“The Barber is one of the century's masterpieces”. These words were written by the very Berlioz who in his youth had denounced not only Rossini, but also the “fanaticism he aroused in the fashionable circles of Paris”. Accordingly, the compliment, “repeated until exhaustion” – the composer's own words – is all the greater. The work was so “brilliant” and “so finely orchestrated” that the “dilettanti of Rome”, enraged by the “slightest unforeseen innovation in melody, harmony, rhythm or instrumentation were ready to kill the young maestro”. Il Barbiere di Siviglia has been performed continually since its turbulent premiere on February 16th 1816.
The composer's opera buffa transcends the spirit of Beaumarchais’ comedy and combines the absurd with a touch of satirical realism in a score where rhythm and virtuosity place the comic effects in an ongoing dramatic narration. As a result, the characters – Rosina in particular – gain a new degree of realism and break with the usual archetypes.
Damiano Michieletto’s giddying production embraces this perpetual motion and carries in its wake the happy couple formed by Lawrence Brownlee and Pretty Yende.