Gioachino Rossini

Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville), opera

    Description by Joseph Stevenson

    This 1815 masterpiece is widely considered the greatest of comic operas. Even when operas of the bel canto period (Rossini's period of flourishing) were rarely performed, its frequent presence on operatic stages of the world was unabated. The first performance, in Rome in 1816 was a fiasco. The older opera composer Giovanni Paisiello had composed an opera on the same story, also called The Barber of Seville, in 1782. Rossini had misgivings about composing a new opera on the same text, so he first obtained Paisiello's gracious permission to go ahead, and originally called his new opera Almaviva. This did not prevent Paisiello's claque from sabotaging the premiere, a feat in which they were aided by under-rehearsal, sloppy production, and stage effects which failed to work properly. Soon afterward, with some changes, the opera was presented again. Without Paisiello's fans creating an uproar, the performance was a success, and by the third performance it resulted in ovations and quickly went on to sweep the operatic world. (As for Paisiello's opera, it was soon eclipsed by Rossini's, but more recently it has regained some appreciation in the operatic world.)

    The Barber of Seville is the first of a trilogy of plays by the French dramatist Beaumarchais. These plays, which tended to depict nobility as buffoons dependant on and manipulated by their wily servants, were considered subversive in the late 1700s. (The Marriage of Figaro, the second of the plays, was turned into an opera by Mozart in 1786. It is Rossini's opera, by the way, not Mozart's, which has the comic aria "Largo al factotum" containing the call: "Figaro, Figaro, Figaro.") Figaro is the barber of the title. 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 An aria for Bartolo was lost, and has been replaced by one composed by a composer named Romani.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.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Overture
    2. No. 2a, Piano, pianissimo
    3. No. 2b, Ecco, ridente in cielo
    4. No. 3, Mille grazie
    5. No. 4, Largo al factotum
    6. No. 5, Se il mio nome
    7. No. 6a, Oh cielo
    8. No. 6b, All'idea di quel metallo
    9. No. 6c, Numero quindici
    10. No. 7a, Una voce poco fa
    11. No. 7b, Io son docile
    12. No. 8, La calunnia è un venticello
    13. No. 9, Dunque io son la fortunata?
    14. No. 10, A un dottor della mia sorte
    15. No. 11, Ehi, di casa!
    16. No. 12, Fredda ed immobile
    17. No. 13, Pace e gioia
    18. No. 14, Contro un cor (Lesson Scene: Rosina & Count Almaviva)
    19. No. 15, Don Basilio!... Cosa veggo!
    20. No. 16, Buona sera, mio signore
    21. No. 17, Il vecchiotto cera moglie
    22. No. 18, Temporale (Storm Music)
    23. No. 19a, b, Ah! qual colpo inaspettato... Zitti, zitti
    24. No. 20, Cessa di più resistere
    25. No. 21, Di si felice
    26. No. 22a, Ma forse, ahime Lindoro, replacement aria
    27. No. 22b, L'innoenza di Lindoro, replacement aria
    28. No. 23, La mia pace, la mia calma, replacement aria

    Appears On

    Year Title / Performer Label / Catalog # AllMusic Rating
    2018
    Decca
    4833936
    2017
    Warner Classics
    0190295869052
    2015
    Bongiovanni
    HOC 08788
    2014
    Profil / Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler
    PH 14006
    2014
    RCA Red Seal
    88843003502
    2014
    Warner Classics
    634089
    2013
    United Classics
    T 2CD2012120
    2012
    Decca
    2012
    Deutsche Grammophon
    4790125
    2012
    Deutsche Grammophon / Universal / Universal Distribution
    2011
    ICA Classics
    ICAC 5046
    2011
    PentaTone Classics
    PTC5186190
    2011
    Deutsche Grammophon
    4779336
    2011
    Deutsche Grammophon
    2011
    Teldec / Teldec Classics
    4677005
    2011
    Warner Classics
    677003
    2011
    Sony Classical
    80462
    2011
    Decca
    446 448-2PH2
    2010
    EMI Classics / Warner Classics
    5099945644
    2010
    Decca
    4782497
    2010
    Brilliant Classics
    94018
    2009
    Opera D'Oro
    7072
    2009
    Sony Classical
    7527362
    2009
    Document
    231132
    2009
    EMI Classics
    2008
    EMI Classics / EMI Music Distribution
    3920462
    2008
    Nuova Era
    223299
    2007
    BRV
    9803
    2007
    EMI Classics
    2007
    EMI Classics / Warner Classics
    0946395918
    2007
    EMI Classics
    92041
    2007
    Warner Classics
    2007
    EuroArts
    2051248
    2007
    EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics
    0946393276
    2006
    Vox
    5159
    2006
    Myto Records
    62113
    2006
    Urania
    22298
    2006
    Sony Classical / Sony Music Distribution
    80429
    2006
    Deutsche Grammophon
    000616802
    2006
    IDIS
    6479/80
    2006
    Decca
    455883
    2005
    Gala Records
    759
    2005
    Nightingale
    4022
    2004
    Deutsche Grammophon
    4595002
    2004
    Great Opera Performances
    66304
    2004
    EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics
    7243585523
    2003
    Aura Classics
    1128
    2003
    EMI Classics
    2003
    EMI Music Distribution
    575269
    2002
    EMI Music Distribution
    677652
    2002
    EMI Classics
    5677622
    2001
    Sony Music Distribution
    28886
    2001
    IDIS
    347/8
    2001
    Preiser Records
    20009
    2001
    Gala Records
    579
    2000
    Chandos
    3025
    2000
    Opera D'Oro
    1264
    2000
    Arkadia
    2023
    1999
    London
    452591
    1999
    Golden Melodram
    20038
    1999
    Urania
    109
    1999
    EMI Music Distribution
    19967
    1998
    Deutsche Grammophon
    457733
    1998
    Nuova Era
    7289/91
    1998
    Testament
    2166
    1997
    Point Classics
    265030
    1997
    Arte Nova
    49703
    1997
    Grammofono 2000
    7872223
    1997
    Opera D'Oro
    1133
    1997
    EMI Music Distribution
    556310-2
    1996
    Royal Opera
    862142
    1996
    Arkadia
    78008
    1996
    Classical Collector
    150102
    1996
    EMI Music Distribution
    66040
    1996
    RCA Victor
    68552
    1995
    Various Artists
    Madacy
    0201
    1995
    Pantheon
    6644
    1995
    Myto Records
    91752
    1995
    GAO
    149
    1995
    Philips
    411058
    1994
    Madacy
    5413
    1994
    Madacy
    1052
    1994
    Various Artists
    Madacy
    3624
    1994
    Naxos
    660027
    1994
    Madacy
    3623
    1993
    EMI Music Distribution
    54863
    1993
    Teldec
    74885
    1992
    Deutsche Grammophon
    435763
    1990
    Sony Music Distribution
    37862
    1989
    London
    425520
    1986
    EMI Music Distribution
    47634
    1986
    Deutsche Grammophon
    415695
    Deutsche Grammophon
    437000
    Great Opera Performances
    765
    Sony Music Distribution
    23978
    Chandos
    7023/4
    London
    417692
    Mondo Musica
    10311
    VMK
    1054
    Panton Records
    1213
    Memories
    4525
    Opera Italia
    3
    Golden Age of Opera
    149
    Enterprise
    026
    Great Opera Performances
    723
    RCA
    6505
    Fonit-Cetra Italia
    6
    Ornamenti
    113
    Flowers
    026/27
    Urania
    DCO 33002
    ZYX
    100095
    Decca
    470434
    Le Monde de l'Opera
    10
    Mondo Musica
    96026
    Nesak International
    17000