The Barber of Seville | Gioachino Rossini
A barber who arranges marriages, a count pretending to be a drunken soldier, a sweet girl ready to turn into a snake... In Rossini's Barber of Seville nothing is as it seems, because only deception can make love triumph. The protagonist, Rosina, would like to marry Count Almaviva but her guardian, the perfidious Don Bartolo, prevents her from doing so. The only ally of the lovers is the barber Figaro, who will unravel the knots of a tangled plot armed only with comb, scissors and extraordinary astuteness.
Since its debut in 1816, the opera has entertained generations of listeners. Its secret? A story full of surprises and extraordinarily energetic music, featuring some of the most famous numbers in the history of melodrama, such as Largo al factotum sung by Figaro as he comes on stage.
After enjoying personal success in the previous seasons, Maestro Diego Fasolis returns to the Regio to take on this great classic as a specialist: as an acknowledged expert in the eighteenth and early nineteenth-century repertoire, he brings the score's original colours to life by working with a talented young cast, respecting the interpretative methods of Rossini's era. Rosina and the Count's love affairs come to life on an Andalusian patio, in a cheerful late 18th-century atmosphere revisited through the potion of dreams and poetry. Director Pierre-Emmanuel Rousseau retains the Andalusian setting with vibrant costumes inspired by Goya, choosing to envelope the lively atmosphere with a dreamlike, poetic feel.
For the first time in Turin
Lecture: Wednesday 18 January 2023 at 6pm
Opera buffa in two acts
Characters and cast
Josè Maria Lo Monaco
Scene I. In a square in Seville.
Towards dawn, outside the house of the elderly doctor Don Bartolo, a group of musicians has gathered; it is conducted by Fiorello, Count Almaviva’s servant. The Count is there to serenade the beautiful Rosina, the favourite of Bartolo, whom he caught a glimpse of in Madrid and fell in love with. Receiving no response, he sends the musicians away; in that moment, the resourceful barber Figaro, factotum della città, arrives. Figaro explains to the Count – an old acquaintance of his – that Bartolo is his client and the guardian, not the father, of the girl. Rosina appears in order to let drop a letter to the unknown suitor, but Bartolo, noticing her stealthy behaviour, becomes suspicious and decides to put into action his plan to marry her and obtain the rich dowry. He leaves, ordering the servants to allow no-one to enter. Accompanied on the guitar by Figaro, Almaviva answers Rosina’s questions with another serenade, telling her that his name is Lindoro and that he is poor. But how can he meet her? Figaro’s craftiness, stirred by the prospect of a reward, produces a plan on the spot: Almaviva will pretend to be part of the regiment that has just arrived in the city, and will enter with a billet.
Scene II. A room in Don Bartolo’s house.
Rosina, thrilled by the words of Lindoro, imagines that her guardian will use every means to stand in her way, but the old man will meet his match. In the meantime, she gets a message to the young man through Figaro, who has arrived to sound out her feelings; their conversation is interrupted, however, by the arrival of the dismayed Bartolo. Accompanied by Rosina’s music teacher, Don Basilio, he tells him the rumour that Count Almaviva, in love with Rosina, is in town, and suggests that only a calumny can put the powerful aristocrat out of action; they then go off to prepare the marriage contract. Finally Figaro is able to speak to Rosina: he confirms Lindoro’s love for her, and suggests that she should answer with a note. Mischievously, Rosina pretends to hesitate, but then gives him a note, already prepared. Don Bartolo re-enters, and confronts Rosina with his suspicions: what is he doing hanging around, that scheming Figaro? Why is a piece of paper missing from the writing desk and the pen has been sharpened? Why is her finger stained with ink? In short, what is happening? Don’t think, you impudent girl, that a doctor of his stature can be content with ingenuous explanations! At this point, Almaviva knocks at the door, disguised as a soldier and pretending to be drunk, and presents his billet, but Bartolo shows him a document that exempts him from providing lodging to soldiers. Almaviva tries to grab it, and takes advantage of the resulting confusion to slip a note to Rosina. Bartolo demands to see it, but Rosina manages to exchange it with the laundry list. In the meantime, Basilio and the maid Berta have hastened to the scene, joined by Figaro, who announces that the loud noise has attracted a crowd in the square. In fact, guards burst in to arrest the troublesome drunk, but Almaviva secretly reveals his true identity to the official, and the guards leave without arresting him, leaving everyone shocked and disoriented.
Scene I. In Don Bartolo’s house.
While Bartolo reflects, speculating that Almaviva is involved in the events, the Count reappears, this time passing himself off as Don Alonso, a music-teacher sent by Basilio to give a lesson, on account of the latter’s illness. To obtain Bartolo’s confidence, he gives him Rosina’s letter, claiming to have found it at the inn where the Count stays, and offers to show it to Rosina with the explanation that he was given it by a mistress of the Count, in order to prove to her that Almaviva is making fun of her. Acknowledging him as worthy of Basilio for his skill as a slanderer, Bartolo permits the music lesson to take place: Rosina sings an aria from the opera The Useless Precaution. “Brava, a beautiful voice – comments the teacher – but modern music isn’t as good as the music of my time”: by way of example, he hums an aria of an older style. In the meantime, Figaro convinces Bartolo to have a shave, and manages to obtain from him the key of the balcony. Basilio suddenly appears, but the three conspirators convince him, with the help of a full purse, to confirm the story of his presumed illness and go away. The two young people can finally arrange together for their elopement, but an imprudent word rekindles Bartolo’s suspicions, and he chases everyone away. Left alone, the elderly maid Berta comments on love, which makes both young and old delirious.
Scene II. The same place.
Basilio has never heard of Don Alfonso. Another scheme of the Count? In any case, they had better move swiftly. Bartolo sends him to find the notary who will draw up the marriage contract, and then, showing Rosina the note obtained from Don Alonso, convinces her that Lindoro is an impostor, sent by the devious Almaviva. Rosina, out of spite, agrees to marry her guardian and discloses to him the plan, agreed upon with Figaro, for their escape at midnight. Don Bartolo leaves to call the officers of justice to arrest Figaro and Lindoro, who, appearing at the appointed time, enter from the balcony while a storm is raging and clear up the misunderstanding with the indignant Rosina: Lindoro is none other than the famous Count of Almaviva. The two happy lovers are about to escape through the window, followed by Figaro, when they realize that the doctor has taken the ‘useless precaution’ of removing the ladder. Basilio arrives with the notary; the first is silenced by the Count with a valuable ring, while the second is convinced by Figaro, with yet another ruse, to celebrate immediately the marriage of the two young people. Bartolo returns too late: the Count shows him the marriage contract. He also asks him not to provoke his anger any further, and reassures him about the thing worrying him most: he can keep for himself the girl’s dowry. Bartolo finally accepts the outcome, and everyone rejoices over the happy ending.