Il Barbiere di Siviglia

Opera buffa in 2 acts
by Gioachino Rossini
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Libretto by

Cesare Sterbini

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Music by

Gioachino Rossini

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Lasting

3 Hours approximately - Intervals included

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Arena di Verona

From August 4th 2018 for 5 evenings Gioachino Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia is staged transforming the Roman Amphitheatre into the grand garden created by Hugo de Ana in 2007, enriched by Leda Lojodice’s fun choreography and characterized by the giant, evocative roses.

ACT 1

It’s almost dawn. In a square in Seville, a young nobleman, Count Almaviva, organizes a serenade for a girl met some time before at the Prado in Madrid, but whose name he does not know. In fact, the elderly man who accompanied her to the museum – probably her father – had prevented any contact. However, the girl doesn’t come to the window and, after the musicians leave, the Count, discouraged, can only give vent to his feelings on his servant Fiorello.

Somebody is heard arriving, singing to himself. Almaviva cautiously hides, but the obtruder is an old acquaintance, Figaro, a barber and jack-of-all-trades. The Count explains his problem and the “factotum” immediately offers to help him. He knows the girl well and goes to her house to work: Rosina is not in fact Doctor Bartolo’s daughter, but his ward. But that’s not all. Her guardian, jealous and wary, keeps her under lock and key because he intends marrying her to get his hands on her dowry.

Just then, the balcony opens and Rosina drops a note, which Don Bartolo unsuccessfully tries to intercept. In the note, the girl informs her admirer that she is curious: she would like to know something about him and what his intentions are. Following Figaro’s advice, Almaviva therefore sings another serenade, declaring that is name is Lindoro and that he is a penniless student. He wants her to love him in spite of his social standing. Rosina plays along with him, and the elated Count promises Figaro a generous reward for his help. The thought of the money stimulates the barber’s imagination, and he suggests Almaviva disguises himself as a soldier. A regiment is arriving in Seville: with a false billeting permit, the Count will be able to request accommodation at Don Bartolo’s house and finally talk to the girl.

Don Bartolo’s house. Rosina, wily and resourceful, has decided to assert herself: she has written a letter to her young suitor and intends having it delivered by Figaro. The barber arrives shortly after, but is immediately compelled to hide. In fact, Don Bartolo and Don Basilio, Rosina’s singing teacher, enter. The guardian, having sensed the existence of a suitor, wants to speed up the marriage procedure. Basilio, a hypocritical shady operator and swindler, has discovered that Almaviva, Rosina’s suitor, has arrived in town, and suggests Don Bartolo that slander would be the best way to put him out of the running.

The pair leave to prepare the marriage contract, but Figaro has overheard everything. He tells Rosina of the plot and, after having confirmed that Lindoro, whom he passes off as his cousin, is in love with her, tells her that the young man will try to enter the house. He therefore suggests she gives her suitor a small sign of encouragement. No sooner said than done: Rosina gives the barber the letter she had already prepared.

Figaro leaves and Don Bartolo enters. Nothing slips the suspicious old man: he notices that Rosina has used pen and paper and reprimands her. But then someone knocks at the door: the Count enters, disguised as a soldier and pretending to be drunk. Don Bartolo attempts unsuccessfully to send him away. When Rosina arrives, Almaviva reveals his identity and tries to pass her a note, but the tutor notices and, just in time, the girl manages to replace it with the laundry list. At the climax of the confusion, someone else knocks at the door: the guards. The Count secretly reveals his true identity to the officer who orders his arrest and, to everybody’s astonishment, is released. Nobody understands what is happening.

ACT 2

Don Bartolo has just got home. He has been to the regiment to obtain information regarding the soldier, without success. He therefore begins to suspect that the strange individual is a spy sent by Almaviva. At that precise moment, the Count himself arrives at the door, disguised as a music teacher. After greeting Don Bartolo several times with a grovelling whine, he says that his name is Don Alonso and that he is a pupil of Don Basilio. He has come to replace the teacher, who is ill, for Rosina’s singing lesson. To convince the suspicious tutor, he gives him the note written by Rosina, maintaining he found it in the inn in which the Count is lodged: he then shows it to the girl, leading her to believe that he got it from a sweetheart of Almaviva. Don Bartolo is convinced: this Alonso is a slanderer, a worthy pupil of his teacher Basilio. The lesson therefore begins and, although kept under close watch by the tutor, the two youngsters manage to talk.

As agreed with the Count, Figaro then arrives to shave Don Bartolo and, without being seen, takes advantage of this to steal the key to the balcony, from which Rosina will be able to elope with her sweetheart. Everything seems to be proceeding well, but Don Basilio arrives unexpectedly to upset their plans. The Count manages to send the intruder away, giving him a purse of money and, while Figaro shaves Don Bartolo, the two youngsters finally manage to arrange their elopement at midnight. However, a word let slip carelessly by Almaviva once more arouses the suspicion of Don Bartolo, who discovers the deception and sends them all away. Left alone, Berta the maid reflects on the madness reigning in the house and on love, which makes both young and old people crazy - herself included.

Don Basilio confirms that he does not know who Don Alonso is. Having discovered the latest plot by the Count, Don Bartolo decides to find a notary to draw up the marriage contract that same evening. He then shows Rosina the note received from the false singing teacher, convincing her that he and Figaro want to kidnap her to hand her over to Almaviva. Rosina, out of spite, agrees to marry the elderly man and tells him of her plans to elope. Don Bartolo runs off to call the guards.

Night has fallen and a storm is raging over Seville. Right on time for the appointment, the Count and Figaro enter from the balcony, reached using a ladder, but are met by a furious Rosina. The misunderstanding is soon cleared up: Lindoro and the Count are in fact one and the same person. Happy and more in love than ever, the two sweethearts are about to leave, followed by Figaro, but their escape is thwarted: Don Bartolo has removed the ladder leading up to the window. To complicate things further, Don Basilio arrives with the notary. But Figaro’s astuteness once more saves the day: pretending to be the owner of the house, he introduces Rosina to the notary as his niece and has him marry Rosina and the Count. Don Basilio is convinced to act as a witness to the marriage.

When the tutor returns with the guards to have the intruders arrested, the deed is already done. The Count reveals his identity and position. He invites Don Bartolo not to provoke his anger further and, in the end, calms him by renouncing his claim to the girl’s dowry. The old man resigns himself, while all the others wish the newly-weds everlasting love.