Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/181

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.


��ROSSINI.

�� �� ��Ricciardo/and other operas, hitherto unheard in Venice, attached to a libretto imitated from Scribe. Fortunately the opera pleased the audience, and sent Rossini back to Naples in good spirits, ready to compose a new cantata for the visit of the Emperor of Austria. The new work was performed on May 9, 1819, at ^e San Carlo, and was sung by Colbran, Da vide, and Rubini, to the accompaniment of a military band. This Rossini probably accepted as a useful experience for his next new opera, the 4 Donna del Lago,' in the march of which we hear the results of his experiments in writing for a wind band. The title of the new work seems to show that Scott's works were becoming popular even in Italy. 1 Rossini at any rate was not insensible to their beauties ; and in his allusions to the land- scape of the lake, and the cavatina ' mattutini albori ' seems to invite attention to bis use of local colour. Even at the present day the first act of the opera is well worthy of admiration, and yet the evening of Monday, Oct. 4, 1819, when it was first given, with the magnificent cast of Colbran, Pisaroni, Nozzari, Da vide, and Benedetti, was simply one long torture of disappointment to the composer, who was possibly not aware that the storm of disapprobation was directed not against him so much as against Barbaja the manager, and Colbran his favourite. Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas.

On the following evening the hisses became bravos, but of this Rossini knew nothing, as by that time he was on his road to Milan. The Scala opened on Dec. 26, 1819, for the Carnival season with ' Bianca e Faliero,' libretto by Ro- mani, which was admirably sung by Camporesi and others. No trace of it, however, now re- mains except the fine duet and equally good quartet, which were afterwards introduced in the Donna del Lago,' and became very popular at concerts.

His engagement at Milan over, he hurried back to Naples, to produce the opera of 'Maometto secondo,' before the close of the Carnival. It had been composed in great haste, but was admirably interpreted by Colbran, Chaumel (afterwards Madame Rubini), Nozzari, Cicimarra, Benedetti, and F. Galli, whose Maometto was a splendid success. It was the last opera but one that Rossini was destined to give at Naples before the burst of the storm 2 of the 2oth July, 1820, which obliged the King to abandon his capital, ruined Barbaja by depriving him at once of a powerful patron and of the monopoly of the gambling -houses, and drove Rossini to make important changes in his life. But to return. Having for the moment no engagement for the Scala, he undertook to write 'Mathilde di 3 Shabran ' for Rome. Torlonia the banker had bought the Teatro Tordinone, and was con- verting it into the Apollo; and it was for the inauguration of this splendid new house that Rossini's opera was intended. The opening took

��HMHMUU O U

,..

aBevol

...

��' The Lady of the Lake' was published ID 1810.

  • Bevolt of the Carbonari, under Pepe.
  • So written, though pronounced Sabran by the ItaUaus.

��ROSSINI. 16

place on the first night of the Carnival of 1821. The company, though large, contained no first- rate artists, and Rossini was therefore especially careful of the ensemble pieces. The first night was stormy, but Rossini's friends were in the ascendancy, Paganini conducted in splendid style, and the result was a distinct success.

On his return to Naples, Rossini learned from Barbaja his intention of visiting Austria, and taking his company of singers to Vienna. Rossini's next opera, ' Zelmira,' was therefore to be submitted to a more critical audience than those of Italy, and with this in view he applied himself to make the recitatives interesting, the harmonies full and varied, and the accompaniments expres- sive and full of colour, and to throw as much variety as possible into the form of the move- ments. He produced the opera at the San Carlo before leaving, in the middle of December 1821. It was sung by Colbran, Cecconi, Da vide, Nozzari, Ambrosi and Benedetti, and was enthusiastically received. On the 27th of the same month, he took his benefit, for which he had composed a special cantata entitled ' La Riconoscenza ' ; and the day after left for the North. He was accompanied by Isabella Colbran, with whom he had been in love for years, whose influence over him had been so great as to make him forsake comedy for tragedy, and to whom he was married on his arrival at Bologna. The wedding took place in the chapel of the Archbishop's palace, and was celebrated by Cardinal Opizzoni. Rossini has been accused of marrying for money, and it is certain that Colbran had a villa and 500 a year of her own, that she was seven years older than her husband, and that her reputation as a singer was on the decline.

However this may be, the two Rossinis, after a month's holiday, started for Vienna, where they arrived about the end of February, 1822. He seems to have made his deljut before the Vienna public on the 3oth of March, as the conductor of his 'Cenerentola,' in the German version, as 'Aschenbrodel,' and his tempi were found some- what too fast for the ' heavy German language.* ' Zelmira ' was given at the Karnthnerthor opera- house on April 13, with a success equal to that which it obtained at Naples. The company was the same, excepting Cecconi and Benedetti, who were replaced by Mile. Ekerlin and Botticelli. An air was added for the former to words fur- nished by Carpani, who was thus secured as an enthusiastic partisan of the Italian composer. Rossini was not without violent opponents in Vienna, but they gave him no anxiety, friends and enemies alike were received with a smile, and his only retort was a good-humoured joke. He is said to have visited Beethoven, and to have been much distressed by the condition in which he found the great master. The impression which he made on the Viennese may be gathered from a paragraph in the Leipzig ' AUgemeine musik. Zeitung'* of the day, in which he is described as ' highly accomplished, of agreeable manners and pleasant appearance, full of wit and fun, cheerful, obliging, courteous, and most accessible. He is 1822, reporting the early part of March.

�� �