Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868)
Dramma giocoso per musica in due atti
Libretto di Gaetano Gasbarri
Prima rappresentazione Bologna Teatro del Corso, 26 ottobre 1811
Nuova edizione della Deutsche Rossini Gesellschaft a cura di Marco Beghelli e Stefano Piana Live recorded October 2001
Teatro Comunale di Modena
In collaborazione con
Istituto Musicale pareggiato "Orazio Vecchi" - Modena e con Teatro Comunale di Modena
Ernestina - Olga Voznessenskaia (contralto)
Gamberotto - Carlo Morini (baritono)
Buralicchio - Luciano Miotto (basso comico)
Ermanno - Vito Martino (tenore)
Rosalia - Silvia Vajente (soprano)
Frontino - Daniele Maniscalchi (tenore)
Orchestra del Conservatorio di Musica "G.B. Martini" di Bologna Maestro Concertatore e Direttore CARMINE CARRISI
Clavicembalo: Alessandro Orsaria
con la collaborazione del "Coro Filarmonico di Piacenza"
Regia, progetto scenografico e costumi FRANCESCO ESPOSITO
Aiuto regista MICAELA TIOZZO
Luci DANIELE NALDI
Collaboratore alle scene STEFANO IANNETTA
Recorded by KM UNITS - MILANO Video Director GIOVANNA NOCETTI Siage photos by Magic Vision - Bologna
Rossini's First Comic Opera
After his successful Venetian debut with the one act farce La Cambiale di Matrimonio (Nov. 3, 1810), Rossini's fame grew rapidly in the Bologna he had adopted as his home. For the following Autumn season, the Teatro del Corso signed him on, not only as harpsichordist but also as composer of a new score in two acts: L'equivoco Stravagante, presented on October 26, 1811 and destined to open the series of Rossini's great comic operas. We know nothing of the circumstances giving rise to this first opera. The libretto had been entrusted to the Neapolitan (but Florentine by residence) Gaetano Gasbarri, who pursued, in his verses, the path of pure triviality, loading the plot, already rich in sexual ambiguities, with gags and double entendres. In the classic situation of the young girl who doesnt intend to marry the rich braggart, preferring instead a timid and penniless youth, the plan excogitated to discourage the unwanted suitor is to lead him to believe that the girl is, in fact, a young castrato (or, in the then current, 'proper' form, a 'musico').
To tell the truth, the sexual 'equivoco' named in the opera's title, should not have sounded so 'stravagante', but quite realistic for the times: the Napoleonic government had, only ten years previous, definitively prohibited, in Italy, the castration of boys launched on singing careers; the fact that the practice was treated with irony, as if really a thing of the past, shows a desire to cancel those deeds from memory. However, castrati like Girolamo Crescentini and Giambattista Velluti were still highly appreciated in operatic circles, while the theatrical columns continued to carry, throughout the 1700's, reports of infatuations of male audiences for young castrati who, performing in feminine attire, were easily mistaken for beautiful young girls (see Balzac's Sarrasine).
The opera's subject was, thus, risque, made credible by the 'androgynous' vocality of the heroine chosen for the role, the celebrated contralto Maria Marcolini, a singer destined to be identified with Rossini's Bologna years (first interpreter of Ciro in Babilonia, La Pietra del Paragone, L'ltaliana in Algeri, Sigismondo), no less than would Colbran in the Neapolitan years and Cinti-Damoreau in the Paris years.
At any rate, the subject matter survived the scrutiny of the censors; what caused the most embarrassment was, on the contrary, the dialog created by Gasbarri, the deliberately extravagant vocabulary, full of clumsy neologisms, puns, scurrilous double entendres, expressions which varied from silly to absurd to exagerated or linguistically unheard of.
The evident purpose of the libretto was to describe the characters in the most grotesque manner possible the usual parvenus who want to break into society as cultivated people, succeeding, however, to render themselves ridiculous. Gasbarri seems here to want to go even further what he puts into the mouths of his characters is, in fact, not a clever deformation of the Italian language, but a vocabulary of his own invention. The over-all result can raise the curiosity of a modern linguist, such is his audacity and inventiveness, but must have frightened the Police functionary assigned to review the libretto. The censure was heavy as evidenced still today by whole passages present in the score with ambiguous words and images, but printed in the official libretto in altered form (evidently, the process of musical composition had begun prior to the presentation of the libretto for the needed authorization).
What was actually sung by the artists prepared by Rossini is unk-nown to us. Certainly, the effect must have been, at many points of the score, embarrassing. The zealous functionary, in fact, had not taken into account the force of the music, capable of underli-ning with malicious intonations and to emphasize with provocative repetitions, words which, in a simple reading of the libretto, seem innocuous. Rossini gave his all in producing an audacious score (with results which were, at certain moments, truly exhila-rating), and the public authorities, finally aware of the reality of the facts, ordered the suspension of the opera after only three per-formances. The early withdrawal of the score and the total silence that fell over it for a century and a half have not impeded the proliferation of partial or complete handwritten copies of the opera with various transcriptions and adaptations, thus augmenting the workload of modern philologists who, with the loss of the Rossini's original, attempt today a rigorous reconstruction of the musical text. From an analysis of the sources a dual tradition has arisen corresponding grosso modo to the original score on the one hand and, on the other, a slightly abbreviated and instrumentally simplified version. For this execution, which has marked the return of I'Equivoco Stravagante in its native Bologna in the hands of that Conservatorio (ex Liceo Filarmonico) so rich in memories of Rossini, the edition produced by Deutsche Rossini Gesellschaft has followed the second option corresponding approximately to what one presumes to have been performed in those three nineteenth century recitals.
Rossini fans will find absolutely familiar elements mixed with other more unusual ones. Some themes, some complete sections, reside also in other works, beginning with the overture, taken from the preceding Cambiale di Matrimonio together with a pair of melodies from arias of Buralicchio and Gamberotto. Other fragments will sound familiar because they were adopted in successive operas such as Tancredi and, above all, in La Pietra di Paragone, which hosts the rondo' of the heroine transferred whole to the new character, interpreted by Marcolini herself. Concerning the style of composition, the only review of the period judged it a good synthesis of the best examples currently in vogue. The modern listener, however, hears something more than a simple summary of its contemporary styles; many revivals of even important operas of the same period tend to leave us unsatisfied. Instead, we hear already in I'Equivoco Stravagante that melodic inventiveness, that demonic rythm, that musical electricity which made, in just a few months, the impetuous rise of Rossini.
From the very first experience, the student had outdistanced his teachers.