Figaro here, Figaro there, Figaro up, Figaro down – he’s the Barber of Seville and he’s the ‘go to’ man for everything, from a short back and sides to marriage guidance counselling. In this instance, Count Almaviva has fallen head-over-heels for Rosina, who appears enticingly at her window but is never seen beyond the confines of her house. To her fury and frustration, she’s been locked up by her jealous guardian, Dr Bartolo. Aided and abetted by Figaro, Almaviva serenades Rosina from the street, then manages to gain access by disguising himself first as a soldier in search of a billet, and then as a substitute music teacher.
Rossini’s joyously inventive music makes this a deftly-paced triumph of comic timing. But woe betide anyone taking too many liberties: Adelina Patti, the great 19th century diva, once sang the aria ‘Una voce poco fa’ to Rossini, adding numerous florid embellishments. The composer responded: ‘Very nice, my dear, and who wrote the piece you have just performed?’
Sung in Italian with English supertitles
For performances of Il barbiere di Siviglia, we encourage audience members to dress in Mediterranean colours – terracotta, yellow ochre, azure blue etc.