Ornamenting Rossini

in Divas and Scholars

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print September 2006 | ISBN: 9780226304823
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226304885 | DOI:
Ornamenting Rossini

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In the late nineteenth century, the few early nineteenth-century Italian operas remaining in the repertory were routinely reorchestrated to render their sound more similar to operas being composed at that time: Rossini's characteristic use of the piccolo as a solo instrument was ruthlessly suppressed in favor of a flute and trombone, and tuba parts, as well as elaborate percussion, were added to the operas with lighter scorings. Rossini loved inserting notes to himself, and to posterity, in his autograph manuscripts. Rossini's manuscripts of complete operas are filled with not only fermatas and instructions, but also more than thirty separate manuscripts in the composer's hand survive in which he wrote out variations and cadenzas. According to a frequently repeated anecdote, Rossini objected to the freedom with which singers ornamented his music. Having suffered through the elaborate embellishments introduced by the last great castrato, Giambattista Velluti, at the 1813 premiere at the Teatro alla Scala of Rossini's Aureliano in Palmira, the composer vowed to write all vocal lines exactly as Rossini wished them sung.

Keywords: Rossini; piccolo; embellishments; manuscripts; composer; cadenzas

Chapter.  14875 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Opera

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