The Barber of Seville, Opera by G. Rossini
Two hundred years on, The Barber of Seville still reigns the world stages from Milan to Sydney and from London to New York City as one of the greatest comedy operas of all time. In the space of two acts, Gioachino Rossini single-handedly defined the genre of ‘opera buffa’ and set a standard that many have aspired to reach ever since. On 20 February 1816, the work premiered at Teatro Argentina in Rome under the title Almaviva, o sia L'inutile precauzione (‘Almaviva, or the Uselessness of Precaution’ in English). Rossini had tried to avoid angering fellow composer Giovanni Paisiello, who had written his own Il Barbiere di Siviglia in the 1780’s. Unfortunately, the veteran had taken notice, and his supporters ruined the premiere with boos and jeers. And yet, already the second performance was a complete success, and soon the only ‘Barber of Seville’ in people’s minds was the one by Rossini. At Arena di Verona, the laughs and the melodies ring even louder and truer this season! To round off your experience in the City of Love, your ticket includes a sightseeing tour through the Old Town as well!
The story of the cunning Sevillan barber Figaro has served as inspiration for many composers. ‘The Barber of Seville’, a play by Pierre Beaumarchais from 1775, was the basis for Rossini’s hit comedy. Cesare Sterbini produced the libretto. The storyline focuses on Count Almaviva and his witty servant Figaro. The Count is in love with the young Rosina, but there is a problem: her guardian, the old Dr Bartolo, has his own romantic plans with her. Thanks to Figaro’s clever advice and machinations, Count Almaviva uses several disguises to get close to Rosina with Bartolo none the wiser. Each next deceit is more comical and ridiculous than the last, and in the end, true love will surely triumph. The genuinely funny plot of The Barber of Seville is matched perfectly by Rossini’s creative and lively score. Figaro’s opening aria ‘Largo al factotum della città’ is a staple in popular culture, but there are so many more gems you will discover at Arena di Verona this season.
The joy of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville can only be made bigger and fuller by the bonus attached to the performance: a 25-minute sightseeing train ride through Verona’s numerous historic sites. Starting at Piazza Brà, the ‘trenino’ covers many of the city’s landmarks. From ancient Roman structures to the Duomo di Verona, the Sanctuary of the Madonna of Lourdes, the Castelvecchio, Castel San Pietro, and the panoramic riverbank of the Adige River, the round trip is a breath-taking summary of what the City of Love has to offer. You can take the train tour on the day of the performance or do so on the day before or after. The tour leaves every 30 minutes right next to Arena di Verona.