Marking the 206th anniversary of the first representation of the opera on 20th February 1816 in Rome
A quick creation
Il barbiere di Siviglia – The barber of Seville is one of the most popular operas, with hundreds of performances each year in many opera houses around the world. Vivacious music, a continuous sequence of virtuoso numbers and comic intrigue have made this opera a favourite with the public since its premiere in Rome at the Teatro Argentina in February 1816. Astonishingly, the opera was composed by Gioacchino Rossini in just under three weeks, with a firework sequence of virtuoso numbers for the protagonists of the piece of theatre, The famous overture does not contain any of the musical themes of the opera and is most probably a rework of previous material by Rossini for earlier operas,
The storyline behind Rossini’s opera is a tried and tested plot by Pierre Beaumarchais, popular with comic theatre in Paris since 1775. The barber of Seville tells the story of the beautiful Rosina, and of the Count of Almaviva who wants to marry her. The obstacle is the old guardian of the girl, Don Bartolo, who is determined to marry Rosina for the dowry and has no intention of letting a young man upset his plans. The Count of Almaviva must then resort to stratagems. Don Bartolo wanders around with disguises and false identities. He gets help from Figaro, his friend’s barber but at the service of his old rival, until he manages to make Rosina fall in love, who nevertheless believes he is reciprocating a certain Lindoro. But once the true identity is revealed, and renounced the dowry, the Count finally manages to marry his beloved.
A firework of musical numbers
The Barber of Seville is a masterpiece of comic opera, with music and a plot that have survived more than two hundred years of performances around the globe, The libretto was written by Cesare Sterbini, based on Pierre Beaumarchais’s French comedy Le Barbier de Séville, a play that had been used as the inspiring springboard for many operas. Rossini’s version seems to be the only one that is standing the test of time, with many representations every year after its premiere in 1816, Rossini’s score includes some famous tunes: among them, “Largo al factotum” (also known as “The Barber’s Song”), whose popularity has led to its fortune. The cavatina for female voice, Una voce poco fa, sung by Rosina, is another bravura piece and has been sung also transposed for different voices, according to the characteristics of the interpreter,
A un dottor della mia sorte, To a doctor of my fate is one of the most difficult funny arias of the entire operatic repertoire, a piece of skill for a bass; the melody follows the boring tone of Dr. Bartolo, and then at a certain point (from ‘Signorina un’altra volta’) it acquires a very excited tone; the words become a pounding syllable, barely distinguishable from each other: keeping the rhythm and marking the sounds in an understandable way is really a feat for those who perform it. It almost looks like a ‘rap’ ante litteram!
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