the music is, of course, from a Mozart Opera, The Marriage of Figaro. The screenplay back then was a revolutionary work: literally. Because it preached against the aristocracy's excesses at a time when wise monarchs rightly feared revolution was in the air.
Years ago, I saw the PeterSellars version on PBS, done in modern dress and moved to modern day Manhattan.
He sees Mozart's egalitarianism as perfectly reflecting the new order that, 200 years ago, was "sweeping away the rot and decay of the upper classes." All eight principals in the opera, he says, the servants and the aristocrats, end up as equals.
So Mr. Sellars had no qualms about switching the scene from a chateau near Seville in the 18th century to an apartment in Trump Tower in Manhattan today. "Thank God," he says, "the feudal system remains firmly in place in the United States of America in the 90's."Heh.
Similarly, in Trading places, there is a bite behind it's humor: about inequality, about eugenics, and a satire on the old families who were uberrich who thought they had the right to run things and manipulate other people's lives.
Saddest scene: when the enter the Twin Towers.