Just as the climax was reached, and the audience dur ing the grand finale was perhaps forgetting for the mo ment the earlier disturbances, an innocent pussy cat cau tiously found her way onto the stage, and bewildered by the lights and the actors, chased here and there, much to the discomfiture of the stage folk and to the amusement of the audience.
Added to these misfortunes, the house was well filled with Paisiello's supporters, many of whom were not aware of the fact that Rossini had begged and obtained permis sion of Paisiello to make use of Beaumarchais' " Barber of Seville," and so considered it a stolen opera. At the close of the performance the only hearty applause came from Rossini himself, which roused the ire of the public, and amid hisses and jeers he left the theater.
Rossini evidently cared little for public opinion, feel ing certain that when the work was really known to be his own and Sterbini's, and was staged without accident, that it would be accepted and accorded the praise it mer ited. At any rate, when his admirers and friends went to his home to condole with him they found Rossini sound asleep.
A very different reception was forthcoming the fol lowing night, though Rossini refused to appear at the the ater; this time the intrigues of Paisiello's partisans could not blind the public to the worth of the work. Better judgment and finer taste prevailed, and from that day to this the world has done homage to this masterpiece of Rossini's. Schumann says of it "Always gay and in
genious music; the best Rossini ever composed." If one would thoroughly enjoy this opera, he must listen carefully to the orchestra; it " not only enhances the themes, but it chatters and prattles with audacity, caprice, raillery, wit and charm, sometimes with and sometimes about the characters." One of the most beautiful and by some considered the most charming solo, is the one written after the first performance, the serenade " Ecco ridente it cielo" (" Smiling, the Heavens "). Another notable number is Figaro's celebrated description of his duties, the cavatina, "Largo al factotum della cetta." Rosina's song "Una voce poco fa" ("'Twas a voice that called to me") is sung dur ing the first act. As an accompaniment the orchestra plays a merry, cunning, teasing part, which is again heard in the second act when she meets the Count. In the merry music lesson scene the song practiced by Rosina has been lost, and it is the custom of every prima donna to interpo late her own particular show piece. The aria "Sempre gridi" ("Ever smiling") sung by the duenna Bertha, is termed the "aria di Sorbetto" because of the Italian cus tom of eating ices during its singing. The famous trio "Zitti, zitti," is one of the elegant ensembles of the master work and is followed by the bright finale with which the sparkling opera is brought to its close.