The Paris Review

Sing, Together, as Long as We’re Alive

A conversation about ¡Figaro! 90210 and immigrants’ rights at the opera.


Mozart’s 1786 opera Le nozze di Figaro has been set in a Trump Tower penthouse and at a Jewish wedding in contemporary Germany. Now, for a week in New York City, Vid Guerrerio’s adaptation, ¡Figaro! 90210, sets Mozart’s music to an English/Spanish libretto—and puts Conti in a red baseball cap. Of course, the plot still features two spirited, ingenious working people trying to free themselves from the abuses of the powerful, but now Figaro and Susana are undocumented Mexican household workers singing their opening duet in Spanish, on the grounds of the Beverly Hills mansion of their pussy-grabbing employer, Mr. Conti. Susana explains that the boss has given them a pool-house apartment to facilitate his assaults on her: “I see this coming when he tell me he help me get my visa … ‘Good girls, they get green cards. Girls who don’t obey their boss get deported.’ ”

lends itself well to this kind of reworking; rebellion is in its DNA. Its eighteenth-century premiere came only a few years before the French and Haitian Revolutions. The opera derived from a play by Beaumarchais (who was also an for the American Revolution) of which Louis XVI said, “For this play not to be a danger, the Bastille would have to be torn downwas for. Not everybody, we observed, was happy with the adaptation. 

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