MUHI 2323 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Gioachino Rossini, Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, Johann Gottfried Herder

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Late Baroque Notes: Early Romantic Period
Friday, February 26, 2016
The dialectical antithesis to Beethoven: Gioacchino Rossini (1792-1868)
Rossinis career
o Born 29 February 1792 into a family in the music business
o Composing operas at age 18
o First big success at age 21
o Wrote a total of 38 operas
o 1815: wrote operas for Naples, mostly serious
o 1822: wrote operas for houses all over Europe, especially Paris
o 1829: retired after his greatest success, the grand opera Guillaume Tell (William Tell--
based on play by Schiller)
o 1868: died after almost 40 years of retirement
(Beethoven would never have retired!)
o Learn by doing, born into a family of musicians, self-taught
Both Beethoven and Rossini did not go to music school
The 19th century Italian opera industry
o More like Broadway musicals than operas today:
Singers the most important, could make changes to suit them
Suitcase arias, arias singers put into shows for fans
shows reworked, rearranged for different occasions, locations
Relies heavily on formulas
Were put together quickly
As opposite of Beethoven
o The Rossini Craze
1820s all over Europe, non-political escapism
German nationalism: Germans were powerless over Rossini, his operas were
even sung in German
Beethoven is not escapist entertainment; is serious
o Always demanding of his audience
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o The Code Rossini
Finding a winning formula and sticking with it: Good because it's the same
Beethoven is always looking to improve or tinker with his formula
Overture
slow introduction
2 themes in exposition
o First theme
o Second theme: always wind solo
Crescendo, no development, abbreviated recapitulation
o The Rossini Crescendo-Large build up spanned over an entire section sometimes to make
for a dramatic ending, what the audience most waited for because it was so common
Ex. Una voce poco fa
Il Barbiere di Siviligia (1816)
o Stock characters who go back to La Serva Padrona (feisty girl who outwits her guardian)
o Based on play by Beaumarchais (author of The Marriage of Figaro)
The Barber is the Figaro who gets married in the next play
o Took about 8 weeks to be composed, copied, designed, rehearsed, 3 weeks of that in
composition
Overture had been already used twice
The Barber of Seville, Act 1
o Rosinas Cavatina
Una voce poco fa
Cavatina is the characters first aria in the opera (entrance aria, the most important)
2 part structure: First part Cantabile, second part called Cabaletta
Act ): Don Basilio, La calunnia
o Aria contains the apotheosis of the Rossini crescendo
o Calumny is a little breeze, a gentle zephyr, which insensibly, lightly, subtly and sweetly,
commences to whisper. Softly, softly, here and there, sotto voce, sibilant, it goes gliding, it
goes rambling, in the ears of the people; it penetrates slyly, and the head and the brains it
stuns and it swells. From the mouth re-emerging, the noise grows crescendo, etc.
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Monday, February 29, 2016
Italian Opera after Rossini
o Vincenzo Bellini (1801-35)
o Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1848)
Bel Canto Opera
o (ard to define; means fine singing, especially Bellini and Donizetti
o Rossinis remark in  that it was a lost tradition:
Requires a voice type such as the castrato
Requires the technique of studying ornaments, scales, arpeggios and trills
Requires imitating and acquiring the style and traditions of great singers
o Giovanni Battista Rubini (1794- king of tenors
Sang in operas by Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti
Especially Bellini
Very high range (head voice) but more robust sound than the typical Rossini tenor
More manly voice, therefore bel canto became a lighter form
Vincenzo Bellini (1801-1835)
o Serious about words-music relationship
Librettist Felice Romani
Precise declamation, verbal and musical accents coincide, not so much
ornamentation
o Famous for long, long, long melodies-->breath control
o Most famous opera: Norma
Premiered at La Scala opera house in Milan, Italy, 1831
Very difficult, requires a special soprano
The role of Norma created by Guiditta Pasta, most famous for this role
Historical plot: takes place in Gaul, 50 BC, Druids versus the Romans
Casta Diva from Norma
o Normas Cavatina entrance aria
o Based on the 2-part aria form standardized by Rossini, expanded into 4 parts
1. Scena (setting up scene, often parlante)
Parlante = speech/song
2. Cantabile (static, often 2 stanzas)
3. Tempo di mezzo (action, creates different situation, often parlante)
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