Il Barbiere Di Seviglia

In two acts by ROSSINI.

This opera may be called a miracle of Rossini's creation, as it not

only is his best work, but was written by him in a fortnight, a

performance nearly incredible, for the music is so finely worked out,

and so elegant, that the opera has grown to be a favorite with all


The subject, taken from Beaumarchais' witty trilogy of "Figaros" had

ere this lent inspiration to more than one composer; Mozart's

"Figaro", though done before the "Barbiere" is in a certain sense the

continuation of Rossini's opera.

The Barbiere had the peculiar misfortune, to experience an utter

reverse on the occasion of its first representation. It was composed

for the Duke Cesarini, proprietor of the Argentina theatre in Rome, and

the cabals and intrigues of Paesiello's partisans (who had composed the

same subject) turned the balance in Rossini's disfavor. But on the

second evening good taste prevailed, and since then the opera has been

a universal favorite.

Beaumarchais' tale was worked out anew by the Roman poet, Sterbini; in

our opera it runs as follows:

Count Almaviva is enamoured of Rosina, the ward of Doctor Bartolo. She

is most jealously guarded by the old man, who wishes to make her his

own wife. In vain the Count serenades her; she does not appear, and he

must needs invent some other means of obtaining his object. Making the

acquaintance of the lighthearted and cunning barber Figaro, the latter

advises him to get entrance into Bartolo's house in the guise of a

soldier possessing a billet of quartering for his lodgings. Rosina

herself has not failed to hear the sweet love-songs of the Count, known

to her only under the simple name of Lindoro; and with southern

passion, and the lightheartedness, which characterizes all the persons

who figure in this opera, but which is not to be mistaken for

frivolity, Rosina loves her nice lover and is willing to be his

own. Figaro has told her of Almaviva's love, and in return she gives

him a note, which she has written in secret. But the old Doctor is a

sly fox, he has seen the inky little finger, and determines to keep his

eyes open.

When the Count appears in the guise of a half-drunken dragoon, the

Doctor sends Rosina away, and tries to put the soldier out of the

house, pretending to have a license against all billets. The Count

resists, and while Bartolo seeks for his license, makes love to Rosina,

but after the Doctor's return there arises such an uproar, that all the

neighbors and finally the guards appear, who counsel the Count to

retire for once.

In the second act the Count gains entrance to Bartolo's house as a

singing-master who is deputed to give a lesson instead of the

feverstricken Basilio. Of course the music-lesson is turned into a


When all seems to be going well, the real Maestro, Basilio, enters and

all but frustrates their plans. With gold and promises Figaro bribes

him to retreat, and the lovers agree to flee on the coming night.

Almost at the last moment the cunning of Bartolo hinders the projected

elopement, he shows a letter, which Rosina has written, and makes

Rosina believe that her lover, whom she only knows as Lindoro, in

concert with Figaro is betraying her to the Count. Great is her joy,

when she detects, that Lindoro and Count Almaviva are one and the

same person, and that he loves her as truly as ever.--They bribe the

old notary, who has been sent for by Bartolo to arrange his own

(Bartolo's) wedding with Rosina. Bartolo signs the contract of

marriage, with Figaro as witness, and detects too late that he has been

duped, and that he has himself united the lovers. At last he submits

with pretty good grace to the inevitable, and contents himself with

Rosina's dowry, which the Count generously transfers to him.

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