‘The Barber of Seville’ onstage at Süreyya
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News“The Barber of Seville,” an opera buffa in two acts by Gioachino Rossini, will be onstage today and tomorrow at Kadıköy Süreyya Opera Stage.
The libretto was based on Pierre Beaumarchais’ comedy “Le Barbier de Séville” (1775), which was originally an opéra comique, or a mixture of spoken play with music. The premiere of “The Barber of Seville” under the title “Almaviva, or the Futile Precaution” took place Feb. 20, 1816, at Teatro Argentina, Rome. It was one of the earliest Italian operas to be performed in the U.S. and premiered at the Park Theater in New York City on Nov. 29, 1825. Rossini’s “Barber” has proven to be one of the greatest masterpieces of comedy within music and has been described as the opera buffa of all opere buffe; even after 200 years, its popularity on the modern opera stage attests to that greatness.
But the first performance of “The Barber of Seville” in 1816 was a disastrous failure: The audience hissed and jeered throughout, and several on-stage accidents occurred. However, many of the audience were supporters of Rossini’s rival, Giovanni Paisiello, who played on “mob mentality” to provoke the rest of the audience to dislike the opera. Paisiello had already created a composition based on Beaumarchais’ play and took Rossini’s new version to be an affront to his version. In particular, Paisiello and his followers were opposed to the use of basso buffo, which is common in comic opera.
The second performance met with quite a different fate, becoming a roaring success. It is curious to note that the original French play “Le Barbier de Séville” endured a similar story, hated at first only to become a favorite within a week.