Major Operas | Il barbiere di Siviglia by Giovanni Paisiello | Classical Era

The Barber of Seville

Composed: 1782
Premiered: 1782, St Petersburg
Libretto by Giuseppe Petrosellini, after Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais

Act I

Count Almaviva stands below the window of Rosina, ward of Dr Bartolo, serenading her. Figaro, a self-important barber, arrives. Rosina appears at the window and drops a note for the Count, asking him to introduce himself in song. Figaro tells the Count to gain entry to the house by disguising himself as a drunken soldier. Learning that Rosina will be forced to marry Bartolo the following day, the Count presents himself to her as ‘Lindoro’. He offers Figaro money in exchange for his help.

Act II

Figaro tells Rosina of Lindoro’s love. She gives him a letter for Lindoro. Bartolo tries to obtain information from his servants, Lo Svegliato and Giovinetto, but Figaro has drugged them. Bartolo’s friend Don Basilio enters with news that Count Almaviva is pursuing Rosina and suggests that they slander him. Figaro warns Rosina of Bartolo’s intentions. Bartolo and Basilio find Rosina’s letter and forbid her to leave the house. The Count, disguised as a soldier, arrives demanding lodgings, but Bartolo refuses. In the confusion, the Count passes a note to Rosina; Bartolo sees this and demands to read it but Rosina hands him another paper.


The disguised Count arrives, claiming to be a music teacher sent by Don Basilio, and gives Rosina her music lesson. Figaro enters and the lovers plan their escape; Don Basilio arrives, but leaves with a hefty bribe. Figaro decides to distract Bartolo, but the doctor then recognizes the fake music teacher as Rosina’s lover.

Act IV

Bartolo tells Rosina that her lover is merely an agent for Count Almaviva. Distraught, she agrees to marry Bartolo; he sends Basilio to fetch a notary. Figaro and the Count arrive, ready to flee through the window with Rosina. She refuses until the Count reveals his true identity. Bartolo steals their ladder, trapping them. Basilio enters with the notary and, after some bribery, Rosina and the Count are married. Bartolo arrives too late and is forced to accept the situation.

Personalities | Giovanni Paisiello | Classical Era | Opera


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