This is our second visit this week to Mozart’s comic opera, The Marriage of Figaro. The aria “Non so più cosa son” (I don’t know anymore what I am) is sung by Cherubino, Count Almaviva’s young male page. In this aria, Cherubino confesses his blossoming interest in all things feminine and particularly for his “beautiful godmother” – the Countess. Traditionally, the role of Cherubino is played by a female singer dressed as a man. In opera this is known as a ‘trouser role‘ which is a theatrical term used to denote a role which is portrayed by a performer of the opposite sex.
Cherubino is perhaps the best known trouser (travesti) role in opera, and is a prominent role in Mozart‘s The Marriage of Figaro. Although titled as ‘Count Almaviva’s page’, in his first appearance, Cherubino bursts into the room, enlisting the Countess’s maid Susanna to help him to be reinstated to the role (the Count had discovered him with the gardener’s daughter and dismissed him). Despite being sent to Seville in the Count’s army regiment, Cherubino remains, leading to farcical situations hiding from Count Almaviva. The page has a reputation for falling in love with every woman he comes across (including the Countess, leading to more outrage from the Count), leading to increasingly ridiculous situations – dressing as Susanna in an attempt to trick the Count (a case of a woman portraying a man portraying a woman).