Great Moments In Opera, "Via, Resti Servita, Madama Brillante" From Mozart's "Figaro"

The aria "Via, Resti Servita, Madama Brillante" is basically two good women in love with the same man yet one older (Marcellina) and one younger (Susana); arguing over which one of them should go through the door first. Both trying to convince the other with what could be labeled as polite insults which could also be taken as compliments that it is their place to yield the right of way to the other.

Susana (the younger of the two and Figaro's fiancé) saying things like "madame of honor", "the love of Spain", "your habit" and "your age". It being this last comment which really seems to annoy Marcellina, (the older of the two) the lady of nobility; who responds in kind or perhaps in unkind by saying "the new wife, the belle of the count, your merits and your place. This as all the while they both repeat that they know their place in society and what is required of them. As they exchange offers for the other to go first by claiming "non primo le toca, (you first) non toca lei (no it should be you to go first).

As for the music during this witty exchange between these two ladies, who latter on would be friends though have clearly not arrived at that point; it is typical of Mozart's style in this opera. It being light and airy in a way that seems to be floating and constantly moving back and forth as if going from right to left and back again. This while Susana and Marcellina sing in perfect harmony with Marcellina starting the line to be continued by Susana as they create a lovely melody. It in a way being strange how Susana and Marcellina manage to sing in such a fashion that shows complete co-operation with each other. This in spite of the fact that they are trying to tear each other down with elegant verbal abuse.

In conclusion, I would say that it is a shame that "Via, Resti Servita, Madama Brillante" is often ignored when the best arias from Figaro are mentioned. I, being of the opinion that it really captures the brilliance of Mozart along with the wit and humor in this; one of the most popular operas ever written. I for my part, would also say that though many mezzo-sopranos have sung the role of Susana; it is Alison Hagley's interpretation which is definitely among the best I have ever heard. Alison Hagley's voice not only capturing the role of Susana to perfection but it even seeming that her joyful personality and looks had been created by nature to play the part of the scheming maid. This being how Mozart, himself describes the character of Susana or at least; the way he does in the film "Amadeus".

My name is Gianni Truvianni, author of many an article to be found on the internet along with the book "New York's Opera Society". My works also include the books "What Should Not Matter", "Love Your Sister" and several others which still remain unpublished though I am presently looking to change this.

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