Il Barbiere di Siviglia - Opera - Season 19/20 Programming - Opéra national de Paris

  • Opera

    Il Barbiere di Siviglia

    Gioacchino Rossini

    Opéra Bastille - from 11 January to 12 February 2020

    Guergana Damianova/OnP

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Il Barbiere di Siviglia

Opéra Bastille - from 11 January to 12 February 2020


Il Barbiere di Siviglia

Gioacchino Rossini

Opéra Bastille - from 11 January to 12 February 2020

3h15 with 1 interval

Language : Italian

Surtitle : French / English

  • Opening night : 11 January 2020

    Under 40 : 20 January 2020


In few words:

In creating this ebullient opera buffa, Rossini captured all the fiery spirit of the comedy by Beaumarchais that inspired it. A native of Venice, birthplace of commedia dell’arte, Damiano Michieletto is highly sensitive to the burlesque vein in Rossini’s music. He transposes the action of this Useless Precaution to a modern-day Seville inspired by the cinema of Almodóvar. Bartolo’s monumental building, where Figaro’s free spirit whirls and twirls, allows this director to give free rein to his off‑beat imagination.

  • Opening
  • First part 100 mn
  • Intermission 30 mn
  • Second part 65 mn
  • End


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Audio clips

Le Barbier de Séville (saison 19/20)- Acte I (Lisette Oropesa)

Le Barbier de Séville (saison 19/20)- Acte II (Xabier Anduaga)

Le Barbier de Séville (saison 19/20)- Acte I (Krzysztof Bączyk)

Le Barbier de Séville (saison 19/20) - Ouverture


  • A new Count at Bastille


    A new Count at Bastille

  • Podcast Il Barbiere di Siviglia


    Podcast Il Barbiere di Siviglia

  • Figaro’s Flirtation


    Figaro’s Flirtation

  • Bad education


    Bad education

© Charles Duprat / OnP

A new Count at Bastille



A new Count at Bastille

In conversation with the young tenor Xabier Anduaga

By Konstantinos Aspiotis

Gioacchino Rossini's The Barber of Seville returns this season to the Opéra Bastille. Damiano Michieletto’s staging evolves in the interior of a colourful modern-day building reminiscent of several Italian films of the sixties. On this occasion, Octave interviewed the young Spanish tenor Xabier Anduaga, who is making his debut on the stage of the Paris Opera in the role of the Count Almaviva. He discusses his training, the musical characteristics of Rossini's score and the vocal and acting challenges of his role. 

Il Barbiere di Siviglia by Gioacchino Rossini
The composer's opera buffa transcends the spirit of Beaumarchais’ comedy and combines the absurd with a touch of satirical realism in a score where rhythm and virtuosity place the comic effects in an ongoing dramatic narration. ...

© Guergana Damianova/OnP

Podcast Il Barbiere di Siviglia


Podcast Il Barbiere di Siviglia

"Dance! Sing! 7 minutes at the Paris Opera" - by France Musique


By Charlotte Landru-Chandès, France Musique

"Dance! Sing! 7 minutes at the Paris Opera" offers original incursions into the season thanks to broadcasts produced by France Musique and the Paris Opera. For each opera or ballet production, Charlotte Landru-Chandès (opera) and Jean-Baptiste Urbain (dance), present the works and artists you are going to discover when you attend performances in our theatres. 

Il Barbiere di Siviglia by Gioacchino Rossini
The composer's opera buffa transcends the spirit of Beaumarchais’ comedy and combines the absurd with a touch of satirical realism in a score where rhythm and virtuosity place the comic effects in an ongoing dramatic narration. ...

© Jérémie Fischer

Figaro’s Flirtation


Figaro’s Flirtation

Love in drag


By Stéphanie Hochet

Figaro and Alban are class-mates. At first glance, they seem an unlikely pair: one of them is popular and a charmer, the other timid and reserved. But if Alban can help Figaro to boost his marks in mathematics, Figaro can certainly help Alban to attract a young girl. The beautiful Rosina from The Barber of Seville lives again in an amusing transposition of this romantic comedy of manners from Stéphanie Hochet’s pen. Against a backdrop of social determinism and gender issues, the author reveals the truth about amorous passion: who are we when we are in love?

Figaro and Alban have known each other since Year 8, but have not been the best of friends. At the age of 16, they find themselves in the same class, in the sixth form at the Lycée Ronsard in Paris. At first glance, they don’t seem to have much in common. Figaro is easy to approach, friendly, solidly built, whereas Alban is tall and skinny and rather reserved. Figaro comes to school dressed in a leather jacket and always wears the same pair of faded, frayed jeans, Alban is often dressed in Ralph Lauren shirts and well-cut jackets. Not surprisingly, the two boys come from very different backgrounds. Figaro proclaims his working-class origins with thoroughly communist pride, whilst Alban prefers to avoid mentioning that he lives in 162m2 in the 16th arrondissement and that, yes, the ring on his finger really is a signet ring inherited from his grandfather on which you can see the family coat of arms: two cats hérissonnés. Alban isn’t stupid, he has noticed that his social background does not go down well at the lycée where a streetwise swagger is more appreciated.

However, at the start of the new school year, things change. The simple fact of being in the same class lead Alban and Figaro to talk to each other more than before. Figaro realises little by little that Alban could be useful to him for his maths homework. The latter is clearly the best in the class in this domain. Figaro struggles to get even mediocre results. Alban has had private coaching. Figaro is lucky to have a mother who encourages him to study. Naturally, the boy cheats. He’s in the habit of sitting next to Alban during maths tests, so as to “check” his answers against those of his friend. Figaro’s marks improve. Alban is more flattered at having attracted a boy as popular as Figaro than ruffled by his uncouthness. Alban has almost no friends at the lycée. His circle is that of his riding club in Vincennes. He has never managed to render himself likeable at school.

The two boys become friends. Even if neither of them are taken in by the self-interested nature of their friendship.

Little by little, Alban loses his rigid side and talks more easily to Figaro. The latter is amused by his new friend’s awkward manners and teases him gently.

At the start of winter, during a history lesson, Alban summons up his courage and asks Figaro,

“Are you seeing anyone at the moment?”


“That suits me”, says Alban.

Figaro looks at him half-surprised, half-amused.


“I’ve fallen in love and I’d like you to help me.”

“Can’t you manage on your own?” asks Figaro, whose flirtations are

numerous and notorious.”

“It’s complicated. She’s already going out with someone. With the worst sort of idiot.”

“Who is she?”

“She’s called Rosina, she’s the prettiest girl I’ve ever seen in my life. I noticed her a month ago and I discovered her affair with that cretin Flavian two weeks ago. It’s breaking my heart. I can’t sleep anymore.”

Figaro looks at Alban’s face. Under his eyes, purple shadows indicate that he is not lying. What an odd guy, this Alban. Figaro suspects that he is utterly gauche with women.

“I’ll see what I can do to help you. Flavien has weaknesses that I’m well aware of. And he’s very naïve.”

“I’ll owe you one!”

Figaro goes out with whoever he wants. His charm operates very quickly and his reputation as popular (cool, outgoing with girls, insolent with teachers, wholeheartedly anarchist and very nice to look at) precedes him and flatters his listeners. When Flavien sees him coming towards him during break, he’s surprised but smiles irrepressibly.

“How are you, mate?”

“Good, and you?”

“I’m organising a drink with some mates in this cool bar on Friday, d’you fancy coming?”

“Why not! I’ll come with Rosina.”

“Come on your own, it’s guys only. We’ll discuss the talent. I’ll bring some cognac and you can tell me what you think of it.”

Flavien is a bit disconcerted by this invitation. He finds the idea strange but nothing is really that surprising when it comes from Figaro, a guy who looks like a rock star and even intimidates some of the teachers – rumour has it that Figaro has had an affair with a biology teacher.

Flavien has been going out with Rosina for just over a month. Recently, they’ve been so close that neither can do anything without the other. Flavien, who has always been independent and a bit fickle, is delighted by this night out with the lads. Rosina will understand, she’s an intelligent girl.

At that precise moment, Rosina crosses the playground to join him. This slight little figure with green eyes and red hair easily elicits desire and love amongst the boys. She’s as vivacious as wildfire, cheerful as a chaffinch, fragile as a rose petal and as timid as a Renaissance virgin. She looks at Flavien with an expression that there’s no mistaking.

“How can she be in love with that buffoon?” muses Figaro. “We’ll soon remedy this.”

She asks Flavien:

“Are we seeing each other Friday?”

“No, I’m busy already.”

“The day after then?”

“If I can, I’ll ring you,” he says, looking at the screen of his I-phone. Surprised, the young girl walks off.

“Charming but a bit clinging, you know what it’s like,” says Flavien to Figaro.

“Tell me about it,” replies Figaro, repressing a desire to slap him. It’ll do you good to go out without her, especially as I want to introduce you to someone.”

Figaro explains his plan to Alban:

“Friday evening, you’ll be called Alma. You’re going to show off that slim waist that all the girls envy. I’ll bring dresses and some makeup.”

“Shall I borrow one of my mother’s wigs?”

“Yes, that’s a great idea. You’ve got to entangle Flavien in your web. And I’ll be there to take beautiful photos.”

Alban bursts out laughing.

“And supposing he recognises me?”

“Only a girl would be smart enough for that.”

The disguise is a success: Alban looks in the mirror with entranced stupefaction.

“Ah, you laugh to see yourself looking so beautiful in this mirror?” says Figaro. “If I didn’t know better, I’d chat you up.”

“What a shame you do know.”

The two boys go off to the Peacock, Figaro’s headquarters. Their entrance causes a stir. Everybody is staring at the beautiful stranger.

“Introduce me then,” Flavien asks Figaro.

“Alma, this is Flavien. Flavien, this is Alma.”

“How come we’ve never met before?”

In an assumed voice, Alma replies, her eyes lowered,

“If you only knew how many times I’ve seen you without you noticing me.”

That was all it took for Flavien to fall for Alma.

“Let’s put that right straightaway!”

“Here’s to your meeting!” Figaro intervenes.

The boys down their glasses of cognac in one.

“For a slender miss, you can hold your drink!”

“I can hold other things even better.”

Figaro looks away abruptly to stifle a laugh.

“I get the impression you don’t need me anymore. I’ll leave you, I see Jérôme is out of cognac.”

“Why do I feel like it’s the first time?” asks Flavien.

“Because it is.”

“It’s incredible.”

“It’s the first time that I can feel the magic that I inspire. Until now, I’ve just been a bystander.”

“Why me?”

“I’ve been obsessed with you for so long.”

“Well, go on! Are we at the same college?”

“I’ve been seeing you in the street ever since I was ten.”

Flavien’s mouth feels dry and his temples are on fire. He grabs the young girl’s wrist in a movement of desire.

“I’ve got to see you alone. Quickly!”

Alma brings her lips towards Flavien’s, not without having checked that Figaro was photographing them with his cell-phone. The kiss is only the more spectacular as a result. Then, Alma is gone without a word of explanation. Flavien joins Figaro.

“You were right. I’ve never met a girl like that before.”

During break, Figaro joins Rosina with a pained expression on his face.

“Are you the one going out with Flavien?”

“Has something happened to him?”

“You could put it like that, yes.”

He shows her the photos.

“It was on Friday night.”

“But who is that girl?!”

“Ask Flavien.”

“I’ve too much pride for that.”

“You’re quite right. You’re worth better than him.”

“Don’t judge him too quickly. His dad’s in prison, he lacks guidance.”

“In prison? Yeah right, his father is a stockbroker in Neuilly.”

“I don’t believe you. He talks about the prison every day.”

Figaro takes out Paris Match from his jacket.

“See what lovely receptions they have in prison. Champagne no less.”

The young girl takes the magazine from him.

“And Flavien’s there as well!”

“You see it’s not the first time he’s lied.”

“I never want to see him again.”

“I can’t invite you to embassy receptions, but what do you say to a beer in the bar on the corner?”

“You’re nice.”

Alban joins Figaro.

“Nothing’s turning out as I planned. Rosina doesn’t interest me anymore. All I can think about is Flavien. I don’t want to be anyone but Alma.”

“That’s up to you. I’ll make you up whenever you like.”

“Teach me how to do it instead.”

At the Tiercé café, Figaro explains to Rosina the charm of Picon liqueur with bitter. She bursts out laughing and lets herself be kissed.

“You know, I saw Flavien with his new girlfriend and I’m not at all jealous.”

“Much good may it do him, and much good may it do you.”

“She’s weird, that girl. Personally, I find her touching. I’d never seen her before.”

“She looks like a drag-queen.”

“Figaro! I forbid you to saying anything bad about transvestites. It’s not worthy of you.”

“Don’t forget that I’m only a working class lover.”

“That’s the least of your qualities.”

They kiss languorously in front of all the other Tiercé customers.

Il Barbiere di Siviglia by Gioacchino Rossini
The composer's opera buffa transcends the spirit of Beaumarchais’ comedy and combines the absurd with a touch of satirical realism in a score where rhythm and virtuosity place the comic effects in an ongoing dramatic narration. ...

© Luigi Caputo

Bad education


Bad education

The Barber of Seville as seen by Damiano Michieletto


By Solène Souriau

Damiano Michieletto's production of The Barber of Seville is back on stage at the Opéra Bastille, much to our delight. A portrait of the highly sought-after director whose production of Rossini's "opera buffa” elates audiences every night. 

When the curtain rises on Damiano Michieletto's production of The Barber of Seville, these tagged walls of the buildings, this "Barracuda" bar and its neon sign in pink letters – where a few regulars are lounging around - this old blue Ford parked in the middle of the stage; all this can be disconcerting for the spectator. By transposing the plot to the popular neighbourhood of an archetypal Mediterranean town, the Italian director portrays daily life today in its most commonplace details: a game of cards, neighbours sharing a beer, clothes hanging from the windows. Nevertheless, the spectator, who is more familiar with this sort of audacity these days, very quickly finds his bearings. The balcony, an iconic element in the libretto and around which the entire plot revolves, has not disappeared: it still operates as the link between a wide open exterior and the confinement of the domestic world, the sole guarantee for Rosina of her one and only area of freedom which is also, more broadly speaking, that of the opera. 

For Michieletto, a single decor suffices, and using a rotating platform he is able to alternate between the facade of the building and the interior of Dr Bartolo’s house. This dichotomy of space, materialised by a role-reversal where the interior is as evocative as the exterior, gives way to one more symbolic, an overpowering indoor melodrama which is stifling the young girl’s desire for emancipation. Although the balconies and windows are constantly occupied and buzzing with life, evoking Italian films of the sixties, the popular and colourful interior is reminiscent of the films of Almodovar, the photography of Robert Polidori as well as the hot and steamy novels of Federico García Lorca. 

These are all references that nourish the world of the Italian stage director who clearly wishes to place his Barber of Seville in a rich social and Latin folk tradition. In the same way that Bartolo's room, full of old trophies and stacks of files, betrays the character’s greed, the director assembles a multitude of stage effects, a welter of information, so as to give depth to his characters and endow them with a tangible past. Furthermore, he does not hesitate to forge closer links between the characters – Berta is no longer the housekeeper but Bartolo’s sister – in order to anchor the opera, not in a social drama where the issues are linked to questions of power, but in a more profound family story.    

Rossini today

"For me, it is obvious that all the libretti set to music by Rossini speak to us about contemporary life and the world today". As the director explains, updating the libretto is the only way of bringing this drama to life: "The problems are always the same. The story tells of the oppression of a young woman by a man who sexually desires her. The real problem is not the money". Thus the characters, judging by costume designer Silvia Aymonino's sketches, are more inspired by pop icons of the 20th century than by 18th century fashions. The count looks a bit like Pete Doherty and the shadow of Penelope Cruz hangs over Rosina. The walls of her room are covered with posters of singers and young actors – that of Johnny Depp is particularly noticeable – making this prisoner appear familiar and recognisable to us. Rosina is no longer an aristocratic pupil, well-educated and languid, but the present-day incarnation of an insolent and determined adolescent. 

We are far from Beaumarchais' version which emphasised the nobility and elegance of the character (it is certainly difficult to imagine that this Rosina will become the Countess of the "Marriage"). Except that when all is said and done this exuberant southerner is close to the version of Rossini and Sterbini, proving herself to be unflinching in the face of her oppressor, and certain arias of her arias such as "Questo cane de tutore, ah che rabbia mi fa!", are of an astonishing brutality. Let us not forget the words of Stendhal: "Rosina is not so much amorous as cunning and mischievous” and Michieletto seems to agree.

© Bernard Coutant / OnP

Furthermore, the director seeks to invest his characters with an instinctive depth and refuses to summarily reduce them to the empty models of character comedy. He gives them a real personality and opts for bold interpretations. The Count, for example, acts like a man whose social position and wealth excuse a mischievous frivolity and lack of seriousness. As seen by the director, his only interest in this adventure is in seeking a passing and almost libertine entertainment. 

This vision of a privileged man corresponds moreover with Beaumarchais’ original version where the Count explains that he is desperately searching for a young woman "whose name is Rosina, of noble blood, an orphan and married to Bartolo, an old doctor in the city ". Even if the Count is mistaken and Rosina is still only Bartolo’s pupil, the desire that drives him is certainly not that of signing a marriage contract. Against all expectations, Bartolo's character appeals to the director and seems to arouse within him profound feelings of empathy: "I like Bartolo very much. He is a man who suffers from loneliness and would like to be loved. He will always be a loser. Yesterday, today and tomorrow. I must admit that I recognise myself a little bit in him... "

Avoiding repetition

This season, the spectator will witness the revival of this production which Damiano Michieletto intends to be more spirited than ever. "I work with the singers and when it comes to a new cast and a different ensemble, new ideas spring forth and I can develop and improve the performance. A staging is never perfect, there is always something new to discover". And from the first day of rehearsals, he carefully observes the singers so as to subsequently adjust himself to their concerns whilst remaining as close as possible to his original ambitions. 

With just a few comments, he goes through each character and explains his intention behind each gesture, each action. For Damiano Michieletto works with living bodies and their morphology, taking into account their capabilities just as much as their limits. In his opinion it is paramount to transmit energy to the singers who, when confronted with the revival’s new decor, may feel alienated: "Repetition has to be avoided at all costs. I give them energy so that they can make the staging their own, for if they feel that it is not their production, the audience also will receive this impression".

© Bernard Coutant / OnP

Staying alert: this is Damiano Michieletto’s obsession. In a realistic aesthetic, the director opts for temporal continuity, with music that unfurls the greatest arias in the repertoire in a setting that also unfolds before our eyes. This ambiance of reality nonetheless gives way to moments of madness, such as the climax at the end of Act I, where the characters are seized by an emotion that transcends them: the music takes possession of each of them and launches a frantic race. By means of deft lighting changes, the work tumbles into a muddled round dance where the characters, the musicians and the opera itself fall prey to a disembodied frenzy, given over to a collective trance. 

Alternating hyper-realism with fanciful explosions, Damiano Michieletto endeavours primarily to study human nature in all its contradictory facets. Clearly, the transposition is intended not so much to cause indignation as to involve the spectator in a spirited and rich story. Attention is paid to simple actions within a perpetual flux, always related to the music and united with the desire to quite simply make the audience laugh. 

For, in his words, "the comedy is in the details", and even if it is only a comedy, all the same we cannot prevent ourselves from recognising the director in one of Beaumarchais’ celebrated remarks: "What do we ask of the Theatre? That it gives us pleasure! Weaknesses, excesses, these things never change but conceal themselves in a thousand forms under the mask of prevailing morals: to tear away the mask and show them barefaced, such is the noble task of the man devoted to the Theatre".

Il Barbiere di Siviglia by Gioacchino Rossini
The composer's opera buffa transcends the spirit of Beaumarchais’ comedy and combines the absurd with a touch of satirical realism in a score where rhythm and virtuosity place the comic effects in an ongoing dramatic narration. ...


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