"Last night I saw Rossini's Barber for the third time in as many weeks. My taste must be totally depraved because I find this Figaro of Rossini a hundred times more preferable to Mozart's."
- G.W. Friedrich Hegel
Is Gioachino Rossini's most popular opera really a guilty pleasure? To the audience for whom the opera was brand new in 1816, perhaps there was a feeling that an opera this "infectious" (to use Boston Lyric Opera music director David Angus's description) couldn't be a true masterpiece, like Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro. On the other hand, does it matter when it's just so much fun?
Boston Lyric Opera brings The Barber of Seville back to Boston, March 9 - March 18, at The Citi Performing Arts Center Shubert Theatre. When the opera premiered in 1816 in Rome, it was a fiasco. According to the BLO, "Stories abound (amusing but as usual in these cases somewhat suspect). A string broke as Almaviva tuned his guitar on stage; Basilio tripped as he made his entrance and he sang his aria while attempting to cope with a bleeding nose; a cat appeared meowing plaintively which was echoed by the derisive audience."
So maybe it wasn't a hit from the very beginning, but it certainly was after all those problems were straightened out for the second night, and it has remained one of the most popular operas in the repertoire ever since.
Classical New England's Brian McCreath visited a BLO rehearsal to talk with David Angus to learn more:
To hear in a new window, click on "Listen" above the slideshow.
Learn more about Rossini.
For more information about The Barber of Seville, visit Boston Lyric Opera.
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BARBER OF SEVILLE ON DRIVE TIME LIVE