Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/177

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��know enough to write operas?' 'Certainly,' was the reply. 'Then I want nothing more, for operas are all that I desire to write.' There was in this something of the practical wisdom which distinguished the Rossini of later life. Meantime it was necessary that he and his parents should live, and he therefore dropped counterpoint and returned to his old trade of accompanyist, gave lessons, and conducted per- formances of chamber music. He was even bold enough to lead an orchestra, and took the direction of the ' Accademia dei Concordi 'in other words, of the Philharmonic Society of Bo- logna. There is no reason to doubt that it was more by scoring the quartets and symphonies of Haydn and Mozart than by any lessons of Padre Mattei's that Rossini learned the secrets and the magic of the orchestra. His fame at the Liceo increased day by day, and at the end of his first year his cantata 'II Pianto d'armonia per la morte d'Orfeo ' the lament of Harmony over the death of Orpheus was not only rewarded with the prize, but was performed in public, Aug. 8, 1808. He was then in his seventeenth year. The cantata was followed not by a symphony, as is sometimes said, but by an overture in the fugued style, in imitation of that to Mozart's 'Magic Flute,' but so weak, that after hearing it played he lost no time in destroying it. The same fate probably attended some pieces for double bass and strings, and a mass, both written at the instance of Signor Triossi of Ravenna, a distinguished amateur of the double bass. Rossini had hitherto been known at Bologna as ' il Tedeschino ' ' the little German ' for his devotion to Mozart ; but such serious efforts as composing a mass, and conducting a work like Haydn's Seasons at the Philharmonic Society, were probably intended as hints that he wished to be looked upon no longer as a scholar, but as a master waiting his opportunity for the stage.

It may be easier to enter on a career in Italy than elsewhere, but even there it is not without its difficulties. Rossini by his wit and gaiety had, in one of his tourne"es, made a friend of the Marquis Cavalli, who had promised him his interest whenever it should be wanted. The time was now come to claim the fulfilment of the promise, and Rossini's delight may be imagined when he received an invitation to compose an opera, from the manager of the San Mose Theatre, at Venice. He hastened to prepare the piece, and ' La Cambiale di Matrimonio ' or the ' Ma- trimonial Market' was produced there in the autumn of 1810. The piece was an opera buffa in one act ; it was supported by Morandi, Ricci, De Grecis, and Raffanelli, and had a most en- couraging reception. After this feat he returned to Bologna, and there composed for Esther Mom- belli's benefit a cantata called 'Didone abban- donata.' In 1811 he wrote for the Teatro del Corso of Bologna an opera buffa in two acts, 'L'Equivoco stravagante,' which closed the season with success, and in which both he and Marcolini the contralto were highly applauded.

1812 was Rossini's twentieth year, and with

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��it begins what may be called his Epoch of Im- provisation. Early in that year he produced, at the San Mose Theatre, Venice, two buffa operas 'L'Inganno felice, 1 and 'L'occasione fa il Ladro, ossia il Cambio della valigia.' The first of these, a Farsa, a trifle in one act, was well aung and much applauded, espe- cially an air of Galli's, ' Una voce,' a duet for the two basses, and a trio full of force and original melody. After the Carnival he went to Ferrara, and there composed an Oratorio, 'Giro in Babilonia,' which was brought out during Lent, and proved a fiasco. So did 'La Scala di Seta,' an opera buffa in one act, pro- duced at Venice in the course of the spring ; but on the other hand, ' Demetrio e Polibio,' brought out at the Teatro Valle, Rome, by his old friends the Mombellis, was well received. The piece was not improbably the same that we have men- tioned his writing at the age of fifteen to words by Mme. Mombelli, retouched according to his new lights. At any rate a quartet among its contents was at once pronounced a masterpiece, and a duet, ' Questo cor,' which followed it, pro- duced an excellent effect. Rossini however did not waste time in listening to applause. While the Mombellis were engaged on this serious opera, he flew off to Milan to fulfil an engage- ment which Marcolini had procured for him, by writing, for her, Galli, Bonoldi, and Parlamagni, a comic piece in two acts called ' La Pietra del Paragone,' which was produced at the Scala during the autumn of 181 2, with immense success. It was his first appearance at this renowned house, and the piece is underlined in the list as ' musica nuova di Gioachino Rossini, di Pesaro.' The numbers most applauded were a cavatina, ' Ecco pietosa,' a quartet in the second act, the duel-trio, and a finale in which the word ' Sigil- lara ' recurs continually with very comic effect. This finale is memorable as the first occasion of his employing the crescendo, which he was ulti- mately to use and abuse so copiously. Mosca has accused Rossini of having borrowed this famous effect from his 'Pretendenti delusi,' pro- duced at the Scala the preceding autumn, for- getting that Mosca himself had learned it from Generali and other composers. Such accusa- tions, however, were of little or no importance to Rossini, who had already made up his mind to adopt whatever pleased him, wheresoever he might find it. In the meantime he took ad- vantage of his success to pass a few days at Bologna with his parents, en route for Venice ; and thus ended the year 1812, in which he had produced no less than six pieces for the theatre.

Nor was 1813 less prolific. It began with a terrible mystification. He had accepted a com- mission of 500 francs for a serious opera for the Grand Theatre at Venice, but the manager of San Mose, furious at his desertion, in pursuance of some former agreement, forced on him a libretto for that theatre, 'I due Bruschini, o il figlio per azzardo,' which, if treated as intended, would inevitably have been the death of the music. From this dilemma Rossini ingeniously

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