Barbiere di Siviglia is a piece that many directors immerse in deluges of stock gestures and purposeless foolishness. Too often, productions of Il barbiere di Siviglia and the singers who populate them seem awkward because they attempt to make the opera funny. The eventual popularity of its third companion, with the comedic tone of which it fits handily despite sharing no thematic material with the balance of the score, ensured that Barbiere was its final destination.
Throughout the performance, Revzen adopted tempi that kept the show moving without bullying the singers. Perhaps the greatest challenge of Barbiere for conductors and directors is the disproportionate duration of Act One, but Revzen and Holley ensured that members of the Greensboro audience were not glancing at their watches and wondering how many more bars would whizz past before the interval. Accompanied by Revzen, the secco recitatives churned with the excitement of feisty Spaniards consumed by amorous intrigue. The Temporale in Act Two, enacted by Holley with a welcome avoidance of nonsensical stage business, had the effect of a discharge of the dramatic electricity that crackled through the preceding scene.
Like their colleagues behind the scenes, orchestra, chorus, and conductor gave of their best in service to Rossini. Ideally, a Berta should sound as though she might be a capable Rosina: Foley Davis would undoubtedly be considerably more than capable and was a magnificent Berta. Following the trend started by Berta, it is apparent in many productions of Barbiere that Don Basilio has devoted many years to his parochial pursuits, with the vocal attrition to prove it.
Every conservatory should offer mandatory courses designed to foster comprehension amongst prospective singers that comedy and stupidity are vastly different concepts. Generally with Rossini the same composition can as well express a profound emotion as its contrary. In these conditions, how can the composer attain truth as well, if not better than in more realistic works? He demands, in fact, the active cooperation of the interpreter and even of the audience.
More than its words or content, it is the affetto that is the general emotional ambience that characterizes the Rossini aria. This conception goes back to Baroque tradition and arises from the aesthetic of the marvellous, of astonishment and of surprise.
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The vocal writing of Rossini relies on the virtuosity of the singer, which must be exceptional, all directed to this affetto. This is why Rossini allows freedom to the interpreter to modify the musical text in repeated passages. In introducing cadenzas and variations, he allows the singer to bring out the power of expression required by the dramatic situation and gives him the possibility of using his voice to the best advantage of his tessitura and capacity.
Introduzione . The scene is a gallery in the palace of Argirio, leader of the senate. With him is Isaura and her attendants, with Argirio's knights. Two attendants enter carrying a silver bowl with white scarves. Other knights arrive and each group exchanges red or blue scarves for white. The knights now celebrate the end of factional discord under their respective leaders Argirio and Orbazzano Pace, onore, fede amore - Peace, honour, faith, love , both groups now united. Argirio declares that Syracuse will be safe now the two factions are reconciled Se amista verace, e pura - If you keep in your heart true friendship.
Recitativo . Argirio appoints Orbazzano as leader against the Moors Ed ecco, o prodi Cavalier, l'eroe - And here, brave knights, is the hero who will lead you in my place. Orbazzano, however, warns them against treachery from within, in particular from the exiled Tancredi, to the dismay of Isaura. Argirio summons his daughter Amenaide. Coro e Cavatina . Amenaide enters with her attendants, as those present sing of the triumph of harmony and love Pill dolci e placide spirano l'aure - Sweeter and calmer breathe the winds on so fair a day.
She joins their pleasure Come dolce all'alma mia - How sweet is the sound of your voices to my soul , while privately expressing anxiety about the absence of her beloved Tancredi, whom she has secretly invited to return to her E tu quando fornerai al fuo ben, mio dolce amor - And you, when will you return to your beloved, my sweet love. Recitativo . Argirio tells Amenaide that he has promised her hand in marriage to Orbazzano E gia deciso, o figlia - It is already decided, daughter.
Orbazzano tells her of his love for her and of her father's promise of her hand in marriage Amenaide, d'immenso amore io t'amo - Amenaide, my love for you is great. He demands immediate marriage, but she begs for delay until the next day. As the company leaves, Isaura, alone, laments the predicament of Amenaide, who is already pledged to Tancredi Amenaide sventurata! Recitativo e cavatina . The scene changes to the pleasant garden of the palace.
The garden adjoins the shore and the sea and a ship approaches, from which first Roggiero and then Tancredi and his followers disembark. He has not received Amenaide's message, but is resolved to defend his native city against the enemy and to see again his beloved Amenaide.
He greets his native land Oh pafria! His thoughts turn to Amenaide Tu che accendi questo core - You who set aflame this heart , begging her forgiveness for the pain he has caused her Di tanti palpiti, di tante pene - After such beating of the heart, such torment ; now he will at last see her again. Recitativo . He sends the loyal knight Roggiero with a message to Amenaide D'Amenaide ecco il soggiorno - Here is the house of Amenaide, go faithful Roggiero , and tells his knights to spread the word that an unknown warrior has arrived to offer his services to the city, while he himself anxiously awaits Roggiero's return.
Argirio and Amenaide enter the garden, while Tancredi withdraws, but remains within hearing. Argirio tells his knights to bid his friends attend the wedding of his daughter at midday Andate, al gran tempi' invitate gli amici - Go, invite our friends to the great temple , demanding her obedience.
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As the knights leave, Amenaide asks for a delay in her marriage, but Argirio tells her that Syracuse is in danger: the enemy leader, Solamir, who has asked her hand in marriage, has surrounded the city and there is danger from within with the rumoured return of Tancredi, seeking revenge: the senate has condemned any such traitor to death, meanwhile she must marry Orbazzano, who will lead the Syracusans against the Moors.
Recitativo e Aria . Argirio tells Amenaide that the senate has condemned every traitor to death Della patria ogni nemico danna a morte il Senato — The senate has condemned to death every enemy of the country  and she must remember that she is his daughter Pensa, pensa che sei mia figlia - Think, think that you are my daughter. Recitativo . Argirio goes out, and Amenaide regrets her action in summoning Tancredi, to his imminent danger Che feci!
Thoughtless woman! Tancredi now reveals himself, to her dismay.
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Recitativo e Duetto . Amenaide tells Tancredi that he must make his escape, Oh qual scegliesti terribil ora! They both lament the situation in which they find themselves, with the necessity of parting. Coro . The following scene is set in a public square, near the city walls and leading to a magnificent Gothic cathedral. In the square there are ancient monuments, and here the people gather to see the wedding.
The nobles summon love and pleasure Amori scendete , scendete a piaceri - Arise love, arise joy! Recitativo . Argirio addresses the assembly, assuring them that this marriage will reconcile the feuding factions of Syracuse Amici, Cavalieri, al Tempio! Tancredi, in disguise, offers himself to Argirio, promising loyalty and honour Fede e onore - Loyalty and honour is my device , as he looks at Amenaide, who he thinks has betrayed him by accepting marriage to Orbazzano.
Amenaide now refuses to obey her father, even if disobedience cost her life. Tancredi is overjoyed at what he hears but Orbazzano, who now enters, is angry at what he has overheard and at evidence of Amenaide's disloyalty. Recitativo istrumentale e Finale . Orbazzano shows the letter Amenaide had written to Tancredi, which has fallen into his hands, imagining that this is a letter to Solamir, her supposed secret lover, bidding him enter and capture the city Il suo infernal delitto - Her damnable treachery, written in her own hand : her treachery must be rewarded with death.
Argirio reads the letter and he and Tancredi express their dismay. Finale primo . Amenaide is distressed at the false accusation Ciel! Unhappy that I am! Those present greet the revelation with horror Qual orrore! Amenaide turns to her father Padre amato - Beloved father , who disowns her, and then to Tancredi Ma!
Orbazzano can now have his revenge.
Of all present only Isaura remains faithful. Amenaide is dragged off to prison, as all lament the turn events have taken Quale infausta arrenda giarna! Recitativo . The first scene of the second act is set in a gallery in the castle of Argirio. There is a writing-table and a richly decorated chair.
Orbazzano is angry at Amenaide's contempt for him and her apparent treachery Vedesti? The unworthy woman! Isaura reminds Argirio that Amenaide is his own daughter E tua figlia! Recitativo .
Argirio is in distress at events Oh Dio! You remind me of that name both dear and fatal. Aria .
Argirio yields reluctantly to Orbazzano's demands and condemns Amenaide to death Ah! Recitativo . Argirio and the others go out, leaving Isaura and Orbazzano. She reproaches him for his cruelty Trionfa, esulta, barbaro! Aria . As Orbazzano leaves, Isaura invokes divine aid for Amenaide Tu che i miseri conforti - Thou who comfortest the wretched, beloved hope, give her patience in her suffering.
Related Duetto: All idea di quel metallo, No. 6b from Il Barbiere di Siviglia - Full Score
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