The Shawshank Redemption And The Marriage Of Figaro

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What does one imagine when viewing a comic opera? A ornamented opera house? Patrons dressed in black tie apparel? However, would one imagine a comic opera playing in a maximum-security prison? Would uneducated prisoners appreciate the music? In The Shawshank Redemption both of these events occurred. In The Shawshank Redemption, Andy Dufresne plays an duet from Mozart’s comic opera, The Marriage to Figaro, as its Enlightened ideals represent Andy’s prison experience and its Classical characteristics evoke a sense of hope in the repressed prison. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro reflects the social and musical influence of the Classical period. Socially, The Marriage of Figaro reflects the ideals of the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment was “was a period that saw the institutions of Europe—religious, political, social, educational, industrial, financial and artistic—slowly but inexorably lower their focus from the ruling aristocratic and clerical classes to a new class of people. For want of a better term, we call this new and rising class of people the middle class” (Greenberg “Opera Buffa”). The Enlightenment placed an emphasis on the “‘natural man’” or the common man, not just the aristocratic class (Kerman and Tomlinson Listen 153). Consequently, Mozart focused his comic operas on lower to middle class protagonists like the servants Figaro and Susanna whose marital bliss is delayed by nobles (“Synopsis: Le Nozze di Figaro” The Metropolitan Opera). Another
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