The Barber of Seville, Opera by G. Rossini
There is no shortage of great comic operas dedicated to Beaumarchais’ immortal character Figaro, the adorable barber and trickster who applies his quick wit to rescue true love. Gioachino Rossini added his contribution to that list on 20 February 1816 when The Barber of Seville debuted at the Teatro Argentina in Rome under the original Italian title Almaviva o sia l’inutile precauzione (Almaviva, or the Useless Precaution in English). More than two centuries later, the opera still ranks as the composer’s finest, and St Mark’s Anglican Church in Florence hosts a special performance that breathes new life into the celebrated music.
Instead of the usual orchestral backing and huge ensemble, this version of The Barber of Seville (Il barbiere di Siviglia) features only five singers accompanied by a grand piano. Such musical austerity matches the regal interior of St Mark’s and allows you to experience Rossini’s talent from up close. The energy and hilarity of the classic opera are still there, but the toned-down arrangement gives the performance a totally new quality. If you are a fan of the original, this unique production is bound to open up new perspectives on a favourite work. On the other hand, if this is your first encounter with The Barber of Seville, what better way to get acquainted with the celebrated opera than in this intimate performance?
The plot centres on a love triangle between the young Count Almaviva, his love interest Rosina, and her guardian, the much older Dr Bartolo who plots to make her his own wife. Touched by the two lovers’ plight, the barber Figaro devises a plan full of hilarious twists and turns in order to help love prevail. Even if you can anticipate the happy ending, the road to it is still more than worth your while!
Rossini was famous for his quick working routine. Still, it is astounding to think he penned a masterpiece like The Barber of Seville in less than three weeks! The minimalist presentation of this magical work at St Mark’s Anglican Church is a wonderful tribute to a remarkable composer.