All's Well That Ends

In keeping with the wise insight that what originates as tragedy repeats itself as farce, true sequels more often than not are tales of disillusionment. Thus at least three attempts to spin out a future for the characters of Beaumarchais’s The Marriage of Figaro (the source for the Mozart opera) cast a jaundiced eye on the play’s happy resolution. The dramatist’s own La mère coupable (1791) is a sour and dyspeptic affair, and the recent opera The Ghosts of Versailles (1991), by John Corigliano and William M. Hoffman, abounds in bitter postmodernist ironies. Yet in neither of these is it the marriage of Figaro, barber and factotum extraordinaire, that runs up on the rocks. The Austrian playwright Ödön von Horváth was not so sentimental; he called his extrapolation from Beaumarchais Figaro Gels a Divorce (1935). This month the Yale Repertory Theatre, in New Haven, presents Figaro/Figaro, a single-evening adaptation of the Beaumarchais Marriage and the Horvath Divorce by Eric Overmyer, whose bestknown original work (On the Verge or The Geography of Yearning) bears witness to a sharp mind and a tender heart — an unbeatable combination. (December 1-17; call 203-432-1234.) —A.B.