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Metropolitan Opera Radio Broadcast: Il Barbiere di Siviglia 

Saturday, January 28, 2017, 1:00 P.M. (ET)

Broadcast barbiere hdl 217
Peter Mattei as Figaro in Il Barbiere di Siviglia at the Met
© Beatriz Schiller

The 2016–17 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.

Il Barbiere di Siviglia  


Libretto by CESARE STERBINI, after the play by Beaumarchais 

(in order of vocal appearance)
Fiorello  baritone, TYLER DUNCAN 
Count Almaviva  tenor, DMITRY KORCHAK 
Figaro  baritone,  PETER MATTEI 
Rosina  soprano, PRETTY YENDE 
Dr. Bartolo  bass-baritone, MAURIZIO MURARO 
Ambrogio  actor, ROB BESSERER 
Don Basilio  bass, MIKHAIL PETRENKO 
Berta  mezzo, KAROLINA PILOU 
Sergeant  tenor, MARK SCHOWALTER 
The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra  
The Metropolitan Opera Chorus  
Production: Bartlett Sher 
Set designer: Michael Yeargan 
Costume designer: Catherine Zuber 
Lighting designer: Christopher Akerlind 
Stage director: Kathleen Smith Belcher 
Chorus master: Donald Palumbo 
Musical preparation: Gregory Buchalter,  
Robert Morrison, Dan Saunders  
Assistant stage director: Eric Einhorn 
Harpsichord continuo: Robert Morrison 
Italian coach: Hemdi Kfir 
Production a gift of   
The Sybil B. Harrington Endowment Fund   
(Timings ET)
(Seville, 19th century) 
ACT I     1:00–2:41 
Sc. 1  Outside Bartolo’s house, before dawn   
Sc. 2  Inside his house, morning   
ACT II       3:11–4:10 
Sc. 1  The music room, evening   
Sc. 2  Inside 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


ACT I. Count Almaviva comes in disguise to the house of Dr. Bartolo to serenade Rosina ("Ecco ridente"). Dr. Bartolo keeps Rosina confined to the house. Almaviva pays the musicians and decides to wait until daylight in the hope of seeing her. Figaro the barber, who has access to the houses in Seville and knows the town's secrets and scandals, arrives and describes his busy life ("Largo al factotum"). The Count sings another serenade to Rosina, calling himself Lindoro, a poor student. Figaro devises a plan: the Count will disguise himself as a drunken soldier quartered at Dr. Bartolo's house to gain access to Rosina, whom Dr. Bartolo intends to marry. The Count is excited about this plan, while Figaro looks forward to a nice cash payoff from the grateful Count ("All'idea di quel metallo").

Rosina reflects on the voice that has enchanted her heart and resolves to use her considerable wiles to meet Lindoro ("Una voce poco fa"). Dr. Bartolo appears with Rosina's music master, Don Basilio, who warns him that Count Almaviva, Rosina's admirer, has been seen in Seville. Dr. Bartolo decides to marry Rosina immediately. Basilio praises slander as the most effective means of getting rid of Almaviva ("La calunnia"). Figaro overhears the plot, warns Rosina and promises to deliver a letter from her to Lindoro ("Dunque io son"). Suspicious of Rosina, Dr. Bartolo tries to prove that she has written a letter, but she outwits him at every turn. Dr. Bartolo is angry at her defiance and warns her not to trifle with him ("A un dottor della mia sorte").

Almaviva arrives, disguised as a drunken soldier, and passes Rosina a note, which she manages to hide from Dr. Bartolo. The old man argues that he has exemption from billeting soldiers. Figaro announces that a crowd has gathered in the street, curious about all the noise coming from inside the house. The civil guard bursts in to arrest the drunken soldier. The Count reveals his true identity to the captain and is instantly released. All but Figaro are amazed by this turn of events, and everyone comments on the crazy events of the morning. 

ACT II. Dr. Bartolo suspects that the "drunken soldier" was a spy planted by Almaviva. The Count returns, this time disguised as Don Alonso, a music teacher and student of Don Basilio ("Pace e gioia sia con voi"). He has come to give Rosina her music lesson in place of Basilio who, he says, is ill at home. "Don Alonso" also tells Dr. Bartolo that he is staying at the same inn as Almaviva and has found the letter from Rosina. He offers to tell Rosina that it was given to him by another woman, proving that Lindoro is toying with her on Almaviva's behalf. This convinces Dr. Bartolo that "Don Alonso" is a true student of Don Basilio, and he allows him to give Rosina her music lesson ("Contro un cor").

Figaro arrives to give Dr. Bartolo his shave and manages to snatch the key that opens the balcony shutters. The shaving is about to begin when Basilio shows up looking perfectly healthy. The Count, Rosina and Figaro convince Basilio, with repeated assurances and a quick bribe, that he is sick with scarlet fever ("Buona sera, mio signore"). Basilio leaves for home, confused but richer. The shaving begins, sufficiently distracting Dr. Bartolo from hearing Almaviva plotting with Rosina to elope that night. Dr. Bartolo hears the phrase "my disguise" and furiously realizes he has been tricked again. Everyone leaves.

The maid Berta comments on the crazy household ("Il vecchiotto cerca moglie").

Basilio is summoned and told to bring a notary, so Dr. Bartolo can marry Rosina that very evening. Dr. Bartolo then shows Rosina her letter to Lindoro. Heartbroken and convinced that she has been deceived, she agrees to marry Dr. Bartolo and tells him of the plan to elope with Lindoro. A storm passes. Figaro and the Count climb over the wall. Rosina is furious until Almaviva reveals his true identity. Basilio arrives with the notary. Given a choice between a valuable ring and a couple of bullets in the head, Basilio agrees to be a witness to the marriage of Rosina and Almaviva. Dr. Bartolo arrives with soldiers, but it is too late. Count Almaviva explains to Dr. Bartolo that it is useless to protest ("Cessa di più resistere"), and Dr. Bartolo accepts that he has been beaten. Figaro, Rosina and the Count celebrate their good fortune.


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.


Gaia Servadio's Rossini is a lively, well-researched modern life of the composer (Carroll & Graf). Stendhal'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 in 1958, performing with a cast of Metropolitan Opera regulars (RCA). Maria Callas's charming 1957 studio performance (EMI) belies her earlier onstage failure in the role at La Scala. 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.

On DVD, Juan Diego Flórez is a dazzling Almaviva at Madrid's Teatro Real (Decca). Maria Ewing (Rosina) and John Rawnsley (Figaro) star in John Cox's fresh, lively Glyndebourne Barbiere from 1987 (Kultur). The dewy charm of twenty-two-year-old Cecilia Bartoli's Rosina is the chief attraction in the 1988 Schwetzingen Festival Barbiere (Arthaus). 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 first-rate (DG; also DG CD). spacer

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