Il barbiere di Siviglia

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Synopsis

Place: Seville, Spain

Time: 18th century

 

Act 1

The square in front of Bartolo's house

In a public square outside Bartolo's house a band of musicians and a poor student named Lindoro are serenading, to no avail, the window of Rosina ("Ecco, ridente in cielo"; "There, laughing in the sky"). Lindoro, who is really the young Count Almaviva in disguise, hopes to make the beautiful Rosina love him for himself – not his money. Almaviva pays off the musicians who then depart, leaving him to brood alone. Rosina is the young ward of the grumpy, elderly Bartolo and she is allowed very little freedom because Bartolo plans to marry her once she is of age and thus appropriate her considerable dowry.

Figaro approaches singing (Aria: "Largo al factotum della città"; "Make way for the factotum of the city"). Since Figaro used to be a servant of the Count, the Count asks him for assistance in helping him meet Rosina, offering him money should he be successful in arranging this (duet: "All'idea di quel metallo"; "At the idea of that metal"). Figaro advises the Count to disguise himself as a drunken soldier, ordered to be billeted with Bartolo, so as to gain entrance to the house. For this suggestion, Figaro is richly rewarded.

A room in Bartolo's house with four doors

The scene begins with Rosina's cavatina, "Una voce poco fa" ("A voice a little while ago"). (This aria was originally written in the key of E major, but it is sometimes transposed a semitone up into F major for coloratura sopranos to perform, giving them the chance to sing extra, almost traditional, cadenzas, sometimes reaching high Ds or even Fs.)

Knowing the Count only as Lindoro, Rosina writes to him because she is interested in getting to know him better. As she is leaving the room, Bartolo enters with the music teacher Basilio. Bartolo is suspicious of the Count, and Basilio advises that he be put out of the way by creating false rumours about him (this aria, "La calunnia è un venticello" – "Calumny is a little breeze" – is almost always sung a tone lower than the original D major).

When the two have gone, Rosina and Figaro enter. Figaro asks Rosina to write a few encouraging words to Lindoro, which she has actually already written. (Duet: "Dunque io son...tu non m'inganni?"; "Then I'm the one...you're not fooling me?"). Although surprised by Bartolo, Rosina manages to fool him, but he remains suspicious. (Aria: "A un dottor della mia sorte"; "To a doctor of my class").

Count Almaviva, disguised as a soldier and pretending to be drunk, enters the house and demands to be quartered there. In fear of the drunken man, Berta the housekeeper rushes to Bartolo for protection. Bartolo tells the "soldier" that he (Bartolo) has an official exemption which excuses him from the requirement to quarter soldiers in his home. Almaviva pretends to be too drunk and belligerent to understand, and dares Bartolo to brawl. While Bartolo searches his cluttered desk for the official document which would prove his exemption, Almaviva whispers to Rosina that he is Lindoro in disguise, and passes a love-letter to her. Bartolo suspiciously demands to know what is in the piece of paper in Rosina's hands, but she fools him by handing over her laundry list. Bartolo and the Count argue loudly. Basilio enters; then Figaro, who warns that the noise of the argument is rousing the whole neighborhood. Finally, the noise attracts the attention of the Officer of the Watch and his troops, who crowd into the room. Bartolo demands that the Officer arrest the "drunken soldier". The Officer starts to do so, but Almaviva quietly reveals his true identity to the Officer, and he (the Officer) backs off. Bartolo and Basilio are astonished and mystified; Figaro laughs quietly at them. (Finale: "Fredda ed immobile, come una statua"; "Cold and still, just like a statue"). The confusion intensifies and causes everyone to suffer headaches and auditory hallucinations ("Mi par d'esser con la testa in un'orrida fucina; dell'incudini sonore l'importuno strepitar"; "My head seems to be in a fiery forge: the sound of the anvils deafens the ear").

 

Act 2

A room in Bartolo's house with a piano

Count Almaviva again appears at the doctor's house, this time disguised as Don Alonso, a priest and singing tutor who is substituting for the supposedly ailing Basilio. To gain Bartolo's trust, Don Alonso tells him he has intercepted a note from Lindoro to Rosina, and says that Lindoro is a servant of Count Almaviva who has dishonorable intentions towards Rosina. While Almaviva pretends to give Rosina her singing lesson ("Contro un cor"; "Against a heart"), Figaro arrives to shave Bartolo. Not wanting to leave Rosina alone with the singing teacher, Bartolo insists Figaro shave him right there in the music room. Basilio suddenly appears for his scheduled music lesson, but he is bribed by a full purse from Almaviva and persuaded to leave again, with much discussion of how ill he looks. (Quintet: "Don Basilio! – Cosa veggo!"; "Don Basilio! – What do I see?"). Bartolo overhears the lovers conspiring, and angrily drives everybody away. Berta vents about the crazy household ("Il vecchiotto cerca moglie").

A room in Bartolo's house with a grille looking out onto the square.

Bartolo orders Basilio to have the notary ready to marry him to Rosina that evening. Basilio leaves and Rosina arrives. Bartolo shows Rosina the letter she wrote to "Lindoro" and persuades her that this is proof that Lindoro is merely a flunky of Almaviva and is toying with her at Almaviva's behest. Rosina believes the story and agrees to marry Bartolo.

During an instrumental interlude, the music creates a thunder storm to indicate the passage of time. Almaviva and Figaro climb up a ladder to the balcony and enter Rosina's room through a window. Rosina accuses Almaviva, whom she believes to be Lindoro, of betraying her. Almaviva reveals his identity and the two reconcile. While Almaviva and Rosina are enraptured by one another, Figaro keeps urging them to leave. Two people are heard approaching the front door. They are Basilio and the notary. The Count, Rosina, and Figaro attempt to leave by way of the ladder, but discover it has been removed. Using bribes and threats, Almaviva coerces the notary into marrying him to Rosina, with Basilio and Figaro as the legally required witnesses. Bartolo barges in, accompanied by the Officer and the men of the watch, but too late; the marriage is already complete. The befuddled Bartolo is pacified by being allowed to retain Rosina's dowry. The opera concludes with an anthem to love ("Amor e fede eterna, si vegga in noi regnar!"; "May love and faith eternally be seen to reign in us").

Program and cast

Approximate running time: 2 hours 30 minutes, 1 intermission (20 minutes) minutes

Language: In Italian, surtitles in Czech, English

 

Conductor - Jan Chalupecký

Count Almaviva - Martin Šrejma

Bartolo - Miloš Horák

Rosina - Michaela Zajmi

Figaro - Pavol Kubáň

Basilio - Roman Vocel

Berta - Lucie Hájková

Fiorello - Lukáš Bařák

Ambrogio - Anton Eliaš

 

Creative team

Stage director - Magdalena Švecová

Sets - David Janošek

Costumes - Kateřina Štefková

Motion cooperation - Martin Pacek

Light design - Pavla Beranová

Chorus master - Pavel Vaněk

Dramaturgy - Beno Blachut

Photo gallery
Zdeněk Sokol
© Zdeněk Sokol
Zdeněk Sokol
© Zdeněk Sokol
Zdeněk Sokol
© Zdeněk Sokol
Zdeněk Sokol
© Zdeněk Sokol

Prague National Theatre

The National Theatre today

 

The historical building of the National Theatre, constructed in 1883, is generally considered the prime stage in the CzechRepublic. It is the flagship of the National Theatre institution, today amounting to five buildings and encompassing four companies. You can see there Opera, Drama and Ballet performances.

 

Idea of building a stately theatre for the Czech nation

 

The National Theatre is the embodiment of the will of the Czech nation for a national identity and independence. Collections of money among the broad mass of the people facilitated its construction and hence the ceremonial laying of its foundation stone on 16 May 1868 was tantamount a nationwide political manifestation.

 

The idea of building a stately edifice to serve as a theatre was first mooted in the autumn of 1844 at meetings of patriots in Prague. It began to materialise through a request for “the privilege of constructing, furnishing, maintaining and managing” an independent Czech theatre, which was submitted to the Provincial Committee of the Czech Assembly by František Palacký on 29 January 1845. The privilege was granted in April 1845. Yet it was not until six years later – in April 1851 – that the Society for the Establishment of a Czech National Theatre in Prague (founded in the meantime) made its first public appeal to start collections. A year later the proceeds of the first collections allowed for the purchase of land belonging to a former salt works with the area of less than 28 acres, which predetermined the magnificent location of the theatre on the bank of the river Vltava facing the panorama of Prague Castle, yet at the same time the cramped area and trapezoidal shape posed challenging problems for the building’s designers.
 

By car

To the centre (OldTown), approach on Masarykovo nábřeží (Masaryk embankment) in the direction from the Dancing House, at the crossroads in front of the National Theatre turn right to Divadelní street and then right again to Ostrovní street to the National Theatre car park. Parking costs 50 CZK/h.

 

By tram

By daytime trams Nos. 6, 9, 18 and 22 and night trams Nos. 53, 57, 58, 59 to the stop “Národní divadlo” – in front of the NT historical building; by daytime tram No. 17 to the stop “Národní divadlo”.

 

By metro

To the station “Můstek”, line B (yellow), and then by foot on Národní street; or to the station “Karlovo náměstí” and then two stops by tram No. 6, 18 or 22 to the stop “Národní divadlo”. To the station “Staroměstská”, line A (green), and then two stops by tram No. 17 to the stop “Národní divadlo”. 

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