- Gioachino Rossini. Commedia in two acts. 1815.
- Libretto by Cesare Sterbini, after Le barbier de Séville by Beaumarchais.
- First performance at the Teatro Argentina, Rome, on 20th February 1816.
|Count Almaviva ||tenor|
|Bartolo, a doctor in Seville ||basso buffo|
|Rosina, ward of Dr Bartolo ||mezzo-soprano|
|Figaro, a barber ||baritone|
|Don Basilio, a singing teacher ||bass|
|Fiorello, servant to the Count ||bass|
|Ambrogio, servant to Dr Bartolo ||bass|
|Berta, Dr Bartolo's housekeeper ||mezzo-soprano|
|Notary ||silent rôle|
Originally entitled Almaviva, ossia L’inutile precauzione (Almaviva, or The Useless Precaution),
to avoid the obvious comparison with the popular treatment of the same plot by Paisiello, Rossini’s
opera deals with the plan by Count Almaviva to woo Rosina and win her hand in marriage. With the
help of the barber and general factotum Figaro, he carries out his plan to outwit her guardian, Dr
Bartolo, who has his eye on his ward's fortune. Almaviva woos Rosina under the guise of a student,
Lindoro, exchanging notes with her, and gains entry to Dr Bartolo's house disguised as a drunken
officer, billeted on him, he alleges. The doctor claims exemption and summons the guard, who
allow the Count to go, when the officer in charge learns his identity, still concealed from Rosina and
her guardian. The Count next finds his way into the house as a substitute for the officious music-
master Don Basilio, giving Rosina a singing lesson, until Don Basilio appears and has to be bribed
to keep silent. After other turns of fortune, Dr Bartolo is thwarted in his intention to marry Rosina,
who is reconciled to the real identity of her lover.
Il barbiere di Siviglia remains the most popular of Rossini's comic operas, providing a witty and
lively score to accompany a series of incidents worthy of any farce. The first performance was
unsuccessful as a result of objections made by supporters of Paisiello's opera on the same subject.
The usual overture was that originally written for the opera Aureliano in Palmira , and the work
includes some of the best known of all operatic elements in Figaro's Largo al factotum and in
Rosina's Una voce poco fa (I heard a voice a little while ago), as well as the fulminations of Dr
Bartolo and Don Basilio's La calunnia (Slander), praise of a useful way to dispose of the Count.
Other well known elements in the score include the Count's first act serenade Ecco ridente in cielo
(Lo, smiling in the heaven), while the music-lesson scene may include a coloratura aria, if Rosina is
sung by a soprano, such as Alabyev's Nightingale, an opportunity for vocal display.