The artistic director Yuri Alexandrov, known for his extraordinary reading of opera scores, this time staged the opera in the “classical style.”
For the first time Il barbiere di Siviglia was staged in Teatro Argentina under the title Almaviva, ossia l’inutile precauzione to distinguish it from Paisiello’s opera Il barbiere di Siviglia, written twenty years earlier.
On the first evening, Rossini's new work failed, but was soon appreciated, and today, as for two centuries, Il barbiere di Siviglia captivates the public with inexhaustible wit, melodic generosity and virtuoso sparkle of vocals. The rapid dynamics of the stage action, the abundance of comic situations, the plot, replete with unexpected twists and turns, seem to have been pulled out of life itself. This opera was simply created for the troupe of the St. Petersburg Opera, which has the necessary set of voices and wonderful acting abilities.
In one of the streets of Seville, musicians were called together by Fiorello to accompany the young Count Almaviva, who was singing the serenade to his beloved Rosina. However, these efforts are useless. Guardian Dr. Bartolo is keeping eye on Rosina. Fiorello chases away the musicians by the order of irritated count. A song is heard in the distance. Almaviva and Fiorello are hiding to see who it is. It turns out that Figaro, a barber, approaches singing well-known cavatina “Largo al factotum” (Make way for the factotum). It turns out that Figaro and the count have been knowing each other for a long time. The Count tells Figaro about his love for beautiful Rosina, mistakenly thinking that she is Dr. Bartolo's bride. Figaro laughs. He reveals the truth to the count - Bartolo is just the guardian, of the girl he likes. Figaro advises Almaviva to sing canzonetta and explain to Rosina in love but in disguise: as a poor Lindoro, in order to find out her true feelings. At first, Rosina positively perceives his apperance but then suddenly runs away from the balcony. Soon she appears again but accompanied by a doctor. She wants to pass a note to her admirer and therefore, supposedly by chance, drops a piece of paper with a note from the balcony. The doctor, at her request, runs for the paper, but the count is quicker. Bartolo is looking for a piece of paper. Rosina assures him that it was blown away. The suspicious guardian feels deception and tells Rosina to come back to the house, promising to brick up all the windows and doors. He is sure that the piece was dropped and on purpose.
Almaviva asks Figaro to help him with his marriage, promising a solid reward. Their conversation is interrupted by Dr. Bartolo who is arguing that he must immediately marry Rosina. He asks his servant Ambrogio to tell Basilio to wait for him. This is heard by the count and Figaro. According to Figaro, Basilio is the inruguer and alchemist in Seville, as well as the music teacher of this girl. Therefore, both of them decide to act quickly. Taking advantage of Bartolo's absence, the inventive Figaro immediately comes up with an idea: Almaviva has to dress as a drunk soldier and sneak into Bartolo's house saying that his army unit is stationed in the city and he will live there. This count likes this idea. He asks Figaro where to find him in urgency. Figaro describes his shop, claiming that the count cannot be mistaken, as it is the most fashionable place in the city. The scene ends with a cheerful duet in which the count in love expresses his joy at the prospect of success of the whole venture, and the barber rejoices at the project, which is already generating income.
Rosina is bored in her room. She confesses her love for the unknown performer of serenades Lindoro, then vows to belong to him forever, despite the intrugues of the guardian who opposed her. She continues to talk about how wonderful and docile she will be if she is not contradicted. Otherwise, she intends to become a true devil, a shrew.
She is trying to find the way to give the letter to her beloved Lindoro. Figaro enters to the room, he asks Rosina how her things are. Figaro is hiding. A doctor enters and cursing the barber... Basilio appears. Bartolo asks to arrange his wedding immediately. The music teacher, in turn, reveals to the doctor that Count Almaviva who is in love with Rosina is already in Seville. Bartolo is terrified. Basilio promises to kick Almaviva out of the town through slander. He immediately explains how to discredit someone ..., but for a reward. Having received the approval of Basilio, he leaves. Figaro, in his hideout, overhears the plans of two conspirators.
He tells Rosina that the doctor decided to marry her immediately. Rosina is furious. She argues that her opinion also means something and will decide everything in her own way. Next, Figaro tells her that Lindoro, his supposed nephew, is in love with her. He persuades her to write at least a couple of lines to the poor man dying of love. He finds out that the letter was already prepared by a cunning girl. Figaro gladly assumes the duties of the postman and promises Rosina that she will see her Lindoro very soon. ... Rosina is happy that her plan has been crowned with success. Bartolo appears again. He interrogates Rosina about what she talked with Figaro for so long. Then there is another dialogue in which Rosina tries to steer her guardian along the wrong path, telling him all sorts of lies. Bartolo sees it all and understands. Having caught her in lies, he orders Rosina to be locked up in her room. Shortly after, according to the plan, Count Almaviva, dressed as a cavalry soldier enters the house of Bartolo, acting as a drunk man. He claims that he will live in the house of the doctor. None of Bartolo's protests help. Almaviva’s plan, however, collapses, for the doctor received a privilege from the city authorities - his house was freed from quartering, but the count did not give up. He manages to imperceptibly make it clear to Rosina that he is Lindoro. He enters the role of a drunk soldier and offers Bartolo to arrange a duel. It is getting so tense as one after another the servant Berta, the barber Figaro and Don Basilio join the scandal. Attracted by the noise, the guards comes to the house.
The annoying soldier is going to be sent to prison but he whispers to the commander of the guard his real name and rank, and the brave officer and his subordinates give the count honor. Dr. Bartolo is being puzzled. The situation ends with the fact that each participant recognizes that it is completely insane.
The disguised Almaviva appears in the house of Bartolo again. He introduces himself as Don Alonso, Basilio’s disciple who is kept in bed by a sudden illness. He underestimates the suspicion of Bartolo who decided to immediately go and visit his friend. In order to keep him, imaginary music teacher mentions the name of Count Almaviva. Bartolo demands an explanation and then Don Alonso (the count) has to report that he lives in the same house with Almaviva, and they intercepted Rosina’s letter, which he is ready to give to the doctor. He lies that he received it from the mistress of the count and offers to use this letter when the moment comes. He manages to convince the guardian that Rosina will fall into despair and immediately marry him. Bartolo is delighted. He believed that Don Basilio himself sent the imaginary teacher to him. Thanks to this deception by Alonso, Rosina learns the lesson. But they are not able to stay together alone because Bartolo does not want to miss the chance to enjoy the her singing. Rosina sings a song from a non-existent play, turning it into a love dialogue with Lindoro. Bartolo, who had fallen asleep in half of the aria, claims that this new trend in music bores him. He sings an old-fashioned sentimental romance in a snuffing voice. Suddenly Figaro comes, insisting that he should shave the doctor and can only do it today. Bartolo is in dispute: on the one hand, it is necessary to shave, on the other Figaro cannot be left alone with Rosina. What if he again acts as a postman? Then the doctor decides, in violation of all propriety, to shave in the room with Rosina and send Figaro for the instruments. The lovers are delighted, as Figaro has the opportunity to remove the key of the blinds from the bunch. Suddenly, the sound of breaking dishes is heard and Bartolo rushes out of the room to save his property. When Bartolo returned, he was tearing his hair out of the fact that all the dishes were broken in his house, and Figaro happily complains that it is impossible to see anything in this dark corridor, and the doctor should be happy that he survived by clutching the saving key.
Suddenly Don Basilio appears. After a slight confusion, everyone begins to convince the music teacher that he is as pale as a dead man and has all the signs of scarlet fever. They whisper, and explain, and sing, and shout it to him until he begins to fever. Don Basilio immediately realizes that it is best for him to go to bed,
Sending Don Basilio home, everyone is relieved and up for music and shaving. The count declares that before the end of the lesson he must give Rosina the last instructions in the art of singing. Lovers, however, still not manage to be alone. Bartolo does not leave them for a minute, and Figaro shaves him right there in the room. The cunning barber makes sure that Bartolo does not get pleasure from peeking. He makes so much foam and applies it on the eyes, on the nose, on the ears, and on the doctor's mouth. While the guardian’s face is in foam, the lovers agree to escape. However, Bartolo manages to see that the “teacher” and Rosina are engaged not only in singing. He realizes that Rosina's beloved has sneaked into the house in a Don Alonso's suit. Being furious, he kicked everyone out of the house.
Left alone, Berta (the maid) talks about the stupidity of all those old people who in their old age intend to marry.
Awakened Bartolo decides to act. He disappoints Rosina in her love, showing her a letter in her hands as a proof of the disloyalty of her admirer. He completely “exposes” Lindoro and Figaro, saying that they are spies of Count Almaviva. Seeing the fright and despair of her, Bartolo triumphs and orders her to lock all the doors. Having heard that Lindoro and Figaro will come soon after Rosina, he runs after the guards and the notary. In his absence, Figaro and the graph are returned. They explain to Rosina that Lindoro and Almaviva are the same person. Rosina is happy. Finally, the moment came when she could free herself from the guardian’s captivity and marry her lover. At this time, Basilio and the notary appear. The sly barber immediately finds a way out: he presents Rosina to the notary as his niece, the bride of Count Almaviva ... And calls Don Basilio and Figaro the witnesses. Basilio tries to protest but the count and Rosina give him to understand that he has only one choice: either a ring with a precious stone, or a bullet in the forehead. Basilio’s answer is beyond any doubt - he chooses an expensive ring. By the time the doctor returns, the notary already arranged Rosina’s marriage with Count Almaviva...
The opera Little Red Riding Hood, dedicated to Tsarevich Alexei Romanov, was written in 1911.
A significant place in the repertoire of the St. Petersburg Opera is taken by the cycle called “Operetta in the Opera House”.
The performance by Yuri Alexandrov gives the audience a new look at the familiar plot of the most popular Russian opera.