The Abduction of Figaro

The Abduction of Figaro is a comic opera, described as "A Simply Grand Opera by P. D. Q. Bach," which is actually the work of composer Peter Schickele. It is a parody of opera in general, and the title is a play on two operas by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: The Abduction from the Seraglio and The Marriage of Figaro. Those two operas, Così fan tutte, and Don Giovanni, as well as Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance are among the core inspirations for the piece.

Schickele was commissioned to "discover" this opera by the Minnesota Opera, where the piece premiered on April 27 and 28, 1984.[1] In addition to parodying Mozart, the music incorporates diverse influences and musical quotes, from traditional camp songs like "Found a Peanut" to popular songs like "Macho Man" by the Village People. The opera has been released on VHS and DVD.


RoleVoice typePremiere cast, 27 April 1984
(Conductor of Chorus, Corpse de Ballet,
Orchestra of the Minnesota Opera,
the Whole Schmeer: Peter Schickele)
Al Donfonso, Pasha Shaboom, Papa GenobassLeroy Lehr
Susanna Susannadanna, Mama Genomezzo-sopranoDana Krueger
PecadillotenorBruce Edwin Ford
Donna DonnasopranoMarilyn Brustadt
BlondiesopranoLisbeth Lloyd
Donald Giovannibass-baritoneMichael Burt
Schlepporelloalmost-a-baritoneJack Walsh
Captain KaddbassoWill Roy
Opecbargain counter tenorJohn Ferrante
Stage DirectorMichael Montel
ChoreographerLarry Hayden
Set DesignerJohn Lee Beatty
Costume DesignerGail Bakkom
Wig & Make-up MasterRichard Stead
Lighting DesignerRuth Roberts
Video EditorDaniel Mercure
Television DirectorKaye S. Lavine
Television ProducerStephen Schmidt
The theme to Culture On Parade is performed by the London Serpent Trio.

Synopsis of scenes

1. Introductory remarks by Prof. Peter Schickele
2. Opening credits
3. Overture
Act One: A town on the seacoast of Spain or Italy or somewhere
Scene One: Figaro's bedroom in the palace of Count Almamater
4. Introduction: "Found a peanut!"
5. Recitative: "Ah, dear husband"
    Aria: "Stay with me"
6. Recitative: "Suzanna"
7. Recitative: "Dog!"
    Aria: "Perfidy, thy name is Donald"
8. Recitative: "I am distraught"
9. Quartet: "Love is gone"
Scene Two: A courtyard of the palace
10. Recitative: "Well, here we are"
11. Aria: "Behold, fair maiden"
12. Recitative: "Just a moment"
      Duet: "Thy lofty tree"
Scene Three: Figaro's bedroom
13. Recitative: "And here is my husband"
14. Recitative: "Hold it!"
      Aria: "My name is Captain Kadd"
15. Recitative: "Now that you've heard"
16. Sextet: "What a downer!"
Scene Four: The courtyard
17. Recitative: "Schlepporello"
      Aria: "No man"
Scene Five: At the dock
18. Recitative: "What a strange turn of events"
19. Quintet and chorus: "Ah, though we must part"
20. Act I Finale

21. Introduction to Act II
Act Two: Somewhere in the Turkish Empire
Scene One: At the seashore
22. Duet: "God be praised"
Scene Two: In front of the Pasha's palace
23. Aria: "Fish gotta swim"
24. Chorus: "Hey, make way"
25. Dance of the Seven Pails
26. Recitative: "Your immenseness"
27. Duet, chorus, and dialogue: "Who is the highest"
28. Quartet: "May I introduce"
Scene Three: A courtyard of the palace
29. Dialogue and recitative: "Why?"
      Aria and dialogue: "Macho, macho"
30. Cavatina and dialogue: "You can beat me"
31. Act II Finale

Act Three: A tropical forest
32. Ballet
33. Trio and dialogue: "A magic forest"
34. Duet and dialogue: "I am a swineherd"
35. Finale (Part I) and dialogue
36. Aria and dialogue: "Why, oh why"
37. Finale (Part II)
38. Curtain calls and closing credits
39. Closing remarks by Prof. Schickele

DVD Bonus Selections

  • Excerpts from the "Gross" Concerto for Divers Flutes, S. -2 (P.D.Q. Bach)
  • Professor Peter Schickele in conversation with Gordon Hunt


  1. John Rockwell (30 April 1984). "Peter Schickele's Abduction of Figaro". New York Times. Retrieved 21 September 2007.
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