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 An aria for Bartolo was lost, and has been replaced by one composed by a composer named Romani.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 Label Catalog #
    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 Madacy 0201
    1995 Pantheon 6644
    1995 Myto Records 91752
    1995 GAO 149
    1995 Philips 411058
    1994 Madacy 5413
    1994 Madacy 1052
    1994 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