Barbiere di Siviglia Il (The Barber of Seville) (Gioachino Rossini)
  • 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.
CHARACTERS
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
Officer baritone
Notary silent rôle

Originally entitled Almaviva, ossia Líinutile precauzione (Almaviva, or The Useless Precaution), to avoid the obvious comparison with the popular treatment of the same plot by Paisiello, Rossiniís 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.