Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/183

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�� ��ROSSINI.

musical direction of the Thdatre Italian, Paris, for eighteen months at a salary of 800 per annum. In order to be near his work he took a lodging at No. 28 Rue Taitbout, and at once set about making a radical reform in the ages of the singers in his company. Knowing that Paer was his enemy, and would take any opportunity of injuring him, he was careful to retain him in his old post of maestro al Cembalo ; but at the same time he engaged Harold (then a young man of 25) as chorus-master, and as a check on the pretensions of Madame Pasta he brought to Paris Esther Mombelli, Schiassetti, Donzelli, and Rubini, successively. To those who sneered at his music he replied by playing it as it was written, and by bringing out some of his operas which had not yet made their appearance in Paris, such as 'La Donna del Lago' (Sept. 7, 1824), 'Semiramide' (Dec. 8, 1825), and 'Zel- mira' (Mar. 14, 1826). And he gave much e"clat to his direction by introducing Meyerbeer's ' Crociato ' the first work of Meyerbeer's heard in Paris and by composing a new opera, 'II Viaggio a Reims, ossia 1'Albergo del giglio d'oro,' which he produced on June 19, 1825, during the fetes at the coronation of Charles X. The new work is in one act, and three parts ; it is written for 14 voices, which are treated with marvellous art. It was sung by Mmes. Pasta, Schiassetti, Mombelli, Cinti, Amigo, Dotti, and Rossi ; and by MM. Levasseur, Zucchelli, Pellegrini, Graziani, Auletta, Donzelli, Bordogni, and Scudo a truly magnificent assemblage. In the ballet he introduced an air with variations for two clarinets, borrowed from hia Naples cantata of 1819, and played by Gambaro (a passionate admirer of his) and by F. Berr. In the hunt- ing scene he brought in a delicious fanfare of horns, and the piece winds up with 'God save the King,' 'Vive Henri quatre,' and other national airs, all newly harmonised and accom-

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��The King's taste was more in the direction of hunting than of music, and the result was that the ' Viaggio ' was only given two or three times ; but it had been a work of love with Rossini, and we shall presently see how much he valued it. Meantime we may mention that after the Revolu- tion of 1 848 the words were suitably modified by H. Dupin, and the piece appeared in two acts at the Theatre Italien as 'Andremo noi a Parigi,' on Oct. 26 of that year. 1

After the expiration of Rossini's agreement as director of the Theatre Italien, it was a happy idea of the Intendant of the Civil List to confer upon him the sinecure posts of ' Premier Composi- teur du Roi ' and ' Inspecteur Ge'ne'ral du Chant en France,' with an annual income of 20,000 francs, possibly in the hope that he might settle permanently at Paris, and in time write operas expressly for the French stage. This was also an act of justice, since in the then absence of any

��i The score of ' Andremo nol a Parigi ' Is In the Library of the Con- servatoire, but the finale of the ' Viaggio,' which we have mentioned as containing national airs, is not there, and this curious feat has probably vanished for ever.

��law of international 2 copyright his pieces were public property, and at the disposal not only of a translator like Castil-Blaze, but of any manager or publisher in the length and breadth of France who chose to avail himself of them. Fortunately the step was justified by the event. The opera of ' Maometto' originally written by the Duke of Ventagnano, and produced at Naples in 1820 had never been heard in France. Ros- sini employed MM. Soumet and Balocchi to give the libretto a French dress ; he revised the music, and considerably extended it; and on Oct. 9, 1826, the opera was produced at the Acad&nie as ' Le Sie'ge de Corinthe,' with a cast which included Nourrit and Mile. Cinti, and with great success. The new opera (for which Rossini received 6,000 francs from Troupenas) was written at No. 10, Boulevard Montmartre, a five-storied house which contained the residences of Boieldieu and Carafa, and was the birthplace of 'La Dame Blanche,' ' Masaniello,' and 'Guillaume Tell.' It has since been destroyed in constructing the Passage Jouffroy.

After this feat Rossini turned to another of hia earlier works, as not only sure of success but eminently suited to the vast space and splendid mise en sc&ne of the Grand Opera. This was ' Mose.' He put the revision of the libretto into the hands of Etienne Jouy and Balocchi, and settled the cast as follows : Anal, Mile. Cinti with a new air (4th act); Sinaide, Mme. Dabadie; Marie, Mile. Mori; Ame"nophis, A. Nourrit; Moise, Levasseur; Pharaon, Dabadie; Eliezer, Alexis. 'Moise' was produced March 27, 1827, and created a profound impression. True, it had been heard in its original form at the Italiens five years before, but the recollection of this only served to bring out more strongly the many improvements and additions in the new version such as the Introduction to the ist act ; the quartet and chorus ; the chorus ' La douce Aurore'; the march and chorus, etc. The fine finale to the 3rd act, an English critic has pronounced to have no rival but the finale to Beethoven's C minor Symphony. The airs de ballet were largely borrowed from 'Armida* (1817) and 'Giro in Babilonia' (i8ia). This magnificent work gave Rossini a sort of imperial position in Paris. But it was necessary to justify this, and he therefore resolved to try a work of a different character, and according to- the axiom of Boileau, to pass

From grave to gay, from lively to severe not in the direction of comic but of lyric opera. With this view he employed Scribe and Poirson to develope a vaudeville which they had written in 1816 to the old legend of 'Le Comte Ory,' adapting to that lively piece some of his fa- vourite music in the 'Viaggio a Reims,' the introduction and finale of the ist act, the duet of the Count and Countess, and the famous narrative of Raimbaut when he brings up the

J The custom In Italy in those days was to sell an opera to a man- ager -for two years, with exclusive right of representation ; after that It became public property. The only person who derived no profit from this arrangement was the unfortunate composer. Sic vos noi

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