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Mating strategies in Mozart's Figaro

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

  • Tamas Dávid-Barrett
  • Anna Rotkirch
  • James Carney
  • Isabel Behncke Izquierdo
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2015
<mark>Journal</mark>Human Ethology Bulletin
Issue number1
Number of pages16
Pages (from-to)83-98
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Since its first performance in 1786, Mozart’s opera The Marriage of Figaro, written in close cooperation with opera’s librettist Da Ponte, has inspired a wealth of research in musicology and cultural studies. We study the social relationships of this opera using an evolutionary framework. The protagonists are analysed with respect to biologically-relevant individual traits like gender, social status and reproductive value and via the dyadic ties of sexuality, kinship and friendship. We argue that The Marriage of Figaro displays the major human male and female mating strategies with regards to long and short term relationships. The biological-relevance of the dense social network may explain part of this opera’s popularity across centuries, together with its musical, dramaturgical, and overall aesthetical qualities.