ⓘ La gazzetta

                                     

ⓘ La gazzetta

La gazzetta, ossia Il matrimonio per concorso is an opera buffa by Gioachino Rossini. The libretto was by Giuseppe Palomba after Carlo Goldonis play Il matrimonio per concorso of 1763. The opera satirizes the influence of newspapers on peoples lives. There is critical disagreement as to its success, although the New England Conservatorys notes for their April 2013 production state that the opera "was an immediate hit, and showed Rossini at his comic best."

                                     

1. Composition history

Following the success of his Il Barbiere di Siviglia in Rome, the composer arrived in Naples in February 1816 to discover that fire had destroyed the Teatro San Carlo, that he was obliged to compose a cantata to celebrate a royal wedding, plus supervise a production of his Tancredi. And the music for La gazzetta was due for August performances. It would be Rossinis second opera written for Naples and the only comedy he wrote there.

was his wont, Rossini borrowed music from some of his previous works, These included Il Turco in Italia 1814, La pietra del paragone 1812, and also from Torvaldo e Dorliska 1815. None of these pieces would have heard by Naples audiences of the time. However, musicologist Philip Gossett stresses that:

We need to be careful about assuming a mechanical use of self-borrowing by the composer. Like Handel before him, Rossini was not averse to borrowing from himself, when he felt a piece would not be known widely or when he felt that he could introduce new material into it. But Rossini was always a composer, and he would not easily take a passage and employ it without rethinking its function in a new musical and dramatic context.

While the overture was written specifically for this opera, it is probably the best known piece from the work, because, along with other music from La gazzetta, it was incorporated into La Cenerentola. These borrowings may have speeded up the process of composition, but Charles Osborne notes that "on this occasion, Rossini failed to complete the opera with his usual alacrity" and speculates that it may have been caused by his attraction to the soprano Isabella Colbran. It opened a month later than originally scheduled.

                                     

2. Performance history

19th century performances

The opera was first performed on 26 September 1816 at the Teatro dei Fiorentini in Naples, where it ran for 21 performances. Osborne would appear to disagree, since he notes that "after a few performances it was withdrawn, the general opinion being that its libretto was clumsy and its music undistinguised."

Following the initial performances there was only one revival of the opera in the 19th Century, when it was performed during the 1828 Carnival in Palermo.

20th century and beyond

While Osborne does not mention a revival in 1828, Philip Gossetts recent work would seem to support its existence. But, as Osborne notes, the opera did not re-appear until a 1960 Italian radio performance and a staging in Vienna by the Vienna Chamber Opera in 1976.

The UK premiere was given by the Garsington Opera in Oxfordshire on 12 June 2001, with the first performances of the new critical edition prepared by Fabrizio Scipioni and Philip Gossett which, at that time, did not contain the act 1 quintet. La gazzetta was presented by the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro that summer and Pesaro repeated it during the summer of 2005, directed by Dario Fo. Because the quintet "was just identified in the Spring of 2012, after the librarian in Palermo at the Conservatory, Dario Lo Cicero, found the manuscript, the stage director, Dario Fo, arranged something else for the spot where the Quintet should have gone." Fos production for Pesaro was later presented at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in 2005. This production has been recorded on DVD. It was also given by the Rossini in Wildbad Festival.

The American premiere of not only the critical edition but the newly found act 1 quintet of La gazzetta was presented by the New England Conservatory between 6 and 9 April 2013 in Boston, the first time since the 19th century that the opera was given in its complete form. Prior to the performances, Dr. Gossett led two panels at the Conservatory.

The first professional presentations of the critical edition of the opera containing the recently found quintet were presented at the Opera Royal de Wallonie in Liege in Belgium in June 2014.

The opera was also given at the Royal College of Music in London in late June 2014.

A new production of the opera was presented at the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro in August 2015, when the chorus and orchestra of the Teatro Comunale di Bologna were conducted by Enrique Mazzola

                                     

3. Synopsis

Time: 18th century Place: Paris

The opera tells the story of a pretentious Neapolitan, Don Pomponio Storione, who travels the world in search of a husband for his daughter, putting ads in the newspapers. He arrives in a city, and after a series of ridiculously inadequate suitors, such as the Quaker Monsù Traversen or the waiter at the hotel, who usually end up beating poor Pomponio, he finally resigns to let his daughter marry her lover, the only suitor he seems to consider inappropriate.

                                     

4. Music

Borrowings from earlier operas

has been noted, Rossini borrowed melodic fragments from some of his previous works. These include a quintet from largest musical contributor, Il Turco in Italia 1814, as well as other pieces, such as a second-act trio from La pietra del paragone 1812, plus a Largo from Torvaldo e Dorliska 1815. All would have been unknown to audiences in Naples.

The lost Quintet

Musicologist Philip Gossett, who oversaw the preparation of the critical edition in 2002 and who, in 2012, identified music found in Palermo as belonging to the opera in fact, it was the lost act 1 quintet discussed the preparation for the US premiere performances in an interview in The Boston Globe:

A close examination of the music of the quintet opens a window onto Rossini’s creative process. It is in three parts, the first of which seems to have been newly composed for La Gazzetta. The second and third parts both make use of music from other operas, La Scala di Seta and Il Barbiere, respectively. Yet in each case the material is reworked and refashioned, so that the results have audible roots in the earlier works yet also sound new and different. What the quintet shows, Gossett said, is that even when he plunders his own work, Rossini isn’t mechanically repeating himself. Instead, "he’s paying attention to the details of this particular performance of this piece." With the quintet restored, and a large hole in the opera now closed, Gossett is confident that La Gazzetta is now musically complete. He noted that since today’s listeners are less troubled by the self-borrowing, "I think that it is an opera that is easy for a viewer to understand and appreciate - much more now than it may have been in the 19th century."

The lost Quintet and the critical edition

In an essay originally published in German in the Rossini studies journal,Gossett describes the evolution of the Quintet:

At the time Fabrizio Scipioni and I prepared the critical edition of La gazzetta, it seemed as if Rossini had not prepared a major ensemble in the first act, a Quintet for Lisetta, Doralice, Alberto, Filippo, and Don Pomponio, that is, for all the principal characters in the opera, whose text was printed in the original libretto of the opera. The piece was absent in all sources known of the opera. It was not in Rossinis autograph manuscript, nor in secondary manuscripts nor in the printed edition of the score that Schonenberger published in Paris in 1855, followed by Ricordi in Milan in 1864. The critical edition accepted the comments made by Marco Mauceri in his brilliant study of the opera, and assumed that Rossini had not composed the Quintet, or at least had not allowed it to be performed. That there was a considerable amount of recitative leading up to the Quintet text, following the Cavatina Lisetta No. 4, and before the Aria Doralice No. 5, was a result of the absence of the Quintet. In any event, Rossini did not prepare any recitative in the entire opera, assigning that task, instead, to two associates, but no setting whatsoever had been found for the scenes present in the original printed libretto, leading up to the Quintet.

He continues by noting the absence of music for the Quintet, in spite of the presence of the text in the printed libretto: Finally, we learn that Rossini manuscripts can turn up even in unexpected places. We must continue to be on the lookout for musical manuscripts of Rossini, even in collections we thought we knew about.

Premiere performances which included the lost quintet

When La gazzetta was given its American premiere on 6 April 2013, it was conducted by Joseph Rescigno. Singing and sharing the major roles were Conservatory students Leroy Y. Davis and Kyle Albertson as on Pomponio. His daughter Lisetta was sung by sopranos Bridget Haile and Soyoung Park and the baritone role of Filippo, the innkeeper, was shared between Jason Ryan and David Lee. The tenors Marco Jordao and James Dornier sang the role of Alberto.