"This is one Callas set where the prima donna doesn't by any means dominate. Gobbi's quick-witted, fast-speaking Figaro is the pivot of the action, mercurial in fioriture and constantly alive to action and reaction. Who wouldn't be spellbound by the seductive fresh sounds of the young Alva's Count? Listen to all three in the Second Act trio, and if you can remember hearing it better done, I'll eat my critical hat." Synopsis The quintessential Italian comic opera, Il barbiere di Siviglia is based on the French play by Beaumarchais and presents several characters who also appear in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro. The barber of Seville is Figaro, who introduces himself in the hyperactive aria `Largo al factotum'. His resourcefulness is put to the test by Count Almaviva, who has fallen in love with the spirited Rosina. She is the closely guarded ward of Dr Bartolo, who has plans to make her his wife. By means of disguise and subterfuge, Almaviva finds his way into Bartolo's house and by the end of the opera has married Rosina. The spirit of knife-edge intrigue is immediately evoked in the opera's overture, while further famous numbers include Rosina's `Una voce poco fa', displaying both the sweet and wilful sides of her character, and `Contro un cor', which she sings in a music lesson to her supposed music teacher - in fact Almaviva in disguise. Her real music teacher is Don Basilio whose aria `La calunnia' suggests gossip as the ideal way of ruining Almaviva's reputation. It provides a perfect example of the trademark `Rossini crescendo', building from a whisper to a cannonade.