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Rossini’s contract for The Barber of Seville, 1815

February 24, 2009

This is the text of a contract signed in 1815 by Rossini and the impresario Duca Francesco Sforza-Cesarini for Il Barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville).



By the present act, done as a private agreement, but which shall have the force and validity of a public contract, there is stipulated between the contracting parties everything hereinbelow:

The signor duca Sforza-Cesarini, impresario of  the aforementioned theater, engages the maestro Gioachino Rossini for the forthcoming Carnival season of the year 1816; said Rossini promises and binds himself to compose and stage the second opera (buffa) to be presented during the aforementioned season at the theater indicated, and to whichever libretto, be it new or old, shall be given him by the aforementioned Duca, impresario.

Maestro Rossini binds himself to deliver the score by the middle of the month of January and to adapt it to the voices of the singers; and further binds himself to make all those changes which may be considered necessary both to the good success of the music and to the advantage and demands of the singers.

Maestro Rossini also promises and binds himself to be present in Rome to carry out the present contract not later than the end of the current December, and to turn over to the copyist the first act of  his opera, entirely completed, by January 20, 1816.  (January 20 is specified to the end of  being able to carry out the rehearsals perfectly and to be able to go on stage the day that shall please the impresario, the performance being fixed for about February 5.)  And also Maestro Rossini, equally, must deliver his second act to the copyist at the desired time, so that there may be time to prepare it and carry out the rehearsals early enough to be able to go on stage on the evening indicated above; otherwise, Maestro Rossini will expose himself to all damages, as it should be thus and not otherwise.

Further, Maestro Rossini will be obliged to conduct his opera as is customary and to be present in persons [sic] at the vocal and orchestral rehearsals as often as may be necessary, whether in the theater or elsewhere, at the demand of the director, and also binds himself to attend the first performances to be given consecutively and to conduct the performance at the cembalo, etc., because it should be thus and not otherwise.

In payment for this labors, the director binds himself to pay the total sum and quantity of 400 Roman scudi once the first three performances that [Rossini] should conduct at the cembalo have been concluded.

It is agreed that during the months when the theater is interdicted or closed, whether by act of the authorities or  for another unforseen reason, the practices of the Roman theaters and those of all other countries in similar cases will be observed, etc.  As a guarantee of the exact carrying-out of the present contract, it will be signed by the above mentioned impresario and by Maestro Gioachino Rossini; further, the impresario grants living quarters to Maestro Rossini for the entire duration of the contract, in the same house assigned to signor Luigi Zamboni.


From a document in the British Library.  Translator unknown.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Cailyn permalink
    March 3, 2009 7:47 am

    First blog I read after wakeup from sleep today!

    Mind Blowing!

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