MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Rossini’s Comic Genius in Barber

MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Marie-Noëlle Robert/Théâtre du Châtelet/Teatro Real Marie-Noëlle Robert/Théâtre du Châtelet/Teatro Real

Here’s my latest essay for San Francisco Opera, which is staging a production of The Barber of Seville directed by Emilio Sagi (fresh from his enjoyable work on Seattle Opera’s Daughter of the Regiment):

If Gioachino Rossini were to revisit today’s opera scene, he’d probably have mixed feelings about the remarkable tenacity of The Barber of Seville in the repertoire. (Rossini loved to joke about the advantage of being born on February 29, which would make him a middle-aged man of 55.25 in leap year terms, not a Methuselah of 221.) Mixed because, though he certainly recognized Barber as a work di qualità—as Figaro asserts of his own profession—its popularity still distorts Rossini’s versatile legacy.

By now we’ve had the better part of a century of the Rossini renaissance to regale us with one rediscovery after another. The result has been to bring…

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