Just for you! Barber of Seville or How I wish Figaro was my Hairdresser!
I love Barber of Seville and had a sudden urge to share my passion with you about that colorful character and genius from Pesaro, Italy, Giacomo Rossini!
And so, while you are listening, do not be offended that here and there I say he instead of she, and such! The words were just pouring in and they were misbehaving, freeing themselves from the shackles of grammar! Well, nothing new in my case! 😍
Everyone loves Barber of Seville by Giacomo Rossini! And if you have not seen that opera yet, you may now as SD Opera is having it on!
Not sure if opera is for you?
Just listen to the hip enticing and so much fun tenor aria Largo Al Factotum that I prepared for you below!
This piece will win you over! Figaro, the barber who just arrived in Seville to rid everyone of their problems (!!) —just because he can solve them all — is a handsome fun engaging albeit mischievous young man. It is his tongue -in -a cheek attitude, humor and charisma that makes you want to have your hair done by this dynamic handsome guy! And what is the opera about? Figaro is helping a dashing young count Almaviva date beautiful Rosina who lives with dr. Bartolo, her strict guardian. Will Almaviva win Rosina? Watch the opera to find out, you will not regret!
Rossini (1792-1868) was a young guy when he premiered his Barber and he loved to write operas, but also loved to make as much money as he could. And he tried it all! Like turning in an opera without an overture and then wanting extra money for the overture, and then using the same overture for three different operas! Or, renting several tables in the foyer of the opera and subletting them to card players and collecting percentage from their wins! Ha ha! How clever, just like characters in his operas. And yes, he became very rich, but was more than generous with his estate!
Barber of Seville, aka Il Barbiere di Seviglia premiered in Teatro Argentina in Rome 205 years ago; the premiere was on February 20, 1816, and— it was a disaster!! Why?
Because Giovanni Paisiello, a respected and loved (admired also by Mozart) composer premiered in 1782 the same themed opera Barber of Seville! And when Rossini debuts his Barber, Pasiello is still around, 75 years old, his Barber very popular and he has a huge following. When "his'' crowd finds out that this young "nobody" is to produce "the same" opera, Paisiello followers buy most of the tickets to the premiere, bring rotten eggs and tomatoes, but especially burlap bags with wild cats....Once the opera is in full swing the "riot" starts! Prima donnas are screeching as the wild cats are roaming on the stage and hissing.
What can I tell you! It was a disaster, but Rossini came to the theater conduct the opera a day after and day after that as if nothing happened. And? Who remembers today Paisiello and who Rossini? But, to defend Paisiello, it is actually a decent opera! But the fun spirit of Rossini, his sharp tongue and a disguised critique of the aristocracy is unique and his music attractive.
The opera is based upon a trilogy of excellent French plays: Barber of Seville (1775 premiere), Marriage of Figaro (1781) and Mother Guilty (1792). Sounds familiar? All of the plays by Pierre Augustus Caron de Beaumarchais (1732-1799) were turned into successful operas and by multiple composers! We have Mozart and his "Marriage of Figaro" 1786,
Paisiello's Barber in 1782, Rossini's "Barber" in 1816, and the last of the trilogy was set to opera under the name La mère coupable by Darius Milhaud in 1966 and also by two Americans under the name of "Rossina" by Hiran Titus(1980) and "The Ghost of Versailles" by John Corrigliano (1991).
All of the operas deal with the same characters! Figaro is a barber in Seville and befriends count Almaviva in the Barber of Seville. In the Marriage of Figaro, Figaro is a servant at the estate of Almaviva and is getting married. And Mother Guilty is about Almaviva looking for Rossina who took of with Cherubino, her servant, with whom she has a child...
And the most fascinating and astonishing fact is this: Pierre Augustus Caron de Beaumarchais loved America and its ideals. He decided to convince France to help in American Revolution, as he has such connections. And he succeeded: the French government will help, and Beaumarchais personally fundraises and collects money, puts in almost all of his saving ( he was quite rich), and he buys provision, attires, pocket knives, blankets, weapons, ammunition and sends it all to America. Many historians believe such help, coming right prior the battles of Saratoga (September and October 1777), the decisive two 18 days apart battles in the Revolution, were won because of the material Beaumarchais arranged to be sent. Did America paid him back the assessed expense? Yes, but long after he died in 1799. You can see in CIA Archives his letter to Hamilton, record that Jefferson, Madison and others talk about the issue, but not much was done. Finally, in 1835, 36 years after Beaumarchais died, his wife ad son are paid 800,000 dollars. Take it or leave, was the answer that it is not the full amount,
Life writes unimaginable stories! From Mozart and Rossini to American Revolution.
And there is SO MUCH to Beaumarchais, as he absolutely fascinates me, but the rest about him must be a blog on its own!🌺
If interested, here are some books you may enjoy:
Caron de Beaumarchais, Pierre-Augustin. The Figaro Trilogy: The Barber of Seville, The Marriage of Figaro, The Guilty Mother. Translated by David Coward. Oxford World's Classics, 2003.
Cox, Cynthia. The Real Figaro, The Extraordinary Career of Caron de Beaumarchais. Coward-McCann Inc., 1962.
Morton, Brian M. and Donald C Spinelli. Beaumarchais and the American Revolution. Lexington Books, 2003.
Improbable Patriot: The Secret History of Monsieur de Beaumarchais, the French Playwright Who Saved the American Revolution by Unger, Harlow Giles, 2011
And now to the music! And yes, my video with the narration I made JUST FOR YOU is on the top!! 🌻🎶🌻
Enjoy this first aria sung amazingly well by Pete Mattei (Metropolitan Opera) and then, enjoy watching the transcription of the same aria by a German composer Diederich Krug (1821-1880). It is so entertaining! One piano and SIX hands!
The rest of the samples are fun to watch, you can make a comparison of several interpretation of the aria Una voce poco fa, when Rosina is falling in love with count Almaviva aka Lindoro, and there is one more Figaro from Royal Opera.
Thank you for visiting my blog and see you in the opera!