Built in 1731, on the site of the ancient Theatre of Pompey, the Teatro di Argentina is one of the oldest theatres in Rome.
On February 20th, 1816, the Teatro di Argentina was the venue for the premiere of one of the world's most popular operas, Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville). However, on its opening night the opera was anything but a success, with some of the audience hissing and jeering throughout the performance!
The Barber of Seville had been commissioned by the theatre's impresario, towards the end of 1815, when Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868) was only twenty-three years old. Based on the play of the same name by the French writer Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais (1732-99), it was first called Almaviva, in deference to the popular composer Giovanni Paisiello (1740-1816), who, in 1782, had himself turned the play into an opera.
It was Paisiello's supporters who were largely responsible for the fiasco at the first night. On the second night, in the absence of this claque, Rossini's opera was acclaimed a triumph and the audience gathered outside the young composer's house to cheer. Rossini was then living nearby in Via dei Leutari, where a plaque records his stay.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private and
small-group walking tours
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