OperaPLUS 2014 will be focus on Rossini’s Barber of Seville in a brand new production, with a Jackdaws twist.
…was born in Pesaro on the Adriatic coast of Italy. He is Italy’s greatest loved composer of opera buffa (comic opera). Born on 29 February 1792, a leap year. He died 76 years later on 13 November 1868 (aged 18!)
Rossini’s operas earned him fame and money during his lifetime, which was, and is, unusual for a composer. A keen chef, his culinary legacy also lives on in the form of several pasta dishes and a strawberry cocktail made with champagne.
He was known for the speed with which he composed and once boasted that he could set a shopping list to music. Unusually for a composer, he retired from composition in 1829 having written 39 operas, although did write several smaller scale pieces after this. His opera buffa, La Cenerentola (1817), based on the story of Cinderella, was Jackdaws’ focus for OperaPLUS 2012 and was received with great acclaim. The 2014 programme focuses on Rossini’s most famous work, The Barber of Seville, written in 1815 (aged 23).
The Barber of Seville
The two-act libretto by Cesare Sterbini is based on Pierre Beaumarchais’ renowned comedic stage play “Le Barbier de Séville“, the first in his ‘Figaro trilogy’. Mozart famously set the second play in his Le nozze di Figaro.
With a comical libretto, the piece is an Opera buffa and indeed is often considered the best example of the Buffa style – it is certainly the most well known opera from the genre, and contains the famous Patter song ‘Largo al Factotum‘.
Rossini Key Terms
Bel Canto – literally “beautiful voice”, a style of Italian singing characterised by its grace, virtuosity and agility
Libretto – like the text of a play, these are the words the composer sets to music
Opera buffa – literally “comic opera”, with a humorous libretto as well as visual gags
Overture – an instrumental introduction heard at the start of each Act, which often includes melodies which will be heard
Rossini Crescendo – a passage of music which gets louder over a repeated pattern. Rossini’s frequent employment of this device earned him the nickname ‘Signor Crescendo’
The Barber story follows Rosina, a young heiress, who is being pursued by her guardian, Dr. Bartolo, who wants to keep her fortune by marrying her himself. But Rosina has fallen in love with Count Almaviva and together with Figaro the Barber, they outsmart Dr. Bartolo so Rosina and the Count can marry.
Jackdaws OperaPLUS production, the Stylist of Somerset, takes a slightly different angle. Set in the style of popular television Talent shows, Rosina is a hopeful young contestant auditioning for Bartolo, a judge. She is in love with the already famous superstar Almaviva, who loves her back. Almaviva and Rosina ask their stylist, Figaro, to help them outsmart the evil Bartolo.
Jackdaws’ OperaPLUS production of the Stylist of Somerset will be performed twice:
Robert Blake Science College, Bridgwater on May 8 at 12:30pm
Cheese & Grain, Frome on May 9 at 5:30pm