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Progetto ROS / Rossini Opera Stampa; a 'KAUS Urbino Project' related to the Rossini Opera Festival 2012

first draughts for mechanical music box:

Artistically speaking, what was this world where Rossini worked in?

Living in the second half of the 'romantic era' (1750-1850) Giaochino Rossini would be well acquainted with the 'improvvisatori e improvvisatrici' and their theatrical-, and indeed street-performances, known and applauded by 'tout l'Europe', for as far as some would be on 'the Grand Tour'.
(see the great book by Angela Esterhammer: Romanticism and Improvisation, 1750-1850; Cambridge Studies in Romantics; Cambridge University Press, 2008)
This kind of 'rap' or 'poetry-slam' is the nearest thing in literature to what we know in music as improvisation, the artistic play-ground where the 'da capo aria' (George Friedrich Haendel 1685-1759) is such a great part of.
This area of the arts is one aspect of performance, where an artist is to excel, in a most individual way, related to a subject (a suggestion from the public, or a theme, a composed line)
Composers (people who 'compose' = 'make or form by uniting parts or elements') take their time to find 'the fittest' way for the parts in their trade; be it words, musical notes or painted colours. In such process they would obviously know/find the places where consideration has decided for one choice, where other choices were in many ways equally good (they are supposed to know the why- and why-not's); changes consequently have an influence on all, or at least a fair few, other spots in the composition.
On the shoulders of the composer is the creation of the 'original unison' of what his mind wishes to express and the metaphorical expression of the material/matter at hand. When succeeded such a piece is an 'authentic masterpiece'. Such pieces open the way into a new psychological vision, and new techniques to handle the materials from which to 'built'. To work on those both vision and technique is the artistic area of the performer (one who is as near to a creation as her/his own make alows her/him), or the 'improvisor'.
The ever so popular 'spontaneity' and the state of 'non-preparation' is but a limited state of mind/skill/knowledge based on experience with other authentic masterpieces; one's cultural heritage ­ ask mr. J.S. Bach about his 'Musikalisches Opfer' and how and what he actually has 'composed' = 'written down' afterwards.

If that is not the world that Giaochino Rossini worked in, it certainly is the infinitely difficult minute to minute decission taking space where today's performers live in; knowingly taking up a score in which the composer has left 'some' space for improvisation

Improvisation = deviation for modern musicians, as 'we' have learned to work on pieces that bear to the minutest of detail the intentions of the composer. This is a million miles away from a composer starting at 12 years old from a musical family, with the experience of a father being (shortly as this may have been) imprisoned for political reasons, and a mother making the most of a good but not well trained voice. All that in an economical situation in all of Europe where money was tight and talent used to the utmost to make a penny; pasta was invented to make use of a flour that was for animals in richer era's, and the tomato (being cheap to produce) was becomming the food of the people after a long time of obscurity in which it was considered poisonous.
Improvisation = elaboration; the best 'elaborator' would make the best dime.

I am beginning to think that Giaochino Rossini, sometimes writing for the orchestra most in the intresting instrumentations / at the same time rhythmically fairly boring / does by this approach leave singers the greatest of free space for that 'elaborating'; it gets better when on 'this carpet' of instrumental sound 'the steps' of a singer has its own time.
Now which singer would have this romantic gut, to stop an orchestra and leaving it for a moment in dispair?
I'm sure the audiences would be excited. As they could be about the first flute's 'elaboration' in rhythm after the bow's ticking ­ the bows are of beat, when correct in most places. This orchestral-carpet could win when, especially in introductory notes leading into and rounding of an aria were in a disticntly other tempo than the aria itself.
Freedom for musicians is much debated now, but we should know: it alwasy was.
Rossini (born in 1792) had his first opera staged in 1810 (it was in fact his second). Writing some 3 to 4 per year and staging from 1815 (as the result of the contract he had in the San Carlo and Del Fondo theaters in Naples) 2 The 'Elisabetta regina d'Inghliterra' in which he for the first time writes down all ornamentation; Mozart and Beethoven had started to do so for parts in their concerts where solo-players could show off (these were suggestions for those who might just not have too much personal ideas, so to speak). Being a singer and player of a diversity of instruments from an early age this might give something to think about.

draughts for mechanical music box:

Talking about some Rossini with dear friends we came up with probably the most unfair comments:
"Dad made Rossini into some impossible, and ongoing Thieving Jay"
another dad: "Rossini's music was a very popular concert choice post-war, when we needed to forget the unpleasantness about us"
"Such < the Thieving Jay > is probably not fair to Rossini, but it certainly kept me from listening for other stuf"
"Ill sleep on Rossini
(note: ON, not WITH)"
"a director < > to hooked on very shallow iconography and allegory < > poses à la 'Grease' etc < > a half-dimensional view of everything"
"Could be the second vision of hell is listening to eternal trills and warbles"
then on a more positive note:
"a Frederica von Stade I cannot forget; it giving you the feeling that too many inexperienced singers are thrown on poor old Rossini"

(yes it is spring and my hair is off)
Joseph J. Visser, Composer, Visual Artist , Author/translator & Lecturer.

- on these fixed marriages:
Dietrich Buxtehude married Anna Margarethe Tunder, the daughter of his (late) predecessor, as part of the bargain, in order to keep her from poverty. It was a happy mariage for all we know. Such arrangements, also nowadays, are more commonplace than most of us care to think. I know in my art-school, 1960ies, a girl in fact doing the same (she was not happy and had - or should I say, suffered - psychological treatment).
Such 'keep the money in the family' marriages are no surprise; and on the otherhand we should consider many lower working-class people never even got to the status of being married, by lack of money to begin with, until pretty much 1900.

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