Most recent performance
There are currently no scheduled performances of Il barbiere di Siviglia. It was last on stage 19 September—5 October 2014 as part of the Autumn 2014/15 season.
Count Almaviva arrives in Seville to find the mysterious woman he met in Madrid. When he learns that she, Rosina, is engaged to her tyrannical guardian Bartolo, he asks the cunning barber Figaro to help him 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 admits 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 incredibly quickly – legend has it in just 13 days – which Rossini attributed to ‘facility and lots of instinct’. He drew on Pierre-Augustin Beaumarchais’ play Le Barbier de Seville – part of a dramatic trilogy that also inspired Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro. The opera is characterized by youthful energy and bold wit: qualities brought to the fore in Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier’s colourful production.
Il barbiere di Siviglia has all the 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 pile on top of each other. Within a few decades of its 1816 premiere, Il barbiere di Siviglia had been toured round the world, reaching opera houses in New York, Buenos Aires, Trinidad and Ecuador. It has remained one of the most prominent and popular operas in the repertory.
News and features
18 November 2014
Conductor Mark Elder and mezzo-soprano Rachel Kelly explore the music of Rossini through Il barbiere di Siviglia.
2 October 2014
The enclosed set of The Royal Opera's production of Rossini's masterpiece heightens the comedy and the pathos.
23 September 2014
Storms as a narrative and compositional device in Rigoletto, Idomeneo and Il barbiere di Siviglia.
18 September 2014
Rossini scales new comic heights in this brilliant finale, a tangled web of farce that shows off his skill in writing for ensembles.
10 September 2014
Straitjacketed by musical and theatrical convention, how did Rossini create one operatic masterpiece, let alone ten?
5 September 2014
Our quick guide to Rossini's comic masterpiece, The Barber of Seville.
The Barber of Seville, or The Futile Precaution (Italian: Il barbiere di Siviglia, ossia L'inutile precauzione) 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, its popularity on the modern opera stage attests to that greatness.