The Barber of Seville
Watch Rossini's The Barber of Seville online for free from Sunday 19 July
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About the opera
The beautiful Rosina is kept all but prisoner by her guardian Dr Bartolo, who secretly hopes to marry his wealthy ward. But when Count Almaviva falls in love with Rosina from afar he enlists the help of cunning barber Figaro to help him outwit Bartolo. A comic battle of wills ensues, but will love or greed be triumphant?
Verdi thought it the greatest operatic comedy – a perfect marriage of wit, energy and exhilarating musical invention. Rossini’s score fizzes with virtuosic brilliance, combining bravura solo arias, set to some of the composer’s best-loved melodies, with breath-taking, intricate ensembles.
Embracing the opera’s Commedia dell’arte origins, Annabel Arden’s lively production is suffused with Spanish colour and warmth, with just a hint of the surreal. Enrique Mazzola conducts an all-star cast including Danielle de Niese, Alessandro Corbelli and Björn Bürger.
The Barber of Seville was captured live at Festival 2016. It is available on DVD from our shop.
Director of Movement
London Philharmonic Orchestra
The Glyndebourne Chorus
Danielle de Niese
Huw Montague Rendall
Tommy Luther, Maxime Nourissat, Jofre Caraben van der Meer
Photos: Bill Cooper
Outside Dr Bartolo’s house, Count Almaviva arrives disguised as Lindoro, an impoverished student, to serenade and win Rosina, who is confined indoors. The Count hopes that Rosina will love him for himself and not for his wealth and status. Figaro, the town barber, jack-of-all-trades, and busybody, arrives and tells the Count that Rosina is not Bartolo’s daughter but his ward and that Bartolo himself plans to marry her. Figaro suggests that the Count gain entrance to Bartolo’s house by disguising himself as a soldier with orders to lodge there.
Rosina, alone, reflects on her love for Lindoro and her plans for outwitting Bartolo in order to marry her young suitor, and warns that she can be formidable when crossed. As she leaves, Bartolo arrives with Basilio, Rosina’s music teacher, who warns Bartolo of Count Almaviva’s interest in Rosina. Basilio advises Bartolo to discredit the Count by spreading slander about him, and Bartolo resolves to marry Rosina immediately. Figaro, who has overheard them, encourages Rosina to write a letter to Lindoro which he will deliver.
The Count enters in the guise of a drunken soldier, demands lodging, and stealthily passes a note to Rosina. Bartolo claims exemption from quartering soldiers. Figaro appears, reporting that all of the hubbub has drawn a crowd outside the house. The police arrive to arrest the rowdy ‘soldier,’ but the disguised Count secretly reveals his true identity to their captain and is immediately released. Everyone – except Figaro – is flabbergasted by the events.
Count Almaviva turns up at Bartolo’s house again, now disguised as ‘Don Alonso’, a student of Basilio’s come to substitute for the purportedly ailing music teacher. ‘Don Alonso’ tells Bartolo that he has found a letter from Rosina at the inn where both he and Count Almaviva are staying, and he offers to aid in Bartolo’s plot. Now convinced that ‘Don Alonso’ is indeed a student of the scheming Basilio, Bartolo lets him enter to give Rosina her music lesson. As Bartolo snoozes, Rosina and her ‘Lindoro’ (the double-disguised Count) proclaim their love.
Figaro arrives to give Bartolo a shave and succeeds in secretly pocketing the key to Rosina’s balcony. When Basilio suddenly appears, Figaro, the Count and Rosina bribe him to feign sickness and go home. While Figaro shaves Bartolo, Rosina and the Count plot their elopement. But Bartolo overhears and chases everyone away.
Bartolo instructs Basilio to summon a notary to marry him to Rosina that evening. Bartolo then shows Rosina the very letter she wrote to ‘Lindoro’, ostensibly proving that her suitor is really just a procurer for Count Almaviva. Rosina, crestfallen, agrees to marry Bartolo.
After a thunderstorm rages and subsides, Figaro and the Count climb a ladder to Rosina’s balcony and enter her room with the key. After Rosina expresses her heartbreak at her apparent betrayal, the Count reveals his true identity. The lovers wax romantic while Figaro presses them to escape. But when the Count, Rosina and Figaro go to climb down the ladder, they find it missing. Basilio turns up with the notary, and, ceding to bribery and threats, agrees to witness the marriage between the Count and Rosina. The arrival of Bartolo forces a confrontation and then a resolution.