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Metropolitan Opera Radio Broadcast: The Barber of Seville 

Radio Broadcast of Saturday, December 26, 2015, 1:00 P.M. (ET)

Broadcast Barber of Seville hdl 1215
Rosina (Isabel Leonard) at the window of Bartolo’s house
© Beatriz Schiller
 
The 2015–16 Metropolitan Opera broadcast season is
sponsored by Toll Brothers, America’s luxury home builder®,
with generous long-term support from The Annenberg
Foundation, The Neubauer Family Foundation,
The Vincent A. Stabile Endowment for Broadcast Media,
and through contributions from listeners worldwide.

The Barber of Seville  

Music by GIOACHINO ROSSINI
Libretto by CESARE STERBINIafter the play by Beaumarchais
English translation by J.D. McCLATCHY
THE CAST    
(in order of vocal appearance)
Fiorello  baritone, YUNPENG WANG 
Count Almaviva  tenor, TAYLOR STAYTON 
Figaro  baritone, ELLIOT MADORE 
Rosina  mezzo, ISABEL LEONARD 
Dr. Bartolo  bass, VALERIANO LANCHAS 
Ambrogio  actor, ROB BESSERER 
Don Basilio  bass, ROBERT POMAKOV 
Berta  soprano, HOLLI HARRISON 
Sergeant  tenor, MARK SCHOWALTER 

Conducted by ANTONY WALKER

The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
The Metropolitan Opera Chorus

Production: Bartlett Sher
Set designer: Michael Yeargan
Costume designer: Catherine Zuber
Lighting designer: Christopher Akerlind
Chorus master: Donald Palumbo
Stage director: Kathleen Smith Belcher
Musical preparation: Robert Morrison,
Derrick Inouye, Dan Saunders

Assistant stage director: Daniel Rigazzi
Recitative accompanist: Robert Morrison

Abridged production a gift of
Mr. and Mrs. Wilmer J. Thomas, Jr.
Original production a gift of
The Sybil B. Harrington
Endowment Fund
 
 
THE SCENES    
Timings (ET)   
(Seville, 19th c.)
ACT I  1:00–1:57
    Sc. 1Outside Bartolo’s house, before dawn 
    Sc. 2Inside his house, morning 
ACT II  2:27–3:15
    Sc. 1The music room, evening 
    Sc. 2Inside the house, that night 
Host: Mary Jo Heath 
Commentator: Ira Siff 
Music producer: Jay David Saks 
Producers: Ellen Keel, William Berger 
Executive producers: Mia Bongiovanni,  
Elena Park 
 
This performance is also being broadcast
on Metropolitan Opera Radio on SiriusXM 
channel 74. 
 
Send quiz questions to Metropolitan Opera Quiz, 
Metropolitan Opera, 30 Lincoln Center, 
New York, NY 10023,
 

THE STORY 

ACT I. Seville. Count Almaviva comes in disguise to the house of Doctor Bartolo and serenades Rosina, whom Bartolo keeps confined to the house, beneath her balcony window. Figaro the barber, who knows all the town's secrets and scandals, arrives. He explains to Almaviva that Rosina is Bartolo's ward, not his daughter, and that the doctor intends to marry her. Figaro devises a plan: the count will disguise himself as a drunken soldier with orders to be quartered at Bartolo's house so that he may gain access to the girl. Almaviva is excited and Figaro looks forward to a nice cash pay-off.

Rosina reflects on the voice that has enchanted her and resolves to use her considerable wiles to meet its owner, whom the count leads her to believe is a poor student named Lindoro. Bartolo appears with Rosina's music master, Don Basilio. Basilio warns Bartolo that Count Almaviva, who has made known his admiration for Rosina, has been seen in Seville. Bartolo decides to marry Rosina immediately. Figaro, who has overheard the plot, warns Rosina and promises to deliver a note from her to Lindoro. Bartolo suspects that Rosina has indeed written a letter, but she outwits him at every turn. Angry at her defiance, Bartolo warns her not to trifle with him.

Almaviva arrives, creating a ruckus in his disguise as a drunken soldier, and secretly passes Rosina his own note. Bartolo is infuriated by the stranger's behavior and noisily claims that he has an official exemption from billeting soldiers. Figaro announces that a crowd has gathered in the street, curious about the argument they hear coming from inside the house. The civil guard bursts in to arrest Almaviva but when he secretly reveals his true identity to the captain he is instantly released. Everyone except Figaro is amazed by this turn of events.

ACT II. Bartolo suspects that the "soldier" was a spy planted by Almaviva. The count returns, this time disguised as Don Alonso, a music teacher and student of Don Basilio. He announces he will give Rosina her music lesson in place of Basilio, who, he says, is ill at home. "Don Alonso" tells Bartolo that he is staying at the same inn as Almaviva and has found a letter from Rosina. He offers to tell her that it was given to him by another woman, seemingly to prove that Lindoro is toying with Rosina on Almaviva's behalf. This convinces Bartolo that "Don Alonso" is indeed a student of the scheming Basilio, and he allows him to give Rosina her music lesson. She sings an aria, and, with Bartolo dozing off, Almaviva and Rosina express their love.

Figaro arrives to give Bartolo his shave and manages to snatch the key that opens the doors to Rosina's balcony. Suddenly Basilio shows up looking perfectly healthy. Almaviva, Rosina, and Figaro convince him with a quick bribe that he is sick with scarlet fever and must go home at once. While Bartolo gets his shave, Almaviva plots with Rosina to elope that night. But the doctor overhears them and furiously realizes he has been tricked again. Everyone disperses.

Bartolo summons Basilio, telling him to bring a notary so Bartolo can marry Rosina that very night. Bartolo then shows Rosina her letter to Lindoro, as proof that he is in league with Almaviva. Heartbroken and convinced that she has been deceived, she agrees to marry Bartolo. A thunderstorm rages. Figaro and the count climb a ladder to Rosina's balcony and let themselves in with the key. Rosina appears and confronts Lindoro, who finally reveals his true identity as Almaviva. Basilio shows up with the notary. Bribed and threatened, he agrees to be a witness to the marriage of Rosina and Almaviva. Bartolo arrives with soldiers, but it is too late. Almaviva explains to Bartolo that it is useless to protest and Bartolo accepts that he has been beaten. Figaro, Rosina, and the count celebrate their good fortune. 

THE BACKGROUND 

Gioachino Rossini's own tragicomic life story began on February 29, 1792, in Pesaro, where his father, a local "character," performed a Figaro-like round of duties as slaughterhouse inspector, town crier and sometime republican revolutionary. The mother being a soprano, Gioachino's parents toured provincial theaters, where the father played horn in orchestras and the boy studied horn, viola, piano and voice. After rising to eminence in Italy, Rossini met Beethoven, who urged him to "Give us more Barbers," but the younger composer persisted in writing serious works as well. The capstone of his achievement was Guillaume Tell, a French grand opera created when he was thirty-seven, after his move to Paris.

Il Barbiere di Siviglia, a product of Rossini's early twenties, was drawn from the first of three satirical plays about the barber Figaro by Beaumarchais. Rossini had several precursors in setting this subject, notably Giovanni Paisiello in 1782. At the premiere, at Rome's Argentina Theater on February 20, 1816, accidents onstage coincided with a cabal against the management by partisans of the rival Paisiello to create an all-out fiasco.

Rossini's work quickly rallied and enjoyed success elsewhere. Its first American production, in English, was at New York's Park Theater on May 3, 1819. The Met premiere came early in the first season of the newly built Opera House, on November 23, 1883, with Marcella Sembrich, a high coloratura soprano, as Rosina. The work is shared nowadays by mezzo-sopranos in the composer's original version, with some of the numbers in lower keys, and vocal runs going down instead of up. The current Met production, staged by Bartlett Sher, was first seen on November 10, 2006.

WHAT  TO  READ  AND  HEAR 

Gaia Servadio's Rossini is a lively, well-researched modern life of the composer (Carroll and Graf). Stendahl's classic nineteenth-century biography is available in paperback from Orion. The Cambridge Companion to Rossini, edited by Emanuele Senici, is a good place to begin study of the operas themselves (Cambridge).

On CD, Roberta Peters is caught at her zenith performing with a cast of Metropolitan Opera regulars (RCA), and Maria Callas (EMI), whose charming 1957 studio performance under Galliera belies her onstage failure in the role a year earlier, at La Scala, under Giulini. The peerless Victoria de los Angeles recorded Barbiere twice (both EMI); her later performance pairs her purring Rosina with the elegant Almaviva of Luigi Alva. Beverly Sills, Sherrill Milnes and Nicolai Gedda bring old-pro verve to a 1974 Barbiere, paced with precision by James Levine (EMI). The only English-language performance currently available on CD is the 1994 ENO recording conducted by Gabriele Bellini, with Della Jones, an especially ripe-toned Rosina, Bruce Ford and Alan Opie.

On DVD, Juan Diego Flórez and Joyce DiDonato are in dazzling form as Almaviva and Rosina at Covent Garden (Virgin). Ferruccio Furlanetto's Basilio joins Maria Ewing (Rosina) and John Rawnsley (Figaro) in John Cox's fresh, lively Glyndebourne Barbiere from 1987, conducted by Sylvain Cambreling (Kultur) The dewy charm of twenty-two-year-old Cecilia Bartoli's Rosina is the chief attraction in the 1988 Schwetzingen Festival Barbiere (Arthaus); Jennifer Larmore's more earthy heroine centers Dario Fo's unconventional Barbiere from Nederlandse Opera (Image Entertainment). The extravagant comic antics of Jean-Pierre Ponnelle's La Scala production, filmed in 1974, will not be to all tastes, but the principals — Alva, Teresa Berganza and Hermann Prey — and Claudio Abbado's witty, fleet conducting are all first-rate (DG; also DG CD). The 2007 HD transmission of Met's current Bartlett Sher staging, conducted by Maurizio Benini, is available for viewing as part of Met Opera on Demand. spacer 

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