If you were to walk up to someone on the street and ask them to sing an opera tune, they would very likely start off chanting “Figaro, Figaro, Figaro, Fi-i-i-igaro-o-o-o!” The repeated Figaros are one of the most familiar parts of operatic singing in popular culture.
Chances are you too are familiar with this famous aria sung at Figaro’s first entrance in Rossini’s opera The Barber of Seville, or Il Barbiere di Siviglia. Figaro’s aria is titled Largo al Factotum, which translates into English as “Make way for the factotum.” The term “factotum” refers to a general servant and comes from Latin where it literally means “do everything.” Today a factotum might be called a handyman or jack of all trades.
Woody Woodpecker’s The Barber of Seville
Willie the Whale
Watch Willie The Operatic Whale (narration in Italian). The aria starts at 5:27 and goes to 7:19.
The Rabbit of Seville
The Rabbit of Seville by Warner Brothers can be viewed on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/gerald.hine.39/videos/536800093156616/However we can probably credit Warner Brothers and Bugs Bunny for helping The Barber of Seville‘s overture make its way onto the TVs and into the hearts of many. In Rabbit of Seville, Bugs Bunny flees into the backstage area of the Hollywood Bowl stage on which is playing the opera The Barber of Seville with Elmer Fudd in close pursuit. Elmer races onto the stage seeking Bugs Bunny. Seeing an opportunity to fight on his terms, Bugs raises the curtain on Elmer, trapping him on stage. As the orchestra begins playing, Bugs enters as the barber who is going to make sure that Elmer will get a grooming he will never forget. Immediately recognizable and delightfully energetic, The Rabbit of Seville, created in 1950, catapulted The Barber of Seville into the popular lexicon.
Magical Maestroballet dancer, Indian, tennis player, prisoner rock-breaker and football player.
One Froggy EveningHello! Ma Baby and I’m Just Wild About Harry, two Tin Pan Alley classics, and Largo al Factotum from The Barber of Seville. In the Chuck Jones biography “Extremes & Inbetweens: A Life In Animation”, Steven Spielberg called One Froggy Evening “the Citizen Kane of animated film.”
The Cat Above and the Mouse Below
Over the years, animation studios have introduced generations of children to opera in general and Rossini’s The Barber of Seville in particular. Besides the cartoons mentioned here, many others have used portions of the aria Largo al Factotum, including Rhapsody Rabbit, Long-Haired Hare, You Ought To Be In Pictures, Notes To You and Back Alley Oproar.
It’s no wonder so many people, when asked to sing an opera tune, immediately launch into “Figaro, Figaro, Figaro, Fi-i-i-igaro-o-o-o!”
Don’t miss your opportunity to see The Barber of Seville in concert with the Santa Cruz Symphony on Nov. 5 & 6, featuring soloists from the New York Metropolitan Opera. Information at santacruzsymphony.org. Tickets at santacruztickets.com. Use coupon code LocalSC when you order tickets and receive 10 Santa Cruz Symphony mustache stickers.
The Santa Cruz Symphony will be presenting The Barber of Seville November 5th and 6th.
Use coupon code LocalSC when you order tickets and receive 10 Santa Cruz Symphony mustache stickers.