Rossini Il barbiere di Siviglia
Tuesday 18 April 2023 - 20 h (Gala)
Thursday 20 April 2023 - 20 h
Saturday 22 April 2023 - 20 h
Melodramma buffo in two acts
Music by Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868)
Libretto by Cesare Sterbini, based on the comedy The Barber of Seville, or The Useless Precaution by Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais
Premiere: Rome, Teatro Argentina, 20 February 1816
Production of the Salzburg Festival
On 20 February 1816, just as Carnival week was approaching its climax, Gioachino Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia had its (eventful) premiere at the Teatro Argentina in Rome. The new opera was a highly appropriate match for the unfettered atmosphere of the Roman carnival: delighting in masks and disguise, parody and the grotesque, it is permeated through and through with the spirit of carnival. In Rossini’s work everything is energized, sharpened or exaggerated, charged with dramatic vibrancy. And thus the comedy in Rossini’s work is closer to commedia dell’arte than the French play on which it is based.
The meta-theatrical dimension that characterizes Il barbiere di Siviglia is being further expanded in Rolando Villazón’s production –thus opening up new potential for comedy and moments of poetry. An additional protagonist is being introduced, played by the great (and fastest in the world) quick-change performer Arturo Brachetti, a daydreamer who seeks distraction in old movies, especially those starring a particular diva with whom he has become enamoured.
Les musiciens du Prince – Monaco
Gianluca Capuano has been principal conductor of Les Musiciens du Prince-Monaco since 2019. He studied the organ, composition and conducting at the Conservatory in his hometown of Milan and went on to specialize in early music at the city’s Scuola Civica. He also studied theoretical philosophy at the University of Milan. He has appeared as a soloist and as a conductor throughout Europe, the United States, Russia and Japan. In 2006 he founded Il Canto di Orfeo, an instrumental and vocal ensemble with which he performs a wide-ranging Baroque repertoire, working with some of the finest musicians and singers active in the field of historically-informed performance practice. Gianluca Capuano came to international attention in August 2016, when he stepped in at short notice to conduct Norma with Cecilia Bartoli on the opening night of the Edinburgh Festival. Bartoli then invited him to conduct further performances of Norma at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées and in Baden-Baden as well as a European tour of La Cenerentola with Les Musiciens du Prince-Monaco. He has also conducted Ariodante and Il turco in Italia in Monte Carlo, Orfeo ed Euridice for the Rome Opera, Il matrimonio segreto for the Dutch National Opera, Guillaume Tell at the Chorégies d’Orange, Il barbiere di Siviglia at the Teatro Massimo in Palermo, L’elisir d’amore at the Teatro Real in Madrid, La Cenerentola and Iphigénie en Tauride in Zurich. Gianluca Capuano made his Salzburg debut at the 2017 Whitsun Festival, conducting Les Musiciens du Prince-Monaco in Ariodante and a concert performance of La donna del lago, following this up in 2018 with a recital of arias associated with the legendary tenor Manuel García and sung by Javier Camarena. Highlights from this programme were released on CD. His second CD for Decca, an album devoted to the legendary Pauline Viardot showcasing mezzosoprano Varduhi Abrahamyan and Les Musiciens du Prince-Monaco was released april, 2021. Plans include: L’italiana in Algeri at the Zurich Opernhaus; Il turco in Italia and Die Zauberflöte in Munich; L’eisir d’amore in Hamburg; Il barbiere di Siviglia and a gala concert at the Salzburg Festival; La Cenerentola in Martigny, Zurich and Vienna; Il turco in Italia, L’elisir d’amore, Don Pasquale, Il barbiere di Siviglia and a gala concert in Vienna; Alceste in Rome.
Through his uniquely compelling performances on the world’s most important stages, Rolando Villazón has firmly established himself as one of the leading artists of our day. His versatility is peerless as he maintains successful careers as a stage director, novelist, artistic director and radio and TV personality next to his on-stage career. Born in Mexico City, Rolando Villazón quickly made a name for himself on the international music scene after winning several prizes at Plácido Domingo’s “Operalia” competition in 1999. This was followed in the same year by his European debut as Des Grieux (Manon) in Genoa and debuts as Alfredo (La traviata) at the Paris Opera and as Macduff (Macbeth) at the Staatsoper Berlin. Since then, he has been a regular guest at the State Operas of Berlin, Munich and Vienna, La Scala in Milan, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden (London), the Metropolitan Opera New York and the Salzburg Festival. The 2022-23 season brings Rolando Villazón to some of the world’s most important stages, in repertoire ranging from baroque to contemporary music. He makes his role debut as Loge in Das Rheingold in a new production of the tetralogy directed by Dmitry Tcherniakov and conducted by Christian Thielemann. Later in the season, he portrays one of his signature roles, Monteverdi’s Orfeo, in new productions in Dresden and Santa Fe. In 2007 he became an exclusive artist for Deutsche Grammophon. He has sold over 2 million albums worldwide and recorded over 20 CDs and DVDs which have received numerous prizes.
Brigitte Reiffenstuel was born in Munich and studied at the London College of Fashion and Central St Martins College of Art and Design. She works internationally in theatre and opera. Her most recent costume designs include Tom Stoppard’s new play Leopoldstadt in London’s West End, soon to transfer to Broadway, Don Carlos at the Metropolitan Opera in New York and La sonnambula at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris. Her work in theatre has included Oklahoma! for Chichester Festival Theatre, Light in the Piazza at London’s Royal Festival Hall, Twelfth Night at the Young Vic and Kiss Me, Kate in Graz, Luxembourg and at Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris. In 2014 she designed the costumes for Kate Bush’s acclaimed Before the Dawn concerts in London. In opera, she has designed costumes for the Met, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and the English National Opera in London, La Scala in Milan, the Paris Opera, the Glyndebourne Festival, and for opera houses in Chicago, San Francisco, Washington, Madrid, Berlin, Munich, Barcelona, Monte Carlo, Zurich, Tel Aviv, Sydney, Tokyo and South Korea, among many others. Many of her productions have gone on to tour internationally including Falstaff (ROH, Canadian Opera Company, La Scala, Met, Amsterdam), Peter Grimes (ENO, Oviedo, Vlaamse Opera, Berlin), Faust (ROH, Lille, Monte Carlo, Trieste, Valencia, Australia), Giulio Cesare (Glyndebourne, Met, Chicago, Lille) and Adriana Lecouvreur (Met, Paris Opera, Vienna, Barcelona, ROH, La Scala).
Harald B. Thor
Harald B. Thor studied set and costume design at the Mozarteum in his home town of Salzburg, completing his studies there in 1982. In 1984, after an initial engagement at the Coburg Landestheater, he joined the Bavarian State Opera in Munich and two years later became its head of design. In 1999, after working with August Everding on the world premiere of Rolf Hochhuth’s Effis Nacht, he was appointed head of design and lecturer in stage design at Everding’s Bavarian Theatre Academy. In addition to his many set designs for Munich’s Prinzregententheater, he has also created the designs for theatres in Berlin, Mannheim, Vienna, Basel, Zurich, Moscow and Seoul. Harald B. Thor has worked as a freelance designer since 2001. In the spoken theatre most of his set and costume designs have been for productions directed by Andreas Kriegenburg. Much of Harald B. Thor’s work is focused on music theatre, in which capacity he has designed the sets for productions by many distinguished directors in Munich, Berlin, Hamburg, Dresden, Frankfurt, Paris, Seoul and Tokyo as well as the Salzburg Whitsun Festival, where he made his debut with Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District in 2017. For the Bavarian State Opera he has designed the sets for Die Soldaten, which won the prestigious Faust Theatre Award in 2014, for Wozzeck (2008, a coproduction with the New National Theatre in Tokyo), for the Ring (2012) and, most recently, for the English-language premiere of Hans Abrahamsen’s The Snow Queen in 2019.
Stefan Bolliger was born in 1968 in Zurich, Switzerland. For several years he worked as a freelance lighting technician before joining the Thalia Theater in Hamburg in 1995. From 1997 to 2006 he was employed there as deputy head of the lighting department. From 2006 to 2010 he was head of the lighting department and lighting designer at the dramatic theatre of the Staatstheater Stuttgart. Since then he has worked as a freelance lighting designer. He has created lighting designs at the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich, the Theater an der Wien in Vienna, the Salzburg Festival, the Deutsche Oper in Berlin, the Hamburgische Staatsoper in Hamburg, the Semperoper in Dresden, the Theater Basel, the Vlaamse Opera in Antwerp, the New National Theatre in Tokyo, the Norske Opera in Oslo, the State Opera in Berlin, the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf, the Aalto Musiktheater in Essen, the Latvian National Opera in Riga, the Opera in Wuppertal, the Opera in Graz as well as at the Teatro Nacional and the Gran Teatro in Havana. In 2014 he held a workshop for scenic and lighting design at the ISA (Instituto Superior de Arte, University of Havana), and in 2016 a workshop for lighting design in cooperation with ISA in Havana, followed in 2017 and 2018 by workshops for lighting design and technique as well as for stage and projection techniques at Gran Teatro in Havana and in Camagüey (Cuba). In 2019 he was appointed lighting design lecturer at the University Mozarteum in Salzburg (Austria).
The Austrian film makers Carmen Zimmermann and Roland Horvath created their production company Rocafilm in 2010 to produce videos for operas and plays as well as documentary films. They first worked with Damiano Michieletto on his production of La bohème at the 2012 Salzburg Festival, following this with Idomeneo at the Theater an der Wien (Vienna), Falstaff and La Cenerentola at the 2013 and 2014 Salzburg Festivals (with a revival of Falstaff at La Scala, Milan), Die Zauberflöte and the world premiere of Filippo Perocco’s Aquagranda (2017 Premio Abbiati, special prize) at the Teatro La Fenice in Venice, Rigoletto at the Dutch National Opera, La Damnation de Faust at the Rome Opera (2018 Premio Abbiati for best production), Don Pasquale at the Paris Opera, Der ferne Klang at the Frankfurt Opera and La Cenerentola at the Dresden Semperoper. Other directors with whom Rocafilm has worked at the Salzburg Festival include Moche Leiser and Patrice Caurier (Giulio Cesare, 2012), Luc Bondy (Marc-André Dalbavie’s Charlotte Salomon, 2014) and Robert Carsen (Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno, 2021). At the Salzburg Easter Festival the team also worked with Philipp Stölzl on Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci in 2015, and in 2017 they helped to reconstruct Günther Schneider-Siemssen’s legendary designs for Die Walküre from 1967. Since 2018 Carmen Zimmermann and Roland Horvath have worked regularly with Claus Guth: the world premiere of Michael Jarrell’s Bérénice in Paris, followed by Handel’s Orlando at the Theater an der Wien (Vienna), the world premiere of Chaya Czernowin’s Heart Chamber at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin, Salome at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre and Jenůfa at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.
Edgardo Rocha was born in Rivera, Uruguay. He studied piano, choral and orchestra conducting and singing in Montevideo and then in Italy. He made his debut in 2010 at the Martina Franca Festival in the title role of Donizetti’s Gianni di Parigi. He has established an impressive reputation in the Rossini repertoire: La Cenerentola in Vienna, Stuttgart, Seville, Lausanne, Monte Carlo, Munich, and in films, Il barbiere di Siviglia in Vienna, Valencia, Madrid, Naples, Lausanne, Munich, Dresden, Zurich, Paris-Bastille, Tel Aviv, Hamburg, Verona, Rome, Lugano, L’italiana in Algeri in Vienna and Barcelona, La scala di seta, Otello (Jago), Il viaggio a Reims (Belfiore), Le Comte Ory and Il turco in Italia in Zurich, La gazzetta in Liège, Il turco in Italia in Turin, Otello (Rodrigo) at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysée (Paris), Otello (Iago), La gazza ladra and Il turco in Italia at La Scala in Milan, Otello (Rodrigo), La donna del lago, L’italiana in Algeri and Il barbiere di Siviglia at the Salzburg Festival, Il viaggio a Reims (Libenskof) in Dresden. He also performed in Don Pasquale in Florence and Verona, Così fan tutte in Naples and Turin, Les Pêcheurs de perles in Nancy, I puritani in Stuttgart, La Juive (Léopold) in Munich, Der Rosenkavalier in Dresden, Anna Bolena (version for Rubini) in Lausanne and Geneva, Maria Stuarda in Geneva, La sonnambula in Nice and Düsseldorf, the satellite broadcast of Andrea Andermann’s film Una favola in diretta at the RAI, followed by a European tour alongside Cecilia Bartoli. He is also very active as a concert performer and has made many recordings.
Born in Turin, Alessandro Corbelli studied singing with Giuseppe Valdengo and then with Claude Thiolas. Since his debut at the early age of 22, he has become an outstanding exponent of the bel canto and Mozart roles for baritone. He has sung in all the major opera houses: La Scala since 1989 in Così fan tutte, Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, La Cenerentola, Le Comte Ory, Lodoiska, Fedora; Covent Garden in L’italiana in Algeri, La Cenerentola, Così fan tutte, Don Pasquale, Il turco in Italia, La Fille du régiment, Il barbiere di Siviglia, Adriana Lecouvreur; Paris Opera in La Cenerentola, L’italiana in Algeri, Così fan tutte, Madama Butterfly, Gianni Schicchi and La Fille du régiment; Vienna Staatsoper in Così fan tutte, Le nozze di Figaro, I puritani and La Cenerentola. Since his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 1997, as Dandini in La Cenerentola, he has returned regularly for L’italiana in Algeri, L’elisir d’amore, Gianni Schicchi and La Cenerentola (Don Magnifico). He has also sung in Munich, Cologne, Geneva, Madrid, Barcelona, Toulouse, Rome, Naples, Bologna, Florence, and Turin, as well as at such important festivals as Edinburgh, Glyndebourne, Aix-en-Provence, Salzburg and the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro. Recent engagements include Bartolo (Il barbiere di Siviglia) at the 2022 Salzburg Festival, as well a new critical edition of Donizetti’s L’ajo nell’imbarazzo at the Donizetti Festival in Bergamo and the title role in Don Pasquale in Barcelona.
With an ongoing and magnificent performing career of more than 30 years, mezzosoprano Cecilia Bartoli has established herself as one of the world’s leading classical music artists. Her work on stage is empowered by a fiery passion for the uncovering of rare music and a profound interest into historically informed performance. Her large-scale projects encompassing various art forms brought her worldwide recognition and prestigious management positions in Salzburg and Monte Carlo. Today, Cecilia may proudly claim to have written music history, and to have become a role model for future generations. All of Cecilia’s projects are characterised by the basic features of her personality: musicality, intellect and theatricality, combined with great warmth, charisma and feeling. Born in Rome and educated by her mother, singing teacher Silvana Bazzoni, Cecilia was discovered by Daniel Barenboim, Herbert von Karajan and Nikolaus Harnoncourt, each of whom should leave his imprint on her quickly emerging worldwide career. Over the years, she was to perform with leading orchestras and conductors at all major opera houses, concert venues and festivals throughout North America, Europe, the Far East and Australia. Innovative projects dedicated to neglected music, which combine extensive concert tours, best-selling recordings, spectacular stage productions, inventive films and multimedia events have become a trademark of Cecilia’s work. Since 2012, she has served as artistic director of the Salzburg Whitsun Festival, and in 2023 she assumes the position of director of the Opéra de Monte-Carlo, as the first woman in the history of this opera house. Also in Monte-Carlo, her period instrument orchestra, Les Musiciens du Prince – Monaco, was founded in 2016 with the patronage of HSH Prince Albert II and HRH Caroline the Princess of Hanover. Together, Cecilia and this ensemble perform at their homebase in Monte Carlo and throughout Europe. Cecilia sings a repertoire built on Rossini, Mozart, Handel, and their times. However, her meticulous research into the vocality and roles performed by famous singers such as Farinelli, Maria Malibran or Giuditta Pasta encouraged her to venture into areas which had so far not been considered for mezzo-sopranos. Milestones in her career include the first-ever production of Rossini’s Cenerentola at the MET in New York in 1997, the legendary Vivaldi-Album, sold millions of times since 1999, the Paris concert marathon on the day of Maria Malibran’s 200th birthday in 2008, her iconoclastic approach to Bellini’s Norma in 2013 as part of a comprehensive project which included the score’s scientific reconstruction based on the composer’s manuscripts, a deliriously received week of Rossini operas at the Vienna State Opera in 2022. The Cecilia Bartoli – Music Foundation was founded as part of Cecilia’s philantropic work and aims at bringing classical music to a wider audience and at collaborating with talented young musicians. Among others, it created a new record label, mentored by Bartoli, in collaboration with Decca. Talented musicians such as Javier Camarena or Varduhi Abrahamyan were enabled to record their first studio albums thanks to this venture. Honorary Doctorates, five Grammys, more than a dozen Echos and Brit Awards, the Polar Music Prize, the Léonie-Sonning-Music Prize, the Herbert von Karajan Prize and many other recognitions underline Cecilia Bartoli’s significant role in the world of culture and music. As a consequence, Cecilia was appointed President of Europa Nostra – the European Voice of Civil Society Committed to Cultural and Natural Heritage. She took up this position for an initial mandate of five years in 2022.
Winner of the 2016 Abbiati Prize, Nicola Alaimo is one of the most appreciated performers on the international music scene, applauded at prestigious theatres and festivals all over the world: Metropolitan Opera in New York, La Scala in Milan, Teatro Regio in Turin, Arena di Verona, San Carlo in Naples, Salzburg Festival, La Monnaie in Brussels, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Paris Opera, Rome Opera, Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London, Teatro Real in Madrid, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Opernhaus Zurich and at the Rossini Opera Festival, becoming one of its leading performers. Very successful was his performance in Guillaume Tell (title role), which he performed in the theatres of Paris, Monte Carlo, Amsterdam, Chorégies d’Orange, Munich and Brussels. Mr. Alaimo collaborated and collaborates with maestros such as Maurizio Benini, Bruno Campanella, Gianluigi Gelmetti, Daniele Gatti, James Levine, Michele Mariotti, Zubin Mehta, Riccardo Muti, Evelino Pidò, Jean-Christophe Spinosi. Recently engaged in a fortunate Cenerentola, Turco in Italia and a Rossini Gala tour alongside Cecilia Bartoli directed by Gianluca Capuano and as Falstaff for the opening night at the Teatro La Fenice in Venice, he sung Il trovatore at Monte Carlo Opera. Mr. Alaimo plans include: Falstaff in Tokyo; La forza del destino in Paris; L’italiana in Algeri, La Cenerentola in Zurich; Nabucco, Roberto Devereux in Geneva; Simon Boccanegra in Florence; L’esule di Roma at the Barbican Theatre in London; I due Foscari in Chicago; La Cenerentola and Adriana Lecouvreur in Toulouse; Guillaume Tell in Liège.
Ildar Abdrazakov has firmly established himself as one of opera’s most sought-after basses and one of his generation’s most celebrated and recognized artists. Since making his debut at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan in 2001 at the age of 25, the Russian bass has become a mainstay at leading houses worldwide, including the New York Metropolitan Opera, Paris National Opera, the Vienna State Opera and the Bavarian State Opera in Munich. His powerful yet refined voice, coupled with his compelling stage presence, have prompted critics to hail him as a “sensational bass … who has just about everything – imposing sound, beautiful legato, oodles of finesse” (The Independent). Being also an active concert artist, he has performed at London’s BBC Proms and at New York’s Carnegie Hall, as well as with leading international orchestras, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Vienna Philharmonic. In the 2022-23 season, Ildar Abdrazakov returns to the Bayerische Staatsoper as Filippo II (Don Carlo) and Boris Godunov, a signature role he also performs at the prestigious season opening at the Teatro alla Scala (and which he portrayed at Monte Carlo Opera). He also appears as Méphistophélès (La Damnation de Faust) at Teatro di San Carlo in Naples. On the concert stage, the famous bass gives a solo recital at the Hungarian State Opera. Abdrazakov was born in Ufa, the present day capital of the Republic of Bashkiria in Russia.
Rebeca Olvera studied at the Conservatorio Nacional de Música in Mexico City. Since winning the audience prize at the International Hans-Gabor Belvedere Competition in Vienna, she has been a member of the ensemble of Zurich Opera. She has performed at the Komische Oper Berlin, Wiener Konzerthaus, Konzerthaus Dortmund, Severance Hall with the Cleveland Orchestra, Salzburger Festspiele, Monte Carlo Opera, Edinburgh Festival, Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris, Festspielhaus in Baden-Baden, Tonhalle in Zurich, Det Kongelige Teater in Copenhagen, Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich and National Concert Hall in Dublin. She has given concert performances with José Carreras in Mexico, Argentina, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Austria, Cyprus, Russia, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Germany. Operatic roles include Adina (L’elisir d’amore), Norina (Don Pasquale), Berenice (L’occasione fa il ladro), Giulia (La scala di seta), Rosina in Paisiello’s Il barbiere di Siviglia, Blonde (Die Entführung aus dem Serail), Madame Herz (Der Schauspieldirektor), Despina (Così fan tutte), Dorinda in Händel’s Orlando, Mi (Das Land des Lächelns), Contessa di Folleville (Il viaggio a Reims), Isolier (Le Comte Ory) and Adalgisa (Norma). Engagements in 2021-22 included Despina and Isolier for Zurich Opera, Elvira (L’italiana in Algeri) at the Salzburg Festival and Clorinda (La Cenerentola) for the Monte Carlo Opera on tour to Martigny and the Wiener Staatsoper. Highlights of Rebeca’s 2022-23 season include Stimme des Waldvogels (Siegfried) and Clorinda for Zurich Opera, Adina for Staatsoper Stuttgart.
José Coca Loza
José Coca Loza made his debut at the Wiener Staatsoper in June 2022 as Alidoro in La Cenerentola under the baton of Gianluca Capuano. Recent highlights include singing with ensemble La Ritirata Scarlatti´s Il giardino di rose in Cuenca, the bass part in Der Messias at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris, and the Grand Théâtre in Geneva in Robert Wilson’s production under the baton of Mark Minkowski; a Gala solo concert in Vicenza at the Teatro Olimpico under the baton of Andrea Marcon with the Venice Baroque Orchestra; a Gala concert with Ensemble Matheus and Jean-Christophe Spinosi; his performance of Caronte in L´Orfeo with L’Arpeggiata under Christina Pluhar and Rolando Villazón; his Royal Opera House, Covent Garden debut as Lesbos alongside Joyce DiDonato in the season opening production of Agrippina; the role of Astolfo in Orlando furioso at Tchaikovsky Hall in Moscow; Der Messias at the Mozart Woche in Salzburg; Fidelio on tour as Rocco with Gustavo Dudamel, and Haly in L’italiana in Algeri with Ensemble Matheus (Jean-Christophe Spinosi) at Salzburg Festival and at the Opéra royal in Versailles; Alidoro in La Cenerentola on tour with Cecilia Bartoli at Lucerne Festival, at Palau de la Música in Barcelona and at the Auditorio Nacional de Música in Madrid; the role of Clistene in L’Olimpiade with Andrea Marcon conducting La Cetra Barockorchester at Amsterdam Concertgebouw; Mustafa in L’italiana in Algeri under the baton of Giancarlo Andretta with Orquesta Ciudad di Granada; Truffaldino in Ariadne auf Naxos at the Festival de Música de Canarias in Tenerife and Las Palmas. After completing his studies at the Music Conservatory of Basel, Jose joined the Opera Studio at Theatre Basel where he sang such roles as Melisso in Alcina, Alter Diener in Elektra, and Marchese d’Obigny in La traviata. He has been a pupil of Silvana Bazzoni since 2014.
Famous all over the world, the Italian quick-change artist Arturo Brachetti is regarded as the undisputed master of transformation, enjoying the status of a living legend in many countries. Intimately familiar with the international theatre and entertainment scene, for some years now he has also been appearing as a ‘show-teller’, that is, a narrator who presents works of theatre and music in an engaging and accessible way. In addition, he is also passionate about directing and works as artistic director for events venues, with interests ranging from comedy to musicals, magic and cabaret. Born in 1957 in Turin, Italy’s ‘city of magic’, Brachetti began his career at the age of 20 in Paris, where he took the forgotten art of the Italian quick-change artist Leopoldo Fregoli to new heights, becoming one of the star attractions at the Paradis Latin. From then on his career rapidly took off, making him famous far beyond the borders of Italy and France. Today, more than 40 years after his Paris debut, Brachetti is the greatest quick-change artist in the world, embodying up to a hundred of his repertoire of over 450 figures in a single evening. It is not just a case of changing costume – he also assumes a different ‘soul’, fully inhabiting this alternative persona. Alongside his quick-change illusionism he also brings the entire and ever-expanding spectrum of his artistic experience to the stage, which includes sand painting, pantomime, Chinese shadow play and laser shows.
LES MAÎTRES D’ŒUVRE
Mise en scène
Harald B. Thor
Chef de chœur
Assistante à la mise en scène
Assistant à la direction musical & chef de chant
Andrea del Bianco
Assistant aux décors
Assistant d'Arturo Brachetti pour les changements
Mark Johnson Panganiban
Le Comte Almaviva
José Coca Loza
Guillaume Gallo Manrique
Morena di Vico
Ludivine Colle Denane
CHŒUR DE L’OPÉRA DE MONTE-CARLO
Chef de chœur
Consultant pour l’organisation musicale & assistant chef de chœur
Régisseuse du chœur & bibliothécaire
Laura Maria ROMO CONTRERAS
Maria-Elisabetta DE GIORGI
Vincenzo DI NOCERA*
Nicolo LA FARCIOLA*
Adolfo SCOTTO DI LUZIO*
Daniele DEL BUE*
* chorus members participating in the performances of Il Barbiere di Siviglia
LES MUSICIENS DU PRINCE – MONACO
Thibault Noally (leader)
Anna Urpina Rius
Nicolas Mazzoleni (leader)
Diego Moreno Castelli
Patricia Gagnon (leader)
Marco Frezzato (leader)
Antonio Carlo Papetti
Roberto Fernández De Larrinoa (leader)
Jean-Marc Goujon (leader)
Pier Luigi Fabretti
Francesco Spendolini (leader)
Hugo Rodriguez Arteaga (leader)
Ulrich Hübner (leader)
Thibaud Robinne (leader)
Andrea del Bianco
Miguel Rincon Rodriguez
PERSONNEL DE SCENE
Directeur de scène
Régisseur de scène
Responsable du bureau d’études
Techniciens de plateau
Chef électricien adjoint
Gaël Le Maux
Chef costumière-habilleuse adjointe
Sous-chef costumière-habilleuse adjointe
Chef perruquière-maquilleuse adjointe
Nana Janny Telussa
Responsable adjointe billetterie
Some words about Rossini…
I got to sing Rossini very early, although his operas did not become part of my permanent repertoire. He remains for me, however, one of the greatest composers ever. Like Mozart, he was a master both of tragedy and comedy, like Mozart his music lives because of his sparkling brilliance, and his timing. And timing is crucial for good comedy.
How do you go about staging such a well-known work as the Barber?
The big question is always how to translate a piece into a visual language to which we immediately relate today without betraying the essence of the piece: you actually steal something from Rossini while at the same time staying true to Rossini… More than anything else, the staging must be musical! Visually, this production refracts Rossini’s time into our own through the world of black-and-white movies from the early 20th century, which were nostalgic and melancholic on the one hand, and rumbustious like Chaplin and Keaton films on the other. Moreover, thanks to an invented figure who at first observes the characters of the opera, and eventually starts to interact with them, we create a new sub-plot with a second level of comedy.
What do you take into consideration when staging an opera, and particularly with artists so knowledgeable in Rossini’s repertoire?
First of all, I must be far better prepared than anyone else because for me it is new! With such incredibly intelligent, creative and talented colleagues, I simply set out the archetypes of the figures, whereas the singers “steal” them from me to make them their own. In the end, I just need to regulate and say, “yes, this works in our context” or “no, that makes no sense here”. Gianluca Capuano requires a special mention, however! He is a smart and creative collaborator, always present and with valuable input. He will keep the Barber fresh and alive throughout its run, while my job as the producer ends at the dress rehearsal..
From your point as a musician who is also an administrator, do you have any tips for Cecilia Bartoli?
(Surprised) I cannot imagine why I should give Cecilia tips…! On the contrary, it is her who has always been a source of inspiration for me. With her talent and rational, as well as emotional intelligence, which is supported by a wonderful instinct, she managed to create a tailor-made career for herself which is absolutely unique. I learn so much from her and am grateful to be a small part of her universe.
A square in Seville, at sunrise
A band of musicians, led by Fiorello, are tuning their instruments (no. 1: Introduzione “Piano, pianissimo”). Among them is Count Almaviva, poorly dressed. He is in love with Rosina, the ward of the elderly doctor Bartolo, and wants to court her, but he wishes to be loved for himself and not for his title, which is why he has disguised himself as a poor student. He serenades his beloved beneath her balcony (Cavatina “Ecco, ridente in cielo”). While waiting for Rosina to appear he chases the musicians away as they are too noisy for his liking. He is then interrupted by Figaro, one of his former servants (no. 2: Cavatina “Largo al factotum”). As luck would have it Figaro is now in the service of Bartolo as barber and factotum. He could be of valuable assistance as Rosina is guarded jealously by her tutor who intends to marry her himself. At that moment Rosina appears on her balcony, watched very closely by Bartolo. Nevertheless she manages to throw a message to her suitor asking him for his name and his intentions. The Count’s hopes are quickly dashed when he overhears a conversation between Bartolo and Basilio, Rosina’s music teacher, indicating that Bartolo plans to marry his ward the very next day. He takes up his guitar and begins singing again under her balcony, informing her that his name is Lindoro (no. 3: “Se il mio nome saper voi bramate”). He now has to find a way to approach Rosina. Figaro offers to help him in exchange for payment. He advises the Count to disguise himself as a soldier and to gain entrance to Bartolo’s house where he claims to have been sent is to be quartered (no. 4: Duetto “All’idea di quel metallo”).
A room in Bartolo’s house
Rosina sings of her love for Lindoro and her determination to win his heart despite the anger this will provoke on the part of her tutor (no. 5: Cavatina “Una voce poco fa”). Figaro manages to get into Rosina’s room, but has to hide when Bartolo enters. Bartolo has been chasing him all over the house. Rosina replies brazenly to her tutor’s suspicious questions and then exits the room, leaving behind a very angry Bartolo. Basilio tells Bartolo that he should spread slanderous rumours about the Count (no. 6: Aria “La calunnia è un venticello”). From his hiding place Figaro hears the two friends making plans for the wedding the following day; when they leave the room Rosina returns and the barber (claiming to be Lindoro’s cousin) tells her that Lindoro is in love with her and urges her to reply to his declaration of love (no. 7: Duetto “Dunque io son… tu non m’inganni?”). Bartolo, who is becoming increasingly suspicious, orders Rosina to explain Figaro’s presence in her room. She answers in the same insolent way, but he is not totally convinced by her reply. He admonishes her and warns her that he will be watching her even more closely (no. 8: Aria “A un dottor della mia sorte”).
There is a knock at the door and the servant Berta goes to open it. It is the Count disguised as a soldier and pretending to be drunk. He hands his billeting order to Bartolo, but Bartolo replies that he has been exempted from billeting requisitions. The discussion becomes heated and an officer arrives to restore order. The Count is arrested, but he discreetly reveals his true identity to the officer. To everyone’s stupefaction the Count is released and calmly walks away, just as a storm breaks (no. 9: Finale I “Fredda ed immobile, come una statua”).
A room in Bartolo’s house, with a piano
Almaviva reappears at Bartolo’s house wearing a different disguise. Bartolo is suspicious; he is sure he recognizes the visitor’s face (no. 10: Duettino “Pace e gioia sia con voi”). The Count claims he is Don Alonso, one of Basilio’s students. Basilio is unwell and has sent him as a substitute. Bartolo refuses to allow him entry, so the Count contrives a plan to show him the love letter Rosina sent to him, claiming that it was given to him by one of the Count’s other mistresses out of jealousy. The singing lesson takes place (no. 11: Aria “Contro un cor che accende amor”) and while Bartolo dozes off the young lovers can at last declare their love. Bartolo wakes up and, inspired by the song that Rosina is practising, launches into a nonsensical declaration of love for her (no. 12: Arietta “Quando mi sei vicina”).
Figaro arrives to shave Bartolo, who unsuccessfully tries to chase him away. Bartolo then insists on being shaved in the music room so that he can keep an eye on Rosina. In order to be left alone with the so-called music teacher so that he can air his grievances about his barber, Bartolo hands his keys to Figaro and sends him off to fetch his shaving material from a cupboard. He is convinced that Figaro is arranging secret rendezvous on the Count’s behalf. Figaro seizes the opportunity to remove the key to the balcony from the set of keys Bartolo has given him. Basilio enters, but being completely unaware of the situation he almost gives the game away. Fortunately the fake Alonso manages to get rid of him. While Figaro is at last shaving his master, the lovers arrange to elope that night, but Bartolo overhears their conversation (no. 13: Quintetto “Don Basilio! – Cosa veggo!”). He flies into a rage and sends his servant, Ambrosio, away to fetch Basilio. Berta, who is exasperated by these crazy goings-on in the house, hopes that Rosina will marry the Count so that she can become Bartolo’s wife (no. 14: Aria “Il vecchiotto cerca moglie”).
Basilio confirms that he does not know Alonso. Realizing that he has been duped, Bartolo sends his friend away to fetch the notary as quickly as possible. Showing Rosina the letter that the so-called music teacher had given to him, Bartolo fools her into believing that Lindoro is in league with the Count. Rosina is plunged into despair. Outside a storm breaks (no. 15: Temporale). The Count and Figaro place a ladder under Rosina’s balcony and climb into her room; they are drenched. Rosina accuses her lover of having betrayed her, but he then reveals to her that Lindoro and Almaviva are the same person. The lovers embrace, but Figaro urges them to leave in haste (no. 16: Terzetto “Ah! qual colpo inaspettato”). Alas, the ladder has disappeared. When Basilio and the notary arrive, Figaro and the Count take advantage of Bartolo’s absence (he has gone off to seek the help of the army) to force the notary to marry the couple by threatening him with a gun.
When Bartolo returns the Count reveals his true identity, which leaves Bartolo dumbfounded (no. 17: Recitativo strumentato “Il Conte!… ah, che mai sento!”). The Count is overcome with joy (no. 18: Aria “Cessa di più resistere”) [Editor’s Note: in the present production, this aria is sung by Rosina]. Bartolo confesses that it was he who had removed the ladder from the balcony to make sure that Rosina could not run away before he married her. “A useless precaution”, says Figaro mockingly. Bartolo has no choice but to bless his ward’s marriage to the Count, at the same time rejoicing that the young bridegroom has renounced his wife’s dowry. Everyone celebrates the power of love to do good (no. 9: Finaletto II “Di sì felice innesto”).
Thoughts on Rossini’s style and on the interpretation of his works
Gioachino Rossini’s opera Almaviva o sia L’inutile precauzione - generally known as Il barbiere di Siviglia - first saw the light of day in 1816, yet anyone listening to it today will instantly forget just how long ago this was. Il barbiere is now Rossini’ most frequently performed work, but its longevity cannot be attributed only to its famous crescendos, its memorable tunes and its lively action. So what is it that makes this opera so exceptional that it is still so frequently performed? Like history in general, the history of music may be compared to a river that for the most part flows underground, only rarely coming to the surface. There are only a few works that litter its course - we refer to them as ‘masterpieces’ - and these have retained a place for themselves in the eyes and ears of posterity. The other side of this coin is that the majority of the works that were written at the same time have fallen into oblivion. […]
I have no idea how many of the 700 or so performances of Il barbiere that are given every year are indebted to the principles of historically informed performance practice, although I fear that the total would be disappointingly low. A great deal has been achieved over the last 50 years in terms of the radical reappraisal of our approach to the works of the past and of the tireless efforts to research and revive the conditions of their original performance, enabling us to remove the thick layers of dust from these works, whether they date from the Baroque or from a later period. Works by Gluck, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and even Brahms and Wagner have benefited from this approach. But very little has been done in this regard in terms of the works of Rossini and of bel canto in general. I am thinking, for example, of the performances of Norma that were staged in Salzburg with Cecilia Bartoli, the revivals of which I have conducted since 2016/17. This production marked a milestone in the performance history of bel canto operas. For me, 2022 was a Rossini year with Il turco in ltalia in Monte Carlo, L’italiana in Algeri in Zurich, Il barbiere di Siviglia in Salzburg. Soon after, it was the turn of La Cenerentola and Il turco in ltalia in Vienna. When performed in scholarly editions and with a historically informed awareness, these all offer me valuable opportunities to immerse myself in greater depth in Rossini’s style.
The first step that I take when approaching any work may be described as establishing what I call an interpretative ‘zero level’, by which I mean learning to ignore all the habits that have accrued to its performing tradition and returning to the res ipsa. In turn this means studying the manuscript scores in detail. (Fortunately, the autograph score of Rossini’s Barbiere has survived and is lodged in Bologna.) One has to remember that we musicians are never able to approach a score completely free from bias since the infamous ‘tradition’ that besets these works is an unavoidable, hermeneutic part of our perception of any piece from the past. My aim is not to discard tradition altogether but to filter it through a critical knowledge of the score and to retain only those elements that survive this test. We are fortunate to have at your disposal musical instruments from Rossini’s own time, which means that my second step is to understand which aspects of the score that has come down to us are directly related to the material conditions that existed at the time of the work’s first performance. Certain elements of Rossini’s compositional style become clear only when we take account of the specific properties of the instruments that were available to him. These elements have been routinely and regularly falsified by the subsequent ‘tradition’. Here I am thinking not only of the dynamic markings in the score (the orchestra must at every moment allow the singers to display the full range of their vocal col ours and should never present a wall of sound that is impossible to surmount) or even of the orchestral retouchings that every age has inflicted on the work with a greater or a lesser degree of fanciful interference. No, I am thinking above all of the articulation and phrasing. It is enough to glance at the orchestral parts that are used in repertory theatres today to see the extent to which this music continues to suffer from interpolations, distortions and over-interpretations. If we lose the essential interplay between the text or its linguistic articulation on the one hand and the musical articulation of the vocal line and the orchestra on the other, then we also lose the constituent core of this music.
A further source of inspiration is the original contract that Rossini signed for Il barbiere. Here he agreed - among other things - to do as the impresario asked and make any changes to the score that the singers desired, to lead the first three performances from the harpsichord and to attend all of the rehearsals. This first point is crucial, since it helps us to rid ourselves of the idea that the notes enshrined in a score are somehow sacrosanct and inviolable. This is an idea that continues to be seen as self-evident by many interpreters engaged in performing the works from this period. There is not a single and unique Il barbiere: within weeks of its first performance numerous variants are documented in the form of substitute arias, transpositions and cuts. New singers arrived, and Rossini adapted his score to suit them. In our […] production, for example, we have made use of the knowledge that the Count’s great three-part aria ‘Cessa di più resistere’ also exists in a version for Rosina. We are additionally presenting a personal reading of the second serenade that the Count sings beneath Rosina’s balcony: Manuel Garcia, who sang this role at the first performance, improvised this piece on his guitar, triggering a sarcastic reaction on the part of the first Rosina, Geltrude Righetti-Giorgi, and causing an angry response from the first-night audience in Rome.
The basic task of every interpretation that is based on a critical reading of the sources is arguably that of presenting the music as a living organism. The tendency to set a work of music in stone, effectively reducing it to the status of a museum exhibit, is the result of a late Romantic aesthetic: according to this view, the composer is no longer the skilled craftsman who constantly changes and adapts his creations but a ‘genius’ who creates immortal and inalienable works of art. This attitude leads us in turn to condemn transpositions, interpolations, cuts, cadenzas and variants. The second of the contractual points mentioned above reminds us of the practice of improvisation that was customary at that time. (What would I not give to hear Mozart or Rossini performing their own works!) This is an aspect that has been entirely lost from sight in a performing tradition fixated on a pure ‘reproduction’ of the original work. Suffice it to note that the recitatives in Il barbiere are not in Rossini’s hand; that according to the surviving sources the harpsichordist normally joined in numbers that were accompanied by the orchestra; and that the figured bass is a hymn to musical freedom. We have used all these facts to entrust the harpsichordist with a special role at these performances: audiences will notice this from the very first bars of the opera.
Translation from the italian: Stewart Spencer
Program for Il barbiere di Siviglia, ©Salzburg Festival 2022