[Met Performance] CID:1200
Metropolitan Opera Premiere
Il Barbiere di Siviglia {1} Metropolitan Opera House: 11/23/1883.
 (Metropolitan Opera Premiere)

Metropolitan Opera House
November 23, 1883
Metropolitan Opera Premiere


Figaro..................Giuseppe Del Puente
Rosina..................Marcella Sembrich
Count Almaviva..........Roberto Stagno
Dr. Bartolo.............Baldassare Corsini
Don Basilio.............Giovanni Mirabella
Berta...................Emily Lablache
Fiorello................Ludovico Contini
Sergeant................Amadeo Grazzi

Conductor...............Auguste Vianesi

Director................Mr. Corani
Director................Mr. Abbiati
Set Designer............Charles Fox, Jr.
Set Designer............William Schaeffer
Set Designer............Gaspar Maeder
Set Designer............Mr. Thompson
Costume Designer........D. Ascoli
Costume Designer........Henry Dazian

[In the Lesson Scene Sembrich sang Deh torna mio bene (Proch), Wiegenlied (Ries) and Ich liebe dich (Foerster).]

Il Barbiere di Siviglia received nine performances this season.

[Alternate title: The Barber of Seville.]

Review in The New York Times:

"The Barber" was sung last evening at the Metropolitan Opera House, with Mme. Sembrich, of course, as Rosina. This charming artists has been distinctly successful in everything she has attempted this season, and her performance of Rossini's merry heroine will take its place in the remembrance of our opera-goers. Along with her Lucia, her Elvira (in "I Puritani") her Violetta and her Gilda, as a fresh, sympathetic, and thoroughly enjoyable impersonation. In her acting of this role Mme. Sembrich is scarcely less successful than in Verdi's Violetta, and the contrast between the two characters is sufficient to indicate her versatility. The demureness, roguishness, and coquetry of the ward of Dr. Bartolo have rarely been presented more effectively, while it is needless to say, perhaps, that to the eye this Rosina, in the bright garb of the Sevillian maiden, presents a fascinating picture. The music of Rossini, it is true, is not so well suited to the voice of the Hungarian songstress as that of Bellini or Donizetti, although it seems a trifle hypercritical, while the memory of her performance last evening is still so fresh, to thus discriminate. But the demands of the great Italian composer upon the voice are most exacting, and in no part which this artist has yet essayed here is the slight but nevertheless distinct difference in quality between her marvelously pure high notes and those of the middle register more apparent. This does not detract from the artistic merit of Mme. Sembrich's performance, nor does the admission of the fact make her voice less beautiful than it is. Her singing last evening was most agreeable, and to enumerate all of the numbers in which she was heard with admiration would be to catalogue the salient points of the opera. Her "Una voce" was sung with exquisite freshness of voice and purity of intonation, and in the duet with Figaro, later in this act, she displayed that remarkable facility of execution and wealth of voice which first secured to her the favor of this public. But it was in the music lesion scene that Mme. Sembrich most thoroughly captivated her hearers last evening and in that, of course, the music was not only not Rossini's but was utterly unlike Rossini in every feature. The song and variations, by Proch, first sung in this country by Mme. Peschka-Leutner 14 years ago, was the first selection introduced by Mme. Sembrich in this division of the opera, and the dazzling brilliancy of her execution of this bit of music teacher's work, and the ease with which she overcame the difficulties of its most bewildering bars fully merited the wild applause which followed it. Afterwards she sang, with much grace and tenderness, two German love songs.

Without a great Rosina "The Barber" nowadays would be simply unbearable. Its everlasting recitatives and monotonous finales and its archaic Italian comedy which irritates rather than amuses, belong decidedly to a past age. "La Gazza Ladra" was interesting as a curiosity, a relic of the remote past, but "Il Barbiere di Siviglia" has been done to death. Signor Del Puente is a capital Figaro, handsome, dashing, and thoroughly familiar with the traditions of the part, but Figaro (Rossini's Figaro) scarcely interests a modern audience. Corsini does Dr. Bartolo well enough, but the Doctor is a bore. Signor Mirabella's rich and sonorous voice, which seemed better than ever last night, is worthy of more interesting music than the "La calunnia." Signor Stagno was the Almaviva last evening. He indulged, more than usual, in mezzo voce singing, and he pleased his audience. His sustained notes, as usual, evoked cheers. "Ecco ridente" would have been a capital bit of singing if the throaty quality of some of the tenor's notes had not spoiled it. On the whole however, his work was very well done.

Photograph of Marcella Sembrich as Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia by Erwin Raupp.

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