THE BARBER OF SEVILLE
Music by Gioacchino Rossini
Libretto by Cesare Sterbini
Sung in Italian with English surtitles
Length: Approximately 3 hours, including 1 intermission
MATTHEW WORTH AS FIGARO | DANIELA MACK AS ROSINA | JESUS GARCIA AS COUNT ALMAVIVA, with David Crawford as Basilio & Steven Condy as Bartolo
Conducted by David Angus & directed by Rosetta Cucchi, Scenic Design by Julia Noulin-Mérat, Costume Design by Gianluca Falaschi, Lighting Design by D.M. Wood
The Count Almaviva is smitten with Rosina, the beautiful ward of old Dr. Bartolo, who intends to marry her. Figaro, barber extraordinaire, offers to help Almaviva win her heart. The Count tells Rosina that he is “Lindoro,” a humble student. Figaro suggests that Almaviva disguise himself as a soldier in order to gain access to Dr. Bartolo’s house.
The enamored Rosina writes a letter to “Lindoro” and vows to be with the man she loves. Basilio, her music teacher, warns Dr. Bartolo about the Count, and Bartolo decides to speed up his own marriage to Rosina. Almaviva arrives disguised as a drunken soldier but is refused entry—although he manages to slip Rosina a love note. Almaviva narrowly avoids arrest in the resulting confusion.
Later that day, Almaviva disguises himself as “Don Alonso,” a substitute music teacher, and the lovers plot their elopement during Rosina’s singing lesson. Figaro distracts Bartolo with a shave, but finally Bartolo get suspicious and throws everyone out.
Now, Bartolo is determined to marry Rosina that very night. He convinces Rosina that Lindoro is plotting with the Count to seduce her. Heartbroken, she agrees to marry Bartolo.
That night, Figaro and Almaviva steal into Rosina’s room. She accuses them of betrayal, but finally Almaviva reveals his true identity. Bartolo and a group of soldiers aren’t far behind—can Figaro’s quick wits win the day for love?
The Barber of Seville is an exemplar of bel canto, a style of singing that originated in Italy, developed during the Baroque era, and peaked during the first part of the 19th century. Translated literally as “beautiful singing,” the bel canto tradition is marked by a beautiful, even tone throughout the voice, legato (smooth) phrasing, and florid, highly ornamented passages and vocal fireworks. The definition of bel canto is somewhat open to interpretation, but many bel canto operas remain popular today,
including Norma (with its famous soprano aria, “Casta diva”), La Fille du Régiment (Pavarotti nailed the tenor aria’s series of high C’s to wild acclaim), and Lucia di Lammermoor (with its tour de force mad scene for a murderous soprano).
ROSSINI BELLINI, ANYONE?
After an explosively successful career, Rossini officially retired in 1829 when he was only in his late 30s. The majority of his later years were spent in Paris, where he fully indulged his reputation as
a food connoisseur and excellent amateur chef. There are dozens of recipes “alla Rossini”—probably the most famous is Tournedos Rossini (filet mignon served on toasted bread and topped with foie gras and truffles).
In the mood for a beverage before the opera?
The Rossini Bellini:
Mix 16 halved strawberries with two tablespoons sugar and allow to macerate for about an hour. Blend the strawberries, put a couple of tablespoons of the puree in the bottom of each glass, and top with Prosecco. (San Francisco Classical Voice’s instructions.)
The Barber of Seville opens on October 12! Tickets & more information:
Images (top to bottom): Matthew Worth, Daniela Mack, and Jesus Garcia; A costume rendering for the character of Rosina by designer Gianluca Falaschi; Rossini, photographed in 1865 by Étienne Carjat.