Il Barbiere di Siviglia by Gioachino Rossini
The opera programme in September 2011 is particularly intense: La Traviata and Don
Giovanni are on the programme at Teatro La Fenice while from 2nd September 2011 onwards
Teatro Malibran is to be venue to another nineteenth century cornerstone of Italian opera (and
cultural identity): Gioachino Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia, a comic melodrama in two acts to
the libretto by Cesare Sterbini based on the same-named comedy by Beaumarchais, back on the
programme with the same successful production by Bepi Morassi (direction), Lauro Crisman (set
and costumes) and Vilmo Furian (lighting), performed at Teatro Malibran in 2003 and then once
again at La Fenice in 2008 and 2010.
After its première, initially a fiasco, at Teatro Argentina in Rome on 20th February 1816, the
opera met with resounding success during its repeat performances, after which it became one of the
most frequently performed operas, and Rossini’s masterpiece par excellence.
The twenty-four year old from Verona, Andrea Battistoni (2nd-3rd-14th-15th-16th-17th-
18th September 2011) and Giovanni Battista Rigon (6th-7th-8th-9th ottobre 2011) will conduct
the Orchestra and Choir of Teatro La Fenice. The first cast is the same as during the 2010
Carnival period with Enrico Iviglia (alternating with Dmitry Trunov) as Conte d’Almaviva,
Elia Fabbian (alternating with Omar Montanari) as Bartolo, Manuela Custer (alternating with
Marina Comparato) as Rosina, Christian Senn (alternating with Giorgio Caoduro) as Figaro, Luca
Dall’Amico as Basilio, William Corrò as Fiorello and Giovanna Donadini as Berta.
The première on Friday 2nd September 2011 at 19.00 will be followed by ten repeat
performances, of which only one is part of the subscription cycles: Saturday 3rd at 15.30,
Wednesday 14th, Thursday 15th and Friday 16th at 19.00, Saturday 17th (subscription cycle C) and
Sunday 18th at 15.30, Thursday 6th and Friday 7th October at 19.00, Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th at
In December 1815, when Rossini had already made his name as a composer, he signed a
contract with Teatro Argentina to compose a comic opera for the following Carnival. Composed in
just a few weeks to a libretto by Cesare Sterbini based on the comedy Le barbier de Séville ou La
précaution inutile by Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais (Paris 1775), the opera had its debut
on February 20th 1816 with the title Almaviva ossia L’inutile precauzione, both out of reverence
towards Paisiello who had already made his name with the Barbiere (Saint Petersburg 1782), and to
highlight the role of the tenor Manuel Garcia, who had become one of the leads. After the fiasco of
the première, the opera was a resounding success during the final evenings of Carnival, after which
it remained one of the most frequently performed operas in the world.
In the city of Seville the aged Don Bartolo keeps his pupil Rosina isolated in the house
because he wishes to marry her. Figaro, a barber who is full of fantasy and resources, helps Count
Almaviva conquest the woman he loves, Rosina, and she returns his affections. After various
escapades with disguises and exchanging notes, Figaro and Almaviva manage to fulfil their project.
the two young lovers get married, Don Bartolo receives Rosina’s dowry and the opera ends in
The libretto remains faithful to Beaumarchais’s comedy and even emphasizes the more
specific aspects and develops them into new situations, for example Rosina, the prototype of
decisive, resourceful femininity. In general, all the characters realistically and they participate in the
action – when they sing the plot continues or they are responding to strong communicative needs.
The musical pieces are also of great importance and they take up a good part of the score – First and
foremost the grandiose finale in act one.