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First performed in Rome in 1816, Gioacchino Rossini’s The Barber of Seville is for many opera lovers, the first great example of an Italian opera written by an Italian, rather than a German or an Austrian composer, making it a landmark composition that helped to usher in an era of Italian opera that flourished well into the early 20th century.
Delightfully comic and teeming with social commentary, the libretto is based on Pierre Beaumarchais’s French comedy Le Barbier de Séville, the first of the three Figaro plays. It tells the story of a vulnerable young woman who plots successfully to marry a glamorous young man rather than the odious guardian who covets her for himself.
The opera’s music has been said to “delight” rather than “challenge” listeners, as evidenced by the popular-music status attained by some of its melodies in the last century.
Ironically, the appeal of Rossini’s Barber has now far transcended that of its literary model and remains a prototype of 19th-century opera, in that it ends with the happy marriage of a couple who struggle to be together against all odds.
Tickets to the Minnesota Opera’s production of The Barber of Seville are not included in tuition. However, registered participants will receive information for a 20 percent discount on tickets to the performance of their choice.
Daniel Freeman, PhD, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has taught courses in music history at the University of Minnesota and the Smithsonian Institution. Considered the world’s leading historian in the field of 18th-century Czech music, Freeman also is a musicologist and pianist.
Offered in cooperation with the Minnesota Opera.