Among Rossini's operas Adina has perhaps the most mysterious origins. Commissioned by an unknown Portuguese admirer as a gift for an unknown soprano, composed in 1818 yet not performed until 1826, the opera develops the popular theme of the "abduction from the serraglio." Rossini, pressed by the contract to complete the work quickly, composed anew only four of the work's nine numbers: the Introduction, the disarming Cavatina Adina "Fragolette fortunate" (Lucky little strawberries), the Quartet, and the Finale; for three others he turned to his own Sigismondo of 1814; the remaining two were written by a collaborator.
The critical edition, the first publication in full score, draws on the autograph of Sigismondo and Rossini's drafts for setting the new texts as well as the autograph of Adina. In his preface discussing Adina's uncertain genesis and successive history, Fabrizio Della Seta examines the documents extant in Portugal and Italy and considers hypotheses about the identity of the commissioner, the dedicatee, and the collaborator.
During the last decade of his life Rossini wrote numerous vocal and instrumental pieces which, with his usual irony, he entitled Pèchés de vieillesse. He then organized them in various albums that reflect neither the date of composition (very often not indicated) nor the performing medium. Two of these collections are published in the present volume: Album français and Morceaux réservés. For the most part they consist of pieces intended for performance in the composer's drawing room by one or more solo voices with piano accompaniment, but there are also choral movements. Some items have never heretofore unknown versions which are issued here for the first time.
Rossini's third opera seria for Naples, Armida, first performed November 9, 1817 and among his most unusual and beautiful stage works, is based on Tasso's epic poem Gerusalemme liberata. From the performer playing Armida, Rossini demands singing of both spectacular virtuosity and great dramatic power. Some of his most sensual music occurs in Armida's duets, two of which feature prominent introductions for solo violin and solo violoncello. Included in the large cast are six tenor roles (although they can be taken by four tenors, as they were at Naples). A highlight of Act III is the stirring trio for three tenors. Armida also requires two basses and gives conspicuous parts to men's and women's choruses. Unique among Rossini's Italian operas is a large ballet, which occupies much of Act II, and the magical scenic effects called for in the staging.
The critical edition presents Armida in its original form, reintegrating passages missing from the autograph score and restoring cuts made in printed editions.
In 1819, a watershed year in the Milanese debates between "classicism" and "romanticism," Rossini prepared Bianca e Falliero, o sia Il consiglio dei Tre (Bianca and Falliero, or The Council of Three) for La Scala, where his opere serie had never fared well. Working with a confirmed "classicist" librettist, he created a traditionally structured bel canto tour-de-force that ran for thirty-nine performances—still a record for his serious operas at La Scala.
Heavily butchered in later productions, Bianca e Falliero soon disappeared from the stage, but its finest pieces remained in concert repertory for half a century. The critical edition—the first publication of the full score—restores the original Milan version. An appendix offers Rossini's vocal variants for the two lead roles.
This brilliant cantata was first performed on January 1, 1847 as part of a day of grand festivities honoring the recently elected Pius IX, who was widely welcomed in Europe as a reforming pope. Not heard again until it was revived in 1992 to great acclaim, the Cantata calls for large performing forces including four solo singers (STTB), mixed chorus with solo voices, full orchestra with serpentone, and stage band.
Rossini, in poor health at the time, had only reluctantly accepted the commission to compose the Cantata. To facilitate the task he based five of the movements on pieces from his Neapolitan operas Armida (1817) and Ricciardo e Zoraide (1818), and the Parisian opera Le Siège de Corinthe (1826). These he modified and joined together with newly-composed recitatives, the whole set to a new libretto by Count Giovanni Marchetti. A spectacular work in its own right, the Cantata in onore del Sommo Pontefice Pio IX also provides an illuminating example of Rossini's recompositional practices in adapting previous compositions to new contexts.
Ermione is one of the extraordinary serious operas that Rossini composed while artistic director of the royal theaters of Naples. Although it was not originally successful, Rossini treasured Ermione as his "little William Tell." Its revival at the Rossini Opera Festival's production in 1987—the first since the original staging in 1819—revealed its beauty to modern audiences and has spurred many additional performances.
This critical edition is the first publication of Ermione in full score.
The originality and power of Rossini's score lie in the musical realization of the four principal characters in Tottola's libretto—four survivors of the Trojan war—based on Racine's tragedy Andromaque. Rossini's Ermione was one of the most fully developed characters in nineteenth-century opera. The work's musical structure also was unconventional for its day. All the solo numbers involve other characters, and there is only one scene for a single protagonist.
Rossini composed his last Italian opera to celebrate the coronation of the French king Charles X in 1825. A virtuoso tour de force, it was conceived for the greatest voices of the time and calls for an exceptional cast of fourteen soloists: three prima donna sopranos, an alto, two tenors, four baritones, and four basses. One of the score's glories is the audacious "Gran Pezzo Concertato" for the fourteen soloists. In the Finale national toasts derived from patriotic songs set the driving music awhirl.
Rossini permitted only four performances of Viaggio, later reusing half the score for Le Comte Ory. The manuscript sources were presumed lost until part of the autograph was recovered in the 1970s at the Rome Conservatory, while other sources were found in Paris (including original performing parts) and Vienna. The identification of a missing chorus completed the restoration of this magnificent work to the repertory.
Along with the reconstructed score, the critical edition provides historical information about the libretto's relationship to French politics of the era and details on the first production.
La Cenerentola (Cinderella) is a masterpiece significantly different from Rossini's earlier comic operas. Deftly combining aspects of several genres, Rossini plays off comic characters in the great Italian tradition—Don Magnifico (Cinderella's stepfather) and the valet Dandini—against the sentimental principal roles of Cinderella and the Prince. For his heroine Rossini not only adapts the popular semiseria genre, but also exploits the coloratura style of opera seria, as she is transformed into a princess not by magic but by love and her own innate goodness.
For the hastily-prepared premiere of La Cenerentola in Rome in 1817 a collaborator wrote the simple recitatives, a chorus, and arias for Alidoro (the Prince's tutor) and Clorinda (a stepsister). The chorus was soon dropped, and in 1821 Rossini wrote a new aria for Alidoro. This critical edition provides all the music for the first version, including variants for Clorinda. Appendixes include Rossini's own aria for Alidoro and his variations for Cinderella's final Rondo.
The libretto for La gazzetta, written by Giuseppe Palomba, was based on a play by Carlo Goldoni entitled Il matrimonio per concorso. Rossini drew a two-act comic opera from this libretto chiefly by recycling old music, a fact that has weighed heavily in critical reaction to the work. But as this edition reveals, this view is misleading. Rossini himself wrote each borrowed piece or section anew in its entirety by significantly modifying details, changing vocal lines throughout, and introducing numerous orchestral modifications. The resulting opera—first performed on September 26, 1816, at the Teatro dei Fiorentini in Naples—is delightful, with Goldoni's wonderful structure and characters given superb musical life by Rossini. This critical edition, edited by Fabrizio Scipioni, presents the full score in two volumes, along with a separate volume of insightful commentary.
Gioachino Rossini's Mosè in Egitto is an opera that emerged from the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Italian tradition of oratorios written to be performed during Lent. The three-act opera draws from the Biblical book of Exodus to chronicle the story of Moses liberating the Israelites from Pharaoh's rule and guiding them out of Egypt. The librettist, Andrea Leone Tottola, also borrowed from an eighteenth-century drama to add a love affair between Pharaoh's son and an Israelite girl that motivates Pharaoh's final, fatal refusal in the opera to free the Israelites.
This critical edition presents the version performed in 1820 after Rossini had revised the unsuccessful and now lost third act of 1818. The edition includes an appendix with the original aria for Pharaoh written by Michele Carafa, which was performed throughout the nineteenth century even after Rossini replaced it with one of his own. Also featured are vocal ornamentation used in Paris performances and detailed information on the Paris productions between 1822 and 1840. This comprehensive critical edition provides a reliable source for interpretation and study of a work that Rossini called "sublime."
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.
Rossini's Otello, first performed in 1816, remained an immensely popular opera throughout the nineteenth century and was only eclipsed by Verdi's more Shakespearean version. The critical edition by Michael Collins allows us to rediscover Rossini's Otello as one of the composer's early masterpieces in the tragic genre.
The first of eight serious operas newly-written for the Teatro San Carlo of Naples, Otello reveals Rossini as a composer deeply concerned with both character development and large-scale musical forms. Desdemona's "Willow Song" is a fine example: here not only is variation technique used for dramatic ends, but the song itself forms part of a larger scheme that encompasses the entire third act as a single, unified piece.
Far more than a mere forerunner to Verdi, Rossini's Otello deserves to be known for its own innovative qualities.
Semiramide brought Rossini's Italian career to a spectacular close in 1823. Its key scenes have great musical and dramatic impact, and in its expansive dimensions he attains masterful heights. Yet Semiramide remains true to neoclassical archetypes of style and form, with its preponderance of arias and duets. Proving gratifying to generations of fine singers, it was one of Rossini's last opere serie to disappear from the repertory and the first to be revived. Today it remains his most frequently performed Italian heroic opera. This critical edition is based on the autograph score, including the spartitino (for the wind and percussion instruments in large ensembles) recently discovered in the archives of Venice's La Fenice. More than a dozen contemporary manuscript copies and numerous early printed vocal scores were also consulted. An appendix includes Gossett's edition of Rossini's sketches for several numbers. Following the main score in three volumes, a fourth volume provides the original realization for the on-stage band.
The four overtures in this volume display Rossini's extraordinary talent at the threshold of his career. Composed before his eighteenth birthday, they show him developing orchestral skills that served him throughout his life. The Sinfonia del Conventello and the Sinfonia obbligata a contrabbasso were written for performance at "Il Conventello," the estate of his patron Agostino Triossi, and feature the cello and double bass. The Sinfonia in D and the Sinfonia in E-flat were composed at the Liceo Filarmonico in Bologna, where Rossini was a student from 1806 to 1809. Their public performances showed them to be much more than classroom exercises, and Rossini later reworked the E-flat overture for his opera La cambiale di matrimonio.
None of these overtures survives in Rossini's hand. (In his late years, Rossini confided that he had left a number of "little things" with Triossi, who had probably used them "to wrap salami.") The critical edition has recovered the first two from recently identified manuscript copies, the others from incomplete sets of parts.
These three festive cantatas were composed for celebrations at the Neapolitan court of King Ferdinand IV between 1816 and 1819: Giunone (poetry by Angelo Maria Ricci) for the king's birthday, Omaggio umiliato a Sua Maestà (poetry by Antonio Niccolini) for his recovery from serious illness, and Cantata per Francesco I, Imperatore di Austria (poetry by Giulio Genoino) for an imperial visit. Calling for all the forces of the royal opera theater, these occasions exploited fine solo singers, large orchestra and mixed chorus, and dancers. Although the cantatas share the stylistic splendor of Rossini's operas from this period (among them Il barbiere di Siviglia,La Cenerentola, and Armida), they are ideal for concert performance because they are shorter and require only one, two, or three soloists.
This volume makes conveniently available the chorus and ballet music shared by the two later cantatas, present in only one of the autographs. A block of missing music has been reconstructed and the entire number adapted by the editors according to Rossini's written instructions in the manuscripts.