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The Barber of Seville

Production conductor – Alexander Anisimov,
Production director –  Mikhail Pandzhavidze (Minsk),
Production designer –  Alexander Kostyuchenko (Minsk).
Costume designer: Eleonora Grigoruk (Minsk).
Lighting designer: Sergey Shevchenko (Minsk).

Rossini's opera recounts the events of the first of the three plays by French playwright Pierre de Beaumarchais that revolve around the clever and enterprising character named Figaro, the barber of the title. Mozart's opera The Marriage of Figaro, composed 30 years earlier in 1786, is based on the second part of the Beaumarchais trilogy. The first Beaumarchais play was originally conceived as an opéra comique, but was rejected as such by the Comédie-Italienne. The play as it is now known was premiered in 1775 by the Comédie-Française at the Théâtre des Tuileries in Paris.

Other operas based on the first play were composed by Giovanni Paisiello (his Il barbiere di Siviglia premiered in 1782), by Nicolas Isouard in 1796, and then by Francesco Morlacchi in 1816. Though the work of Paisiello triumphed for a time, only Rossini's version has stood the test of time and continues to be a mainstay of operatic repertoire. On 11 November 1868, two days before Rossini's death, the composer Costantino Dall'Argine (1842–1877) premiered an opera based on the same libretto as Rossini's work, bearing a dedication to Rossini. The premiere was not a failure, but critics condemned the "audacity" of the young composer and the work is now forgotten.

Rossini was well known for being remarkably productive, completing an average of two operas per year for 19 years, and in some years writing as many as four. Musicologists believe that, true to form, the music for Il barbiere di Siviglia was composed in just under three weeks, although the famous overture was actually recycled from two earlier Rossini operas, Aureliano in Palmira and Elisabetta, regina d'Inghilterra and thus contains none of the thematic material in Il barbiere di Siviglia itself.

The premiere of Rossini's opera at the Teatro Argentina in Rome was a disaster: the audience hissed and jeered throughout, and several on-stage accidents occurred. Furthermore, many of the audience were supporters of one of Rossini's rivals, Giovanni Paisiello, who played on mob mentality to provoke the rest of the audience to dislike the opera. Paisiello had already composed The Barber of Seville and took Rossini's new version to be an affront to his version. In particular, Paisiello and his followers were opposed to the use of basso buffo, which is common in comic opera.The second performance, however, was successful.The original French play, Le Barbier de Séville, had a similar story: poorly received at first, only to become a favorite within a week.

The opera was first performed in England on 10 March 1818 at the King's Theatre in London in Italian, soon followed on 13 October at the Covent Garden Theatre by an English version translated by John Fawcett and Daniel Terry. It was first performed in America on 3 May 1819 in English (probably the Covent Garden version) at the Park Theatre in New York. It was given in French at the Théâtre d'Orléans in New Orleans on 4 March 1823, and became the first opera ever to be performed in Italian in New York, when Manuel Garcia (who played Almaviva) and his Italian troupe opened their first season there with Il barbiere on 29 November 1825 at the Park Theatre. The cast of eight had three other members of his family, including the 17-year-old Maria-Felicia, later known as Maria Malibran.

The role of Rosina was originally written for a contralto. According to music critic Richard Osborne, writing in The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, "it is important to record the degree to which singers have sometimes distorted Rossini’s intentions. The most serious distortion has been the upward transposition of the role of Rosina, turning her from a lustrous alto into a pert soprano". However, it has also been noted that Rossini, who frequently altered his music for specific singers, wrote a new aria for the second act for Joséphine Fodor-Mainvielle, a soprano who had sung Rosina in the 1818 London premiere, and sang the new aria c. 1820 at the Théâtre-Italien in Paris, where it was published.

The singing lesson in act 2 has often been turned into "a show-stopping cabaret."Adelina Patti was known to include Luigi Arditi's "Il bacio", the Bolero from Verdi's I vespri siciliani, the Shadow Song from Meyerbeer's Dinorah, and Henry Bishop's "Home! Sweet Home!". Nellie Melba followed suit, accompanying herself on the piano in the final song. Pauline Viardot began the practice of inserting Alexander Alyabyev's "Nightingale". Maria Callas sang a cut-down version of Rossini's own "Contro un cor."

Once after Patti had sung a particularly florid rendition of the opera's legitimate aria, 'Una voce poco fa', Rossini is reported to have asked her: "Very nice, my dear, and who wrote the piece you have just performed?"

The piece is a staple of the operatic repertoire. Because of a scarcity of true contraltos, the role of Rosina has most frequently been sung by a coloratura mezzo-soprano (with or without pitch alterations, depending on the singer), and has in the past, and occasionally in more recent times, been sung by coloratura sopranos such as Marcella Sembrich, Maria Callas, Roberta Peters, Gianna D'Angelo, Victoria de los Ángeles, Beverly Sills, Lily Pons, Diana Damrau, Edita Gruberová, Kathleen Battle and Luciana Serra. Famous recent mezzo-soprano Rosinas include Marilyn Horne, Teresa Berganza, Lucia Valentini Terrani, Susanne Marsee, Cecilia Bartoli, Joyce DiDonato, Jennifer Larmore, Elīna Garanča, and Vesselina Kasarova. Famous contralto Rosinas include Ewa Podleś.


Act 1

Count Almaviva disguised as Lindoro serenades beneath the balcony of the beautiful Rosina. Rosina is a ward of the elderly Bartolo who plans to marry her to appropriate her dowry.
Figaro approaches. The Count asks him for assistance in helping him meet Rosina, offering him lots of money. Figaro advises the Count to disguise himself as a drunken soldier, ordered to be billeted with Bartolo, so as to gain entrance to the house.
At home, Rosina plans to make Lindoro hers. As she leaves the room, Bartolo and Basilio enter. Bartolo is suspicious of the Count, and Basilio advises that he be put out of the way by creating false rumours about him.
Figaro asks Rosina to write a note to Lindoro, which she has actually already written. Although surprised by Bartolo, Rosina manages to fool him, but he remains suspicious.
Count Almaviva, disguised as a soldier and pretending to be drunk, enters the house and demands to be quartered there. Bartolo and the Count argue. Basilio and Figaro come. Finally, the noise attracts the attention of the Officer of the Watch and his troops, who crowd into the room. Bartolo demands that the Officer arrest the drunken soldier, but Almaviva quietly reveals his true identity to the Officer, and he backs off and stands down. Bartolo and Basilio are astonished and mystified; Figaro laughs quietly at them. Everyone admits that the entire situation is utterly crazy.

Act II

Almaviva again appears at the doctor's house, this time disguised as a music teacher and pretending to act as substitute for the supposedly ailing Basilio, Rosina's regular instructor. Initially, Bartolo is suspicious, but does allow Almaviva to enter when the Count gives him Rosina's letter. He describes his plan to discredit Lindoro whom he believes to be one of the Count's servants, intent on pursuing women for his master. While Almaviva pretends to give Rosina her singing lesson, Figaro arrives to shave Bartolo. When Basilio suddenly appears, he is bribed by a full purse from Almaviva and persuaded to leave again, with much discussion of how ill he looks. Figaro begins to shave Bartolo, but Bartolo overhears the lovers conspiring, and angrily drives everybody away.
Bartolo orders Basilio to have the notary ready to marry him to Rosina that evening. He also explains his plot to come between the lovers. Basilio leaves and Rosina arrives. Bartolo shows Rosina the letter she wrote to Lindoro, and persuades her that this is evidence that Lindoro is merely a flunky of Almaviva and is toying with her at Almaviva's behest. Rosina believes him and agrees to marry him.
A thunderstorm. The Count and Figaro climb up a ladder to the balcony and enter Rosina’s room. Rosina accuses Lindoro of betraying her. Almaviva reveals his identity and the two reconcile. Basilio and the notary arrive. The Count, Rosina, and Figaro attempt to leave by way of the ladder, but it has been removed. The Count makes Basilio an offer he can't refuse: the choice of accepting a bribe and being a witness to his marriage or receiving two bullets in the head. Basilio and Figaro witness the signatures to a marriage contract between the Count and Rosina. Bartolo barges in, but too late; the marriage is already complete. The befuddled Bartolo (who was the one who had removed the ladder) is pacified by being allowed to retain Rosina's dowry. The comedy ends with total reconciliation.

332-25-09 - касса театра; 333-42-66 - отдел театрально маркетинга и продаж   
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Count Almaviva
Bartolo, doctor of medicine, Rosina's guardian
Rosina, rich pupil in Bartolo's house
Figaro, barber
Basilio, Rosina's music teacher, hypocrite
Berta, old governess in Bartolo's house
Fiorello, Almaviva's servant
Ambrogio, Bartolo's servant
Police Sergeant ("Officer")
A notary
Officers, soldiers, street-musicians

Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868). 

Librettist: Cesare Sterbini.
Based on Beaumarchais's comedy Le Barbier de Séville.

Premiere: 20 February 1816,
Teatro Argentina, Rome

Genre: Opera
Language : Italian (Russian surtitles)
Original title: Il Barbiere di Siviglia
Title: The Barber of Seville
Duration: 3 часа 10 мин
Acts count: 2
Premiere date: 21 November 2013
Age restriction: 12+

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