I imagine Gaudenzio lives in a 18th
century house; now let me think....sorry, just fantasizing a
1857-68 'Un Petit Train de
Plaisir' was written by Rossini who hated trains, having had
a bad experience. This train in the piece from 'Péchés
de Vieillesse, 6. Album pour enfants dégourdis craches
soon after departure and the souls of the passengers make their
way into heaven.
For this train to be 'real' one needs to think of the 1821 Act
of Parliament that approved for a horse drawn tramway between
Stockton and Darlington. Stephenson's Locomotive No. 1 made the
trip on 27 September 1825: 40 kilometers doing between 12 and
15 kilometers an hour. In 1830 the Stephenson 'Rocket' with an
average 19 km/h and a max. 48 km/h would do the just opened Liverpool
Road, Manchester to Edge Hill, Liverpool.
No, don't want him to live in
/ Rossini Opera Stampa;
a 'KAUS Urbino Project'
related to the Rossini
Opera Festival 2012.
pages to keep track of the
participation of professor Joseph J. Visser in this project.
A Rossini opera is essentially
'The Rossini opera' is a museum for farce.
Farce is a fine, old and long
continuing tradition in Italy since Plauto.
Whilst Greek 'Old Comedy', as from Menander, is direct political
(for which Menander was persecuted), the Greek 'New Comedy' as
from Aristophanes, is focused on the 'the family circle' - not
on some real 'Mr So and So', a 'me' or 'you'; rather on 'the
likes of us' - eh, that is to say, 'the likes of them', of course
- ha! ha!; 'them' always being more funny than 'us'.
To play with that is the verry heart of farce: 'free from political
and/or intellectual content'; 'Father & Son' relationships
(the powers in the family, especially when twisted in female
hands) are core business. Plautus has, on the cultural shoulders
of Menander, brought this tradition into Italy. Word-play / pun
and repetition of sounds, words / sentences that 'belong to a
personality' is a key element to built with - this becomes a
main characteristic up until indeed Rossini's opera's - dragging
(albeit sometimes splendidly) on till today ( a bare-boned example
might be 'Dinner for One', 192xs (something) by Lauri Wylie).
When in the early 1980s I was in Montefiascone (doing some research
and making a documentary on the Barbarigo project) I was lucky
to see a Plauto play in the archeological dig at Bolsena.
The announcement left is the
original that is still on my studio-wall.
This opened my eyes for this sort of classical theatre. I had
never seen such befor. Theatre at the time (the 1980s) in The
Netherlands was 'modern', and it had to be about 'me' and what
'I' am able to relate to. This theatre was 'Plauto' and 'his
day' (day, pretty much, as a farce has no more time to spent
than a 24 hours span) - this was look into the Classic's World
- all parallels were to be made by myself (if it needed any).
This theatre is essential word play in stories on every-day family
life: a window opening on to life as we, most of the adiences
of all time, live it.
Rossini knows well to use
these characteristics in aria's, where he builds this out in
the belcanto technique.
I just happened to see the
older Glyndebourne production of Johan Straus' Fledermaus on
tele-vision; the Guardian may not have liked it, I absolutely
loved it. In fact this again was farce in the traditional sense
- with the, also traditional, 'up-dating' 'improvised' jokes.
The argument there was prety much on this theme of themes: do
we restage with the idea of a musuem, or do 'I' (the stage-director)
'create' when working on a re-creation.
I had to think on something
else also: as I am at this moment right in the middle of a process
of making a CD with some of my own music (songs for alto and
church-organ on texts of First World War Poems), I find - this
is the very first recording of these pieces - the musicians strongly
focussed on what my essential idea is/has been.
This is far away from the sort of interpretation that is made
when 'we' stage an older work of art; somehow then this crazy
idea creeps in, where all who are involved seem to have an idea
about what they want to learn the public that is going to see
it. Most certainly, I would argue, one should learn the audience
about what the original idea was at the time these things were
fresh and we did not know the onslaught of time (on ourselves
and the actual work). A work of art could be / should be / is
like an antique ping-pong ball filled with the air of a former
time. As such it tells about how things were, like deep and hidden
older ice-fields in a gletscher can tell about the history of
Gaudenzio's house again?
Rossini sometimes wrote the
recitatives on poor paper; as a result of which the ink has bled
so badly that pieces are not to be read anymore and pieces have
been re-calligraphed by others. Such might have had an influence
on what is actually coming to us as 'original'.
This practise, in my view, does not give a free hand to us today
to cut 'there' as it is 'not original anyway', as so often has
I think it is also a very special insight to the composers mind
that 'proper aria's' are on expensive. good quality, paper, and
sometimes recitatives are not.
In a (was it 2009?) Cambridge
conference with things like "attempted to get to the roots
of the musicological discipline's construction on nineteenth-century
music <...> intellectual framework inferred from the Beethoven-Rossini
opposition < ...etc." "German critics from Adolf
Bernhard Marx to Hugo Riemann habitually identified Beethoven
with the highest values in music - and Rossini with their debasement:
lasting German profundity and universality contrasting with ephemeral
Italian banality and populism; < ... etc.".
All good and well;
and knowing my place in
an intellectual debate to be the dog's house - and ok. I would
not dare to argue (for or against) Schopenhauer (in this debate
somehow on my side I seem to remember); and on top of all that,
being biased befor even considering being a reliable voice in
the case of La Donna Del Lago (that being a Walter Scot story,
and me having a few drops of blood from 'such' places):
has anyone ever listened to La Donna del Lago?, surely if one
does, the entire argument is like dry camel-shit in an oven,
only to be used when making a proper meal.
By the way if ever there was serious ('harmonious or indeed symphonious'
if you like) music it must be the orchestra and especially the
woodwind instrument - singer dialogues in The Lady of the Lake
(by the way, Rossini was the first to see the quality of Dear
old Walter Scott).
Just a short comment on me
being biased: is it possible to read Schenker and belief he is
not? If you can, please, grow up!; then again one would not even
want to try to learn a dog like myself about Euclid of Alexandria:
I would not see the fun in being right only because one follows
the rules made up by oneself beforehand.
Blame me; I'm beginning to
like 'my' Rossini! Yes, there are those who dislike tulips because
they are stupid flowers, and there are those who bid a fortune
and cannot even find it the gutters again for these very same
On this gaudenzio-house I am of course
just droodling away a bit, that being the way for me to get to
Rossini wrote between 1811
and 1818 some three/four opera's per year; he would scarcely
live if he did not.
He was making one third of the money of the tenor, or half of
that of the soprano at the premiere of Il Barbiere di Siviglia
- and for that having a contract to be at the three first performances
as the keyboard player, in case the orchestra of amateurs would
get lost - having no copyrights anyway as the scores belonged
to the impressario of the theater; on top of that the composer
was to be the one to stage every new opera - for that staging
was hardly a penny: "who'd value a farce". As such
Rossini did well and slowly came to 'financial security', something
we can hardly value enough - when he visited Beethoven in Vienna
Rossini was chocked to see the living conditions of this great
Austrian Maestro. Real money Rossini made in England when playing
and singing for the aristocracy (duets with the king), and better
even when he took on positions as a director at the Theatre Italien
in Paris and working for the Vienna Festival; his so called 'fortune'
never the less was made with the help of banker-friends.
The Theatrical observer and,
Daily bills of the play:
no. 836 Wednesday, Aug. 4,
- " The Prince of
Saxe-Cobourg, son-in-law to the King of England, has shewn a
remarkable instance of generosity towards Rossini. The custom
with this celebrated Italian composer, is, never to go to
any musical soirees for less than 50 guineas. Ho three times
presided over Concerts for the Prince, for which his Highness
sent him 500 guineas and a diamond pin."
Now, this we conceive is nothing
more nor less than a puff of Signor Rossini's, on his return
to the French capital. If we could bring ourselves to believe
that a Prince, who has hitherto been popular on account
of his own personal conduct, as well as the endearing reeo^ection
of his lamented Princess, could so far forget the liberality of
the founders of his fortune, as thus to lavish on a conceited
foreigner, for three nights superintendanee of a band of musicians,
a sum that would keep in comfort ten British families for
an entire year, we could hardly restrain the honest indignation
of our feelings, from, expressing the contempt every Englishman
of sense must join with us in entertaining, at such a wanton
waste of British money on a worthless object.
Joseph J. Visser, Composer, Visual
Artist , Author/translator & Lecturer.
The Theatrical observer and, Daily
bills of the play:
no. 928 Friday, Nov 1824.
To the Editor of The Theatrical Observer.
I waul words to express my admiration
of the incomparable music of Weber, who I hope will go ou
in the brilliant career he has commenced ; produce many
Operas of similar high character, and lay that Italian vagabond,
Rossini, on the shelf. The conduct of that bloated maestro,
both to the Opera-riouse, ami the English public, during his
late visit, was most barefaced - he engaged to produce
two new Operas, and never wrote a line, except some trash about Lord
Byron. - Vide Maria Von Veber !
Yours, &c. TWEEDLE-DUAL
To complement the controversy:
Le Globe after the premiere
of 'Guillaume Tell':
From that evening dates
a new era, not only for French music but also for dramatic music
in all countries.
I for myself am inclined to see truth
in this last remark; and I can see sense in a Rossini who, after
all he's done already in the rich tradition that he loved working
in, does not see fit to indeed go for the artistic struggle -
mind you, a life long struggle with an ever merciless public
- of implementing that new music.
At that moment in life, emotionally unstable and feeling/being
in fact unhealthy, he rather leaves that into the hands of his
He himself never had the intention to fight an audience, or any
of his collegues - the audience, and these collegues fought him,
definitely more than would be fair on any scale.
More importantly, Rossini never did 'artistic battles'.
Historically speaking he is from the 'romantic era'; psychologically
speaking we like to think in 'romantic' terms when looking at
As a public we do not know 'art' as in: the work someone does
from a very early age; we do not accept 'art as a trade' (which, in fact and whatever you rather like it to
be in the hands of the people we love to do the work that we
would not, ever, even begin to undertake, it
is; certainly for those being born before the romantic era.
Then again, after a brief pause, Rossini started on a new carreer
as a composer in the real romantic style. This part of his musical
life he himself sometimes referred to as 'sins of old age', or
simply 'sins' - this last word he had used also for publicly
failing opera's like Il Signor Burschino, a 'sin of youth' -
funny if we regard the clever playfulness he practised in that
opera. Never a revolution, but the public never the less could
not but ruin it with, ever so unfair and silly, criticisms.
I like to consider his usage of words like 'sins' referring to
his work as a fine sort of modesty that keeps his on the otherhand
excuberant life-style in perfect balance.
REVUE DE PARIS; Août, 1829 Quatrième livraison:
'De la Musique en France"
(réimpression, Slatkine Reprints, Genève, 1972):
onto this most important article, please: