Even people who don’t know much about opera — in other words, most of us — likely will recognize the “Largo al factotum” aria from Gioacchino Antonio Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville.” Here is the start of the opera’s Wikipedia entry:
The Barber of Seville, or The Futile Precaution (Italian: Il barbiere di Siviglia, ossia L’inutile precauzione) is an opera buffa in two acts by Gioachino Rossini with an Italian libretto by Cesare Sterbini. The libretto was based on Pierre Beaumarchais’s French comedy Le Barbier de Séville (1775). The première of Rossini’s opera (under the title Almaviva, o sia L’inutile precauzione) took place on 20 February 1816 at the Teatro Argentina, Rome. (Continue Reading…)
Here is the synopsis and the paragraph of NNDB’s profile of Rossini that touches on the opera. the whole profile is worth reading.
In Almaviva, produced in the beginning of the next year in Rome, the libretto, a version of Pierre Beaumarchais‘ Barbier de Seville by Sterbini, was the same as that already used by Paisiello in his Barbiere, an opera which had enjoyed European popularity for more than a quarter of a century. The indignation of Paisiello’s admirers expressed itself strongly on the production of the new setting, but in the thirteen days devoted to the composition of his Almaviva, Rossini had created such a masterpiece of musical comedy that the fame of Paisiello’s opera was transferred to his, to which the title of Il Barbiere di Siviglia passed as an inalienable heritage. (Continue Reading…)
Above, Kent Nagano conducts The SummerFest Chamber Orchestra in the opera’s overture last year. The video originally was offered by The University of California’s UCSD-TV. Below is “Largo al factotum,” which translates to “make way for the factorum.” Most people will recognize the melody and the line “Figaro! Figaro! Figaro!” Gino Quillico sung it at the Schwetzingen Festival, though the link is unclear on the year of the performance. I may have some of these details wrong about these two videos.