It was all action in those days – blood on the strings:
Luigi Zamboni, for whom Rossini wrote the role of Figaro had urged Rossini and Francesco Sforza-Cesarini, the cash-strapped impresario of the Teatro Argentina, to engage his sister-in-law, Elisabetta Gafforini, as Rosina. However, her fee was too high and in the end they settled on Geltrude Righetti.
The premiere of Rossini’s opera at the Teatro Argentina in Rome (20 February 1816) was a disaster: the audience hissed and jeered throughout, and several on-stage accidents occurred.
Furthermore, many of the audience were supporters of one of Rossini’s rivals, the veteran Giovanni Paisiello, who played on mob mentality to provoke the rest of the audience to dislike the opera. Paisiello had already composed The Barber of Seville and took Rossini’s new version to be an affront to his version.
Once after Patti had sung a particularly florid rendition of the opera’s legitimate aria, ‘Una voce poco fa’, Rossini is reported to have asked her: “Very nice, my dear, and who wrote the piece you have just performed?”
Oh yeah. 😀