During the last years of his life, Rossini gathered his numerous vocal and piano pieces into fourteen unpublished albums, which he called Pèchès de vieillesse ("sins of my old age"). In 1857 he presented Musique anodine, a Prélude and six songs, to his wife Olimpe, in gratitude for her care during his long illness. This was the thirteenth album in the series. The first was Album italiano, a dozen pieces for one, two, or four voices with piano. Among the best known of these pieces is "La regata veneziana," three canzonettas for mezzo-soprano in Venetian dialect, in which the heroine encourages her racing gondolier. Another song, "Le gittane," has never before been published with its Italian text.
Based on the composer's own manuscripts, this critical edition restores Rossini's expressively precise musical notation. Appendixes contain earlier versions of six songs, some with different texts from the final versions.