So it was a hectic day and i decided to take off to my friend’s place to watch a light-hearted movie and have my favorite pizza from the nearby cafe. So after reaching, we ordered for a Spanish Fiesta pizza, Three Cheese sandwich and a Cheesecake to go with the movie. After watching the first 5 minutes of 2 – 3 so-called comedy movies, we decided to watch Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) played excellently by Robin Williams as you all are aware off! (Indian readers – you would know this as our very own Kamal Haasan’s Avvai Shanmugi or Chachi 420!)
Having never really seen the beginning of the film, i was pleasantly surprised to see that the movie opens with a familiar song, which i recall seeing in one of my favorite cartoon shows – Tom & Jerry! (The Cat Above and the Mouse Below) What i really loved about the episode was Tom singing a single word, “Figaro” repeatedly in his baritone voice and then WHAP! Jerry shoots a suction cup at Tom’s face!! Till this day, i crack up every single time i watch that scene! sigh, they don’t make cartoons like T&J anymore.
Coming back, the movie opens with Robin Williams dubbing for a cartoon, singing the “Figaro” song i was so fascinated with! Though the movie got over (including the yummy-licious food!), the song was stuck in my head, playing in auto loop. So, I headed home and Googled the song on the internet, and lo! a hundred relevant results, showing how popular this song was!
So here’s what i learnt – this song is called “Largo al Factotum”, an aria from the most famous comic opera “Il Barbiere di Siviglia” (The Barber of Seville) by Giaochino Rossini, an Italian composer from the late 18th century. The opera is described as a masterpiece and Rossini’s version is being played by several opera houses even today. The opera aside, the song is about a handyman/general servant called Figaro, who is happy and cheerful that the whole town comes to him for their needs. Largo al factotum literally means ‘Make way for the Handyman’ . After this, i started watching famous renditions of the song by Baritones from the last 15 – 20 years. Out of the many versions, my favorite was the one performed by John Rawnsley, my my what an amazing baritone! His stout frame and the 18th century costume suited him perfectly! I was instantly hooked and kept replaying for the next 2 hours determined to learn at least some of the tongue twisting lyrics! (i managed to learn the closing segment of the song!) See John’s fantastic performance below –
Awesome right? What is beautiful is the many times this song has been parodied by so many cartoons in the past! (Woody Woodpecker, Bugs Bunny, T&J) which makes me enjoy this even more, perhaps i would not have ever come across the song if not for Tom & Jerry 🙂
If you too are addicted to our “Figaro”, just go to Youtube to see/listen to other great renditions out there! (Even a Korean baritone has sung this Italian song!) You go do that, while i sing this to myself –
“Ah Bravo, Figaro, Bravo, Bravisimmo, a te fortuna a te fortuna a te fortuna, nan manchera! La la la la la la la la la!” 🙂
Until next time, cheers!