The Barber of Seville is Rossini’s most popular opera. Its effervescent overture (written originally for another work!) presents a perfect platform for the amusing plot in which the barber, Figaro, stage-manages a romance between Count Almaviva and Rosina, and puts to flight the old suitor, Dr Bartolo. ‘Largo al Factotum’ is one of the most popular arias in opera – nearly 200 years after its first performance it is still one of the great show-stoppers. But why was the opera received with boos and catcalls at its first performance in 1816, and why did Rossini return to the plot and environment presented so sublimely by Mozart? Opera writer Thomson Smillie and actor David Timson present the background in their informative but entertaining manner.