Gioachino Rossini


Born: Feb 29, 1792; Italy   Died: Nov 13, 1868; France   Period: Romantic
Gioachino Rossini's parents were both working musicians. His father played the horn and taught at the prestigious Accademia Filharmonica in Bologna, and his mother, although not formally trained, was a soprano. Rossini was taught and encouraged at home until he eventually enrolled at the Liceo Musicale in Bologna. After graduation from that institution, the young musician was commissioned by the Venetian Teatro San Moise to compose La cambiale di Read more matrimonio, a comedy in one act. In 1812, Rossini wrote La pietra del paragone, for La Scala theater in Milan and was already, at the tender age of 20, Italy's most prominent composer.
In 1815, Rossini accepted a contract to work for the theaters in Naples, where he would remain until 1822, composing prolifically in comfort. He composed 19 operas during this tenure, focusing his attention on opera seria and creating one of his most famous serious works, Otello, for the Teatro San Carlos. While he served in this capacity, Rossini met and courted Isabella Colbran, a local soprano whom he would eventually marry. Other cities, too, clamored for Rossini's works, and it was for Roman audiences that he composed the sparkling comedies Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville, 1816) and La cenerentola (Cinderella, 1817).
In 1822, Rossini left Naples and embarked on a European tour. The Italian musician was received enthusiastically to say the least, and enjoyed fame and acclaim everywhere. Even Beethoven, at the opposite stylistic pole in the musical scene of the day, praised him. The following year, Rossini was commissioned to write Semiramide, a serious opera, for La Fenice, a theater in Venice. This work was less successful in its own day than some of his previous efforts, but spawned several arias that remain part of any vocalist's songbook. In 1824, Rossini traveled, via London, to Paris where he would live for five years and serve as the music director at the Théâtre Italien from 1824 to 1826. The composer gained commissions from other opera houses in France, including the Paris Opéra. Rossini composed his final opera, Guillaume Tell (1829), before retiring from composition in that genre at the age of 37. Its overture is not only a concert favorite but an unmistakable reflection and continuation of Beethoven's heroic ideal. The catalog of work Rossini had written at the time of his retirement included 32 operas, two symphonies, numerous cantatas, and a handful of oratorios and chamber music pieces. After moving back to Italy, Rossini became a widower in 1845. His marriage to Isabella Colbran had not been particularly happy, and shortly after her death, the composer married Olympe Pelissier, a woman who had been his mistress.
In 1855, Rossini, along with his new bride, moved once again, this time settling in Passy, a suburb of Paris. He spent the remaining years of his life writing sacred music as well as delectable miniatures for both piano and voice (some of which he called "sins of my old age"). He was revered from the time he was a teenager until his death. Rossini was buried in Paris' Pčre Lachaise cemetery in proximity to the graves of Vincenzo Bellini, Luigi Cherubini, and Frédéric Chopin. In 1887, Rossini's grave was transferred from Paris to Santa Croce, in Florence, in a ceremony attended by more than 6,000 admirers.
Rossini's chief legacy remains his extraordinary contribution to the operatic repertoire. His comedic masterpieces, including L'Italiana in Algeri, La gazza ladra, and perhaps his most famous work, Il barbiere di Siviglia, are regarded as cornerstones of the genre along with works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Giuseppe Verdi. Read less
Rossini: Semiramide / Elder, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
Release Date: 09/28/2018   Label: Opera Rara  
Catalog: 80057  
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Rossini: Guillaume Tell / Gardelli, Caballe, Mesple, Taillon, Bacquier
Release Date: 11/09/2010   Label: Warner Classics  
Catalog: 40763   Number of Discs: 4
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Rossini: William Tell / Pappano, Finley, Osborn, Rose, Caton, Cigni
Release Date: 08/09/2011   Label: Warner Classics  
Catalog: 0288262   Number of Discs: 3
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Prayers - Ravel, Mozart, Rossini, Gounod, Et Al / Sumi Jo
Release Date: 03/20/2001   Label: Erato  
Catalog: 85772   Number of Discs: 1
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The Best Of Rossini
Release Date: 04/14/1992   Label: Emi Classics  
Catalog: 67440   Number of Discs: 2
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Work: La gazza ladra: Overture


About This Work
The overture to La gazza ladra (The Magpie Thief, 1817) is a staple of the curtain-raiser slot in symphonic concerts. It is chock-full of the colorful orchestral strokes that populate the whole group of Rossini overtures, beginning a pair of side Read more drum rolls at the very start that add military color and are just long enough to seem a bit ominous. They introduce an opera, designated a melodramma, that shades comic elements with darker overtones; the plot deals with a servant girl accused of stealing some silverware with which the magpie of the title has actually absconded for its nest. Seemingly lightweight, the opera was rooted in a true story in which a young woman was actually put to death for the bird's "crime," a story that Rossini's audience would have known well.

Indeed the overture itself neatly melds episodic color with the weightier drama of symphonic sonata form. It features a parade of effects and lovely themes, including an especially famous one introduced by an oboe, that anticipate the characters and action to come, and then, following a spectacular crescendo, reworks several of these themes in a mini-development section. The La gazza ladra overture is atypical in its thematic links to the opera to follow; Rossini, one of music's great adherents of the reuse-and-recycle school, often made the same overture do service for two (or even more) operas at this early stage in his career. The special care he took with this one shows not just in the links between overture and staged scenes, but in the vividness and excitement of the whole.

-- All Music Guide Read less

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