“Sull’aria… che soave zeffiretto” (On the breeze…What a gentle little Zephyr) is a short duet, from act 3 of the opera The Marriage of Figaro. A duet is a musical composition for two performers in which the performers have equal importance to the piece. The Marriage of Figaro is a comic opera composed in 1786 by Mozart, with an Italian libretto (text) written by Lorenzo Da Ponte.
The opera tells how the servants Figaro and Susanna succeed in getting married, foiling the efforts of their philandering employer Count Almaviva to seduce Susanna and teaching him a lesson in fidelity. In today’s extract, Countess Almaviva is dictating to Susanna an invitation addressed to the countess’ husband in a plot to expose his infidelity.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791) is widely recognised as one of the greatest composers in the history of classical music. He was a child prodigy, playing keyboard and violin and composing from the age of five. He went on to compose more than 600 works during his short lifetime.
Mozart’s most popular compositions have often been used in films. One that we have already heard is the Clarinet Concerto in A Major which has featured in several films including ‘The King’s Speech’ and ‘Out of Africa’. Today’s extract from The Marriage of Figaro was used in a famous scene in the 1994 drama film, The Shawshank Redemption (age rating 15).