Il barbiere di Siviglia

The music

Discover the music of Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia

Photo: Bill Cooper

Il barbiere di Siviglia is one of opera’s greatest romantic comedies (the best ever, according to Verdi) – a perfect blend of memorable melodies, colourful characters and exciting vocal writing. What sets it apart is the dramatic clarity of the music, so vivid and evocative, that even if there were no words you’d still understand what was going on.

Before Rossini, musical style in opera had very little to do with character in 18th-century Italian opera. The great innovation of Il barbiere di Siviglia and Rossini’s other comic operas is the way each character’s personality is reflected in the music they sing: lightning-fast patter for Figaro, feisty showpieces for Rosina, and blustering expostulation for Bartolo.

The overture to Il barbiere di Siviglia is some of the best-known and most popular music in the opera – a natural curtain-raiser for the comic hijinks and romantic intrigue that follows. But it wasn’t originally written for the opera at all, and by the time it was used to open Il barbiere di Siviglia in 1816 it had already served as overture to two of Rossini’s earlier operas.

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