of Conti, the play was banned by the ruling authorities in France.  With the French Revolution right around the corner and tempers between societal classes erupting, Beaumarchais’s masterpiece served no place in the highly unstable culture of France.  Beaumarchais austerely highlighted the restrictions in which the different societal class ranks possessed.  It wasn’t for almost a decade until Mozart remastered Beaumarchais’s play into his own version of The Marriage of Figaro, the comical opera.

After viewing the third episode of the first season titled “The Marriage of Figaro” it seemed that there were definite connections with the opera composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.  As practically any viewer of this season would know, Don Draper is married to Betty.  In this episode, Don is seen on the rooftop of Rachel Menken’s (Maggie Siff) department store with Rachel herself.  Throughout the scene, Don leans in and the two start kissing each other.  Later in the episode, Don is seen full of depression and lacking fulfillment in his life while he is of attendance at his own daughter’s (Kiernan Shipka) birthday party.

Since the basis of the plot has been established, the parallels of the episode with the opera can be discussed.  In this opera, the characters that should be acknowledged are the Count, his wife Rosine, Figaro, and his fiancée Suzanne.  After three years, the Count grows uninterested in his wife and their marriage.  Just like Don, the Count grows miserable with his seemingly ideal life.  The Count actually desires to pursue Figaro’s fiancée.  The connection to make here would be that in a sense Rachel Menken represents Suzanne.  All throughout the first season, practically all of the viewers notice and comprehend the idea that most of the men in the show are not obedient to their wives.  Personally, the opera, The Marriage of Figaro, was just the original version of the series, Mad Men, dating back to the Eighteenth Century.

On a side note, let it be known that the popular line “Figaro, Figaro, Figaro!” is not actually in the opera, The Marriage of Figaro.  However, it is in the prequel, The Barber of Seville, in which this phrase was coined. 

To think that I always thought Figaro was just the cute kitten created by the Walt Disney Company! 

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1 comment:

  1. Great piece, not knowing the history behind the marriage of figaro, besides the music it fits very well into the episode and into the sphere of Mad Men too. I wish i had known about the plot to help compare it to the episode as you did. Good connection to the series but the additional information about the marriage of figaro added a better understanding for it being played in the episode.