Tuesday, February 20, 2018

February 20, 1816: Rossini's Barber of Seville premiered

Last updated August 29, 2018.

Il Barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville)

Gioacchino Rossini (composer)

Composed: 1816

First Performed: February 20, 1816

Sales: --

Peak: --

Quotable: “Widely considered the greatest of comic operas” – Joseph Stevenson, All Music Guide

Genre: classical > opera


  • Overture

    Act I:

  • a. "Piano, pianissimo"
    b. "Ecco, ridente in cielo"
  • "Mille grazie"
  • "Largo al factotum"
  • "Se il mio nome"
  • a. "Oh cielo"
    b. "All'idea di quel metallo"
    c. "Numero quindici"
  • a. "Una voce poco fa"
    b. "Io son docile"
  • "La calunnia"
  • "Dunque io son la fortunata?"
  • "A un dottor della mia sorte"
  • "Ehi, di casa!"
  • "Fredda ed immobile"

    Act II:

  • "Pace e gioia"
  • "Contro un cor" (Lesson Scene: Rosina & Count Almaviva)
  • "Don Basilio!... Cosa veggo!"
  • "Buona sera, mio signore"
  • "Il vecchiotto cera moglie"
  • "Storm Music"
  • "Ah! qual colpo inaspettato... Zitti, zitti"
  • "Cessa di piu resistere"
  • "Di si felice"

    Replacement arias:

  • a. "Ma forse, ahime Lindoro"
    b. "L'innoenza di Lindoro"
  • "La mia pace, la mia calma"

  • Average Duration: 132:30


    The Barber of Seville “has proven to be one of the greatest masterpieces of comedy within music.” WK It is “widely considered the greatest of comic operas.” JS It is an opera buffa in two acts. The Italian libretto, by Cesare Sterbini, was based on the 1775 French Comedy Le Barbier de Séville by Pierre Beaumarchais. WK in which nobility were depicted as buffoons dependent on their servants. JS “After two hundred years, it remains a popular work.” WK

    The opera premiered at the Teatro Argentina in Rome on February 20, 1816. WK It “was a fiasco.” JS In 1782, Giovanni Paisello composed an opera, also called The Barber of Seville, based on the same story. Rossini got permission from Paisello to compose a new opera based on the same text and initially called his Almaviva. JS

    However, the premiere was “a fiasco” JS marked by “under-rehearsal, sloppy production, and stage effects which failed to work properly,” JS not to mention followers of Paisiello determined to sabotage the production. JS A reworked version of the opera, however, “was a success, and by the third performance it resulted in ovations and quickly went on to sweep the operatic world.” JS

    “The plot involves the efforts of the amorous young Count Almaviva to woo and win the lovely Rosina, in the process outwitting her ward, Dr. Bartolo, who fancies her for himself. There are textual difference among production of the opera. The primary decision is whether Rosina’s part should be sung by a mezzo-soprano (as Rossini originally intended) or by a soprano, as it has commonly been done since 1826, apparently with Rossini’s permission. An aria for Bartolo was lost, and has been replaced by one composed by a composer named Romani. And the Lesson Scene is also lost, so the soprano gets to choose music by another composer to use in its place. Some of the great popular numbers in the opera are Almaviva’s serenade Ecco ridente in cielo and the more passionate Se il mio nome. Rosina’s Una voce poco fa is probably the most popular of all coloratura arias, while Bartolo gets his own aria, La Calunnia (Calumny), all about the evil power of slander. Incidentally, the famous overture to the opera, which is probably among the most frequently heard compositions of Rossini’s in the concert hall, was not composed originally for this opera at all! Rossini was short of time, so he simply grabbed an overture he had written earlier.” JS

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