The barber of Sevilla
(Il Barbiere di Siviglia)
Composer Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868)
Three-act buffs (1816)
Cesare Sterbini’s Libretto, after a play by Pierre Beaumarchais (1732-1799), which takes the subject of a popular fable (Finta Pazza), turning it into a masterpiece of French comedy.
World premiere February 20, 1816 (titled Almaviva, ossia L’inutile precauzione), Teatro Argentina in Rome
Spectacle performed in Italian, over-titrated in Romanian.
A work written in just three weeks, Sevilla Barber, by Gioachino Rossini, is one of the most famous creations of the lyrical theater.
A square near Dr. Bartolo’s home at dawn. Count Almaviva, in love with Rosina, under the tutelage of the doctor, stares at the windows, accompanied by a group of musicians led by Fiorello. He sings to the young woman a serenade, then pays the musicians to urge them to withdraw. Staying alone, waiting to see the effect of serenade, but the proximity of someone forces him to hide. The new arrived is Figaro, a barber, renowned for his business skills, intrigues and love messages, former help of the Count. Almaviva recognizes him, and when he finds out that Figaro is Bertolo’s barber, he asks for help. Both of them are planning to enter the doctor’s house, who is guarding her protege in the hope of marrying her and thus claiming her dowry. His main help in this plan is the intriguing Don Basilio, a so-called singing professor. For a moment, Rosina appears at the balcony, letting her fall, before being pulled back by Bartolo, a small letter asking who the beautiful unknown singing her serenades is. Almaviva’s response is a song, in which the Count is portrayed as Lindoro, a poor student. Figaro’s plan to enter the house is simple: Almaviva, dressed as a soldier, will ask for charity in Bartolo’s house, then will try to talk to Rosina.
A room in Dr. Bartolo’s house. Rosina, alone, thinks of the young man in love. He interrupted Bartolo and Basilio, discussing the arrival of Almaviva and the danger he represents for the long-planned wedding between the doctor and Rosina. Cynic, Basilio describes to the doctor how Almaviva’s reputation can be destroyed in the eyes of Rosina. Together, the two leave to prepare the marriage contract. Figaro enters the house, who seeks to convince Rosina of Lindoro’s feelings, asking for a letter. But Rosina has already prepared a love letter. Bartolo returns from the desire to find out what kind of paper Rosina lost in the morning in the balcony. Not accepting excuses and explanations, he loathes her in a despotic way. Almaviva appears, dressed in military and pretending to be drunk. However, Bartolo opposes the Almaviva’s impudence and generates a general scandal involving all those in the house, hence Figaro, Don Basilio and Berta. In the turmoil sparked by their quarrel arrives the police who want to arrest Almaviva. But he shows the police chief his ring of a count and escapes unpunished. All those present are surprised by what happened.
A room in Dr. Bartolo’s house. While Bartolo is messing up, commenting on the happenings, Almaviva reappears, this time dressed as a music teacher. He remembers that he was sent by Don Basilio who, being sick, asked him to hold the singing lesson with Rosina. To convince Bartolo that he is trustworthy, he entrusted Rosina’s note to Almaviva, advising him to explain to her that she was from another woman to the count. The singing lesson begins, and as the doctor moans, the young men change their words of love, and Figaro, while shaving Bartolo, manages to steal the key from the balcony door. Don Basilio’s unexpected entrance is about to cause a catastrophe, a danger avoided by Almaviva, who bribes him to silence.
Bartolo sends Don Basilio after the notary, determined to close the wedding deal sooner. Bartolo finds out that Rosina wants to run away with her boyfriend, so she’s on guard to try and prevent them. Rosina finally finds out that her lover, Lindoro, and Count Almaviva are the same person. The two, along with Figaro, are heading for the balcony to run, but they cannot find the stairs anymore. Together with a notary, Don Basilio arrives, according to his character, accepts, surcharge, to become the witness of the Count and Rosina’s marriage. Eventually Bartolo, who receives the news of the marriage, and the Rosina dowry, generously offered by the rich Count Almaviva, finally appears.
Italian director Matteo Mazzoni appreciated that the Barber of Seville performance, prepared for the local public, is a modern one that the Opera can successfully export across Europe.
“From Rossini’s age we will come to what is happening in people’s homes today. With this passage in time, we will be able to convey what Rossini wanted to express through his music, “explained director Matteo Mazzoni.