Gioachino Rossini

The Barber of Seville

Dec 16 - Jan 2 Buy Tickets from $25

High spirits return for the holidays in the Met’s family-friendly, English-language, two-hour adaptation of one of opera’s most winning comedies. Bartlett Sher’s effervescent production of Rossini’s tuneful masterpiece stars the charming mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard, revisiting her portrayal of Rosina, the girl who behaves perfectly—until anyone gets in her way. Antony Walker conducts.

The performances on December 26 & 30 will be "open houses," with audience members invited to meet cast and crew.

Read Full Synopsis
  • Sung In
  • English
  • Met Titles In
  • English
  • German
  • Spanish
  • Estimated Run Time
  • 2 hrs 0 mins
  • House Opens
  • Act I 56 mins
  • Intermission 28 mins
  • Act II 37 mins
  • Opera Ends
Dec 16 - Jan 2 Buy Tickets from $25

Cast

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Performing

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World premiere: Teatro Argentina, Rome, 1816. Met Premiere: November 23, 1883. Rossini’s perfectly honed treasure survived a famously disastrous opening night (caused by factions and local politics more than any reaction to the work itself) to become what may be the world’s most popular comic opera. Several of its most recognizable melodies have entered the general musical unconscious, most notably the introductory patter song of the swaggering Figaro, the barber of the title. The opera offers superb opportunities for all the vocalists, exciting ensemble composition, and a natural flair for breezy comedy that has scarcely been equaled since.

Creators

Gioachino Rossini (1792–1868) was the world’s foremost opera composer in his day. Within just two decades he created more than 30 works, both comic and tragic, before retiring from opera composition at the age of 37. Cesare Sterbini (1784–1831) was an official of the Vatican treasury and a poet. His career as a librettist was short and among his theatrical works only Barbiere is remembered today.

Production Bartlett Sher

Set Designer Michael Yeargan

Costume Designer Catherine Zuber

Lighting Designer Christopher Akerlind

Translation J. D. McClatchy

Composer

Gioachino Rossini

Setting

Seville is something of a mythical neverland for dramatists and opera composers. The intricate, winding streets of the city’s old quarters and the large gypsy and Moorish-descended population and their exotic traditions have added to its allure, and the Don Juan legend has its origins here. Beaumarchais’s play Le Barbier de Séville, the basis for the opera, was revolutionary: set “in the present day,” which meant just before the French Revolution, the work unveiled the hypocrisies of powerful people and the sneaky methods that workers devise to deal with them.

Music

The paradox of Rossini’s music is that the comedy can soar only with disciplined mastery of vocal technique. The singers must be capable of long vocal lines of attention-holding beauty as well as the rapid runs of coloratura singing. The score features solos of astounding speed in comic, tongue-twisting patter forms, especially the title role’s well-known Act I showstopper, “You need a barber in Seville?” (“Largo al factotum”). Beyond the brilliant solos, the singers must blend well with one another in the complex ensembles that occur throughout the opera.

Met History

For the 1954 production of Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Russian artist Eugene Berman created a highly stylized vision of Seville. For the characters of Don Basilio and Dr. Bartolo, he invented not only appropriate costumes, but also a pair of chairs that echoed the ascetic appearance of Cesare Siepi as the music master and Fernando Corena as the extravagant doctor.