Most recent performance
There are currently no scheduled performances of Il barbiere di Siviglia. It was last on stage 13 September—11 October 2016 as part of the Autumn 2016/17 season.
Count Almaviva arrives in Seville to search for the mysterious woman he met in Madrid. When he learns that she is Rosina, due to be married to her tyrannical guardian Bartolo, he enlists the help of the cunning barber Figaro to win her hand.
Almaviva and Rosina fall in love, and Rosina turns her mind to duping Bartolo. The combined conniving of all three is too much for Bartolo, who has to admit defeat when he discovers Almaviva and Rosina have married right under his nose.
The 23-year-old Gioachino Rossini completed his masterpiece Il barbiere di Siviglia with incredible speed – legend has it in just 13 days – which Rossini attributed to ‘facility and lots of instinct’. He adapted Pierre-Augustin Beaumarchais’ play Le Barbier de Séville, part of a dramatic trilogy that also inspired Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro. Within a few decades of its 1816 premiere, Il barbiere di Siviglia had been seen around the world, reaching opera houses in New York, Buenos Aires, Trinidad and Ecuador. The opera is characterized by youthful energy and bold wit: these qualities are brought to the fore in Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier’s colourful and inventive production, a popular favourite at the Royal Opera House since its premiere in 2005.
Il barbiere di Siviglia has all the right ingredients for comic chaos: an imprisoned young woman, her lecherous guardian and a young noble suitor. Skilfully plotting behind the scenes is Figaro – an irrepressible and inventive character in whom many have seen a resemblance to the young Rossini himself. The score fizzes with musical brilliance, from Figaro’s famous entrance aria ‘Largo al factotum’ to the frenzy of the Act I finale, when the five principal voices all pile on top of each other.
News and features
22 May 2017
There's more to the art form than doom and gloom, as a number of comic gems prove.
27 September 2016
Far from a random choice, why making Figaro a barber gives the hero of Mozart and Rossini's operas a controversial, revolutionary spin.
14 September 2016
Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier’s production of Il barbiere di Siviglia has been a firm favourite at the Royal Opera House since its 2005 premiere.
2 September 2016
Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser’s production of Rossini’s most popular comedy thinks outside the box by performing within one.
25 August 2016
Upcoming radio broadcasts from Covent Garden include Così fan tutte, Norma and The Barber of Seville.
19 August 2016
Planning your next holiday? Tour opera and ballet settings to experience the locations that inspired composers and choreographers.
The Barber of Seville, or The Futile Precaution (Italian: Il barbiere di Siviglia, ossia L'inutile precauzione [il barˈbjɛːre di siˈviʎʎa osˈsiːa l iˈnuːtile prekautˈtsjoːne] eel bar-BYAIR-ay dee-see-VEEL-la) is an opera buffa in two acts by Gioachino Rossini with an Italian libretto by Cesare Sterbini. The libretto was based on Pierre Beaumarchais's French comedy Le Barbier de Séville (1775). The première of Rossini's opera (under the title Almaviva, o sia L'inutile precauzione) took place on 20 February 1816 at the Teatro Argentina, Rome. Rossini's Barber has proven to be one of the greatest masterpieces of comedy within music, and has been described as the opera buffa of all "opere buffe". Even after two hundred years, it remains a popular work.