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The Other Barber of Seville

Will Liverman and David Govertsen

Will Liverman and David Govertsen

Monday at 6:00 PM

 
Listen to the recital.

In September of 1782, Giovanni Paisiello dedicated his new opera to Catherine the Great: The Barber of Seville, based on the first of Beaumarchais’ trilogy on the adventures of the servant Figaro. Two years before, the empress had been delighted by Beaumarchais’ play; Paisiello thought it a shrewd gesture to offer the same as an opera, and it was. The gathering of nobles at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg cheered Paisiello’s opera.

What did Mozart hear?

It wasn’t long before companies across Europe launched their own productions of it. In Vienna, one could see Paisiello’s Barber in Italian or in German; there were some 100 performances in that city alone, and a newcomer by the name of Mozart contributed an aria (K. 580) to the German version (a couple years later, Herr Mozart returned to the story to write the sequel La nozze di Figaro).

How times change. Few people today remember Paisiello or his Barber. Gioachino Rossini’s 1816 conjuring of that libretto became opera’s behemoth; Paisiello a mere footnote.

On the next Ryan Opera Center broadcast, hear music from Paisiello’s Barber of Seville, the one that fired Mozart’s imagination. The Ryan singers will also present some of Mascagni’s other music—other than Cavalleria rusticana; as well as a composer adored by Hector Berlioz: Charles Gounod, and selections from his opera Sappho. It’s a program of less-familiar works sung by the acclaimed singers of Lyric Opera’s Ryan Opera Center, including sopranos Emily Birsan, Tracy Cantin and Laura Wilde; mezzo-sopranos J’nai Bridges and Julie Anne Miller; tenors Adam Bonnani and John Irvin; baritones Anthony Clark Evans and Will Liverman; and bass-baritone Richard Ollarsaba. Pianists are Craig Terry, Eric Weimer, and Maureen Zoltek, and Colin Ure hosts.

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