Beaumarchais in Seville: An Intermezzo

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Yale University Press, 2006 - Biography & Autobiography - 177 pages
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In 1764-65, the irrepressible playwright Beaumarchais travelled to Madrid, where he immersed himself in the life and society of the day. Inspired by the places he had seen and the people he had met, Beaumarchais returned home to create "The Barber of Seville" and "The Marriage of Figaro", plays that became the basis for the operas by Rossini and Mozart that continue to delight audiences today. This book is a lively and original account of Beaumarchais's visit to Madrid (he never went to Seville) and a re-creation of the society that fired his imagination. Drawing on Beaumarchais's letters and commentaries, translated into English for the first time, Hugh Thomas investigates the full range of the playwright's activities in Madrid. He focuses particular attention on short plays that Beaumarchais attended and by which he was probably influenced, and he probes the inspirations for such widely recognized characters as the barber-valet Figaro, the lordly Count Almaviva, and the beautiful but deceived Rosine. Not neglecting Beaumarchais's many other pursuits (ranging from an endeavour to gain a contract for selling African slaves to an attempt to place his mistress as a spy in the bed of King Charles III), Lord Thomas provides a highly entertaining view of a vital moment in Madrid's history and in the creative life of the energetic Beaumarchais.
 

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Contents

Preface
Dramatis Personae
1 A Golden Age
2 A Letter from Madrid
3 A Journey to Spain
4 Clavijo
5 The Conquest of Clavijo
6 The Pursuit of Profit
7 Madame de Croix
8 Life in Madrid
9 At the Tables and to the Theatre
10 Leaving Madrid
Postscript
Bibliography
Index
Copyright

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About the author (2006)

Hugh Swynnerton Thomas was born in Windsor, England on October 21, 1931. After studying history at Cambridge University, he worked at the British Foreign Office and was secretary to the British delegation at major disarmament talks. He lectured at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, Britain's premier officer training establishment. From 1979 to 1990, he served as the chairman of the Center for Policy Studies, a right-wing policy institute. He was an unofficial adviser to Margaret Thatcher during the Falklands war against Argentina, enlisted because of his deep knowledge of South America. He wrote numerous fiction and nonfiction works. His novels included The World's Game, The Oxygen Age, and Klara. His nonfiction books included Cuba: The Pursuit of Freedom, A History of the World, Rivers of Gold, The Golden Empire, and World Without End. The Spanish Civil War won the Somerset Maugham Prize in 1962. He was made a life peer in 1981 as Baron Thomas of Swynnerton. He died after having a stroke on May 7, 2017 at the age of 85.

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