The instrumental parts to Figures in the Garden composed by Jonathan Dove. Arranged for Wind Octet.
For their 1991 Mozart bicentenary celebrations, Glyndebourne commissioned five composers to write wind serenades. Each serenade was to be musically connected in some way with one of Mozart’s operas, and to be played outdoors before the performance of the opera. I was asked to compose a piece to precede The Marriage of Figaro. Although Mozart’s comic masterpiece needs no introduction, musically or otherwise, I was attracted by the aptness of playing a serenade in the garden before performances of an opera whose last act is set in a garden, and which itself includes a number of serenades: Voi che spaete, Deh vieni, non tardar, and Suzanna and the countess’ letter-writing duet Canzonetta su sull ‘aria’. I had the idea that with all the performances of The Marriage of Figaro that had taken place at Glyndebourne, sounds from the opera had in some way impregnated the garden: snatches of recitative, musical figures, instrumental colours. I didn’t want to overwork Mozart’s tunes – it would be disastrous if the audience were tired of them before the opera had even begun – but each movement of Figures in the Garden is developed from a musical idea in the opera. Here and there an alternative scenario emerges: Suzanna sings her aria in the rain (because it’s an English garden), and Figaro and Suzanna finally enjoy a moment of shared tranquillity that is denied them in the opera.