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Title: The Great Musicians: Rossini and His School
Author: Edwards, Henry Sutherland, 1828-1906
Language: English
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_A Series of Biographies of the Great Musicians._






V. =ROSSINI=, and the Modern Italian School. By H. SUTHERLAND EDWARDS.



*** Dr. Hiller and other distinguished writers, both English and
foreign, have promised contributions.

Each volume will be complete in itself. Small post 8vo, cloth extra.

188, Fleet Street, E.C.



EDITED BY IWAN MÜLLER, M.A., _New College, Oxford_.

The objects of the proposed Series are:--

(1) To present in a connected and historical form a view of the
contributions made to Philosophy by English thinkers, together with such
biographical details as their life and times may render expedient.

(2) To adapt the work in price and method of treatment to the
requirements of general readers, English and American, no less than to
those of students.

(3) To issue each volume of the Series as a complete and integral work,
entirely independent of the rest, except in form and general method of

To each Philosopher will be assigned a separate volume, giving as
comprehensive and detailed a statement of his views and contributions to
Philosophy as possible, explanatory rather than critical, opening with a
brief biographical sketch, and concluding with a short general summary,
and a bibliographical appendix.

Price and Size: 180 to 200 pp. Size, crown 8vo. Price 3_s._ 6_d._

The volumes will appear in rapid succession, definite arrangements
having been made for the following:--

=ADAM SMITH=, J. FARRER, Author of "Primitive Manners and Customs."

[_Just ready._










=HOBBES, A. H.= GOSSET, B.A., Fellow of New College, Oxford.

=HARTLEY= and =JAMES MILL=, G. S. BOWER, B.A., late Scholar of New
College, Oxford.

Arrangements are in progress for volumes on Locke, Hume, Paley, Reid,
&c., and will shortly be announced.

188, Fleet Street, E.C.



The Great Musicians





[_All Rights Reserved_]



CHAP.                                                      PAGE

I.   ROSSINI'S CHILDHOOD AND YOUTH                            1

II.   LA PIETRA DEL PARAGONE                                 11


IV.   TANCREDI                                              27

V.    OPERATIC CUSTOMS IN ROSSINI'S TIME                    33

VI.   ROSSINI AT NAPLES                                     42

VII.  PREPARATIONS FOR THE BARBER                           50

VIII. IL BARBIERE                                           59

IX.   ROSSINI AND THE COMIC IN MUSIC                        68

X.    FROM OTELLO TO SEMIRAMIDE                             72

XI.   ROSSINI ON HIS TRAVELS                                79

XII.  DONIZETTI                                             89

XIII. VERDI                                                106

LIST OF ROSSINI'S PUBLISHED WORKS                          113




A contemporary of Cimarosa and of Paisiello, his predecessors, but not,
except at the very outset of his career, his models, and of Donizetti,
Bellini, and Verdi, his successors, and in an artistic sense his
followers, Rossini is a central figure in the nineteenth-century history
of Italian music.

Lives of Rossini have been published freely enough during the last fifty
or sixty years. It but rarely happens, even to the greatest man, to have
his biography written or his statue erected during his lifetime. But
Rossini lived so long that it seemed impossible to wait for his death;
and more than one writer seized upon him when he was still a young man.
Perhaps it occurred to the Abbé Carpani, the first of Rossini's
biographers, that he was already approaching the critical age at which
so many great composers--not to speak of painters and poets--had ceased
not only to work but to live; Mozart, for instance, Cimarosa, Weber,
Hérold, Bellini, Schubert, and Mendelssohn. It has been suggested,
indeed, that Rossini might perhaps have wished his career to be measured
against those of so many other composers whose days were cut short at
about the age he had attained when he produced _William Tell_. Rossini
was but thirty-seven when _William Tell_, his last work for the stage,
and his last work of any importance with the exception of the _Stabat
Mater_ was brought out. But when, soon after the production of
_Semiramide_, played for the first time in 1823, Stendhal published that
_Life of Rossini_ which is known to be founded almost entirely on the
Abbé Carpani's work, Rossini, at the age of thirty-one, had already
completed the most important portion of his artistic life. Readable,
interesting, and in many places charming, Stendhal's _Life of Rossini_
is at the same time meagre, and, worse still, untrustworthy. But there
is no reason why a tolerable Life of Rossini, including an account of
all the changes and reforms introduced by this composer into Italian
opera, should not have been published when he was only thirty-one years
of age. There would have been nothing of moment to add to it but a
narrative of Rossini's visit to London, of his residence in Paris, and
above all, of the circumstances under which he produced _William Tell_
together with his reasons--if they could only be discovered--for
abandoning composition when he had once produced that work.

The life of Rossini divides itself, more naturally than most things to
which this favourite mode of division is applied, into three parts.
During the first period of his existence, extending from his birth to
the year 1823 when _Semiramide_ was brought out, he made his reputation.
From 1823 when he visited London and Paris, until 1829 when he produced
his great masterpiece in the serious style, and afterwards threw down
his pen for ever, he made his fortune. Finally, from 1829, the year of
_William Tell_, until 1869, the year of his death, he enjoyed his
fortune and his reputation; caring not too much for either, and so
little desirous to increase the former that he abandoned his "author's
rights" in France--fees, that is to say, which he was entitled to
receive for the representation of his works--to the Society of Musical

Rossini made his appearance in public when he was only seven years of
age; doing so not, it need scarcely be said, in the character of a
composer, but in that of a singer. It was in Paer's _Camilla_, composed
for Vienna and afterwards brought out at Bologna, that Rossini, in the
year 1799, took the part of a child. "Nothing," says Madame
Giorgi-Righetti, the original Rosina in the _Barber of Seville_,[1]
"could be more tender, more touching, than the voice and action of this
extraordinary child in the beautiful canon of the third act; _senti si
fiero instante_. The Bolognese of that time declared that he would some
day be one of the greatest musicians known. I need not say whether the
prophecy has been verified."

Gioachino Antonio Rossini was born on the 29th February, 1792; and the
circumstance of his having come into the world in a leap-year justified
him, he used to maintain, in counting his birthday, not annually
according to the usual custom, but once every four years. According to
this method of computation he had numbered nineteen birthdays when, at
the age of seventy-seven, he died. What is better worth remembering is
the fact that Rossini was born, as if by way of compensation, the very
year in which Mozart died; Mozart who, indebted to the Italians for much
of the sweetness and singableness of his lovely melodies, was to give to
Italy, through Rossini, new instrumental combinations, new dramatic
methods, and new operatic forms.

It may have been very desirable to show that Rossini was of
distinguished ancestry, and that he had a great-uncle, who, in the
middle of the sixteenth century, was governor of Ravenna. But it is more
interesting to know that he was of good musical parentage. His father,
it is true, was nothing more than town trumpeter at Pesaro; herald and
crier, that is to say, to the sound of the trumpet. But his mother was
what musicians call "an artist." She possessed a very beautiful voice;
and when the town trumpeter fell ill or in some other manner
incapacitated himself for supporting the family, she replaced him as
bread-winner by taking an engagement as an operatic singer. According to
one of Rossini's biographers, Rossini the trumpeter came to grief
through his political opinions, which were of a more decided character
than any that were ever professed, publicly at least, by his eminent
son. When, after the Italian campaign, the French army in 1796 entered
Pesaro, the old Rossini so far forgot his official position and the duty
he owed to the state, as to proclaim his sympathy and admiration for the
Republican troops; on whose retirement he was punished for his want of
loyalty, being first deprived of his employment and afterwards cast into

The trumpet was not the only instrument cultivated by the elder Rossini.
He also played the horn; playing it, not like an ordinary town crier,
from whom only a few loud flourishes would be expected by way of
preliminary announcement, but in true musicianly style.

The horn, eighty years ago, was not a very important instrument in
Italian orchestration. But such as it was the elder Rossini played it in
more than one operatic band; and in due time, and to all appearances as
soon as it was physically possible to do so, the father taught the art
of playing the horn to his precocious son. Rossini was still very young
when he accompanied his parents on musical excursions, or "tours" as
they would now be called; and on these occasions, when the father took
the part of first horn in some local orchestra--which was sometimes
nothing more than the band of a travelling show--the part of second horn
was assigned to the son. The mother at the same time sang on the stage.
Rossini, then, at once vocalist and instrumentalist, began his career in
both characters at a very early age. It has been seen that at seven he
appeared on the stage as an operatic singer. Between the ages of seven
and twelve he was much occupied in horn playing; and his performances in
company with his father had probably some effect in developing that
taste for wind instruments and especially for horns, for which his
orchestration was one day to be remarkable.

In his thirteenth year Rossini was taken to Bologna and presented to
Professor Tesci of that city. The professor heard the little boy sing
and play, and was so pleased with his performances that he procured him
an engagement as chorister in one of the local churches. It was of this
period in Rossini's life that Heine was thinking when, in his well-known
article on Rossini's _Stabat Mater_, he wrote: "The true character of
Christian art does not reside in thinness and plainness of the body, but
in a certain effervescence of the soul which neither the musician nor
the painter can appropriate to himself either by baptism or by study;
and in this respect I find in the _Stabat_ of Rossini a more truly
Christian character than in the _Paulus_ of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy;
an oratorio which the adversaries of Rossini point to as a model of the
Christian style. Heaven preserve me from wishing to express by that the
least blame against a master so full of merits as the composer of
_Paulus_; and the author of these letters is less likely than any one to
wish to criticise the Christian character of the oratorio in question
from clerical, or, so to say, pharisaical reasons. I cannot, however,
avoid pointing out that at the age when Mendelssohn commenced
Christianity at Berlin (he was only baptized in his thirteenth year),
Rossini had already deserted it a little, and had lost himself entirely
in the mundane music of operas. Now he has again abandoned the latter to
carry himself back in dreams to the Catholic recollections of his first
youth--to the days when he sang as a child in the choir of the Pesaro
[for which read Bologna] cathedral, and took part as an acolyte in the
service of the holy mass."

Besides enabling him to earn money by singing in the churches, Professor
Tesci gave his young friend lessons in singing and pianoforte playing,
so that after two years he could execute the most difficult music at
first sight. He now was found competent to act as musical director, and
accepted an engagement in that character with a travelling company which
gave performances at various little towns in the Romagna. When he was
fifteen years of age Rossini gave up his engagement as director to the
wandering troop and went back to Bologna, where (1807) he was admitted
as a student to the Lyceum. Such application and such intelligence did
he now show, that after he had been but one year at the academy he was
chosen by the director, Professor Mattei, to compose the cantata
expected annually from the Lyceum's best pupil.

Rossini's first work, written when he was sixteen years of age and
executed at the Lyceum of Bologna in 1808, was the cantata in question,
which, if not based on the favourite subject of Orpheus, was at least
connected with it. _Pianto d'Armonia per la Morte d'Orfeo_ was at once
the subject and the title of this memorable composition. At this period
Rossini was an ardent student of Haydn's symphonies and quartets; and
after the production of his cantata, which obtained remarkable success,
he was appointed director of the Philharmonic concerts, and profited by
his position to give a performance of Haydn's _Seasons_. A distinct
reminiscence of this time, and more than a distinct reminiscence of one
of the best known melodies in the _Seasons_, was to be found eight years
afterwards in the lively trio ("Zitti, Zitti") of _The Barber of

During his studies at the Lyceum Rossini did not neglect the piano. He
entertained a high respect for this admirable instrument, this orchestra
on a reduced scale, minus, of course, the variety of _timbres_; and one
of his latest works was a fantasia for pianoforte on airs from
_L'Africaine_, dedicated to his friend Meyerbeer. Rossini used at this
time to style himself "pianist of the fourth class;" and that he
obtained no higher rank in the pianistic hierarchy is perhaps due to the
peculiarity of the instruction he received from his professor at the
Lyceum of Bologna, Signor Prinetti. Prinetti taught his pupils to play
the scales with the first finger and thumb. A pianist taught to depend
on his first finger and thumb to the neglect of the three other fingers
could scarcely be expected to graduate very highly in the pianoforte

Rossini was just seventeen years of age when he produced his first
symphony, which was followed by a quartet; and a year later he brought
out his first opera. During his musical travels in the Romagna, where,
among other places, he was in the habit of visiting Lugo, Ferrara,
Forli, and Sinigaglia, he had, at the last-named place, inspired with
confidence the Marquis Cavalli, director of the local theatre. The
marquis was also impresario of the San Mosè Theatre at Venice (the San
Mosè, like most other Italian theatres, took its name from the parish
to which it belonged), and he wished Rossini to compose an opera for his
Venetian establishment. Rossini's previous work had been performed
before the professor's pupils and a few invited friends at the Lyceum of
Bologna. The opera ordered by the Marquis Cavalli was the first of his
works performed before the general public. It was a one-act piece,
entitled _La Cambiale di Matrimonio_. It was given for the first time in
1810 when Rossini was just eighteen years old. The sum paid for it was
200 francs, or, in English money, 8_l._

_La Cambiale di Matrimonio_ was succeeded by a cantata on the
oft-treated subject of the abandonment of Dido. _Didone Abbandonata_ was
composed for a relative, the brilliant Esther Mombelli, and it was
performed in 1811. The same year Rossini brought out at Bologna
_L'Equivoco Stravagante_, an _opera buffa_ in two acts. In this work, of
which nothing seems to have been preserved, the concerted pieces were
much admired. The final rondo, too, is still cited as a type of those
final airs for which Rossini seemed to have a particular taste until,
after producing the most brilliant specimen of the style in the "Non più
mesta" of _Cinderella_, he left them to the care of other less original
composers; for of Rossini's final airs "Non più mesta" was the final one
of all.

None of Rossini's earlier operas were engraved; a circumstance which
allowed him to borrow from them the best pieces for other works, but
which also prevents us in the present day from arriving at any precise
idea as to their value and importance.

The first opera of Rossini's which, years afterwards, was deemed worthy
the honour of a revival was _L'Inganno Felice_, composed in 1812 for
Venice. It was brought out at Paris in 1819; and the impresario,
Barbaja, for whom Rossini composed so many admirable works, gave it at
Vienna, where he was carrying on an operatic enterprise simultaneously
with two other operatic enterprises at Milan and at Naples.

_L'Inganno Felice_ was the first opera by which Rossini made a decided
mark, and such was its success that he was now requested to furnish
works for Ferrara, Milan, and Rome. For Ferrara he was to compose an

But although _Ciro in Babilonia_ is generally described in the
catalogues of Rossini's works as an oratorio, yet, like _Mosè in Egitto_
composed six years later, it was an opera so far as regards form, and
was only called an oratorio from the circumstance of its being given in
Lent without the usual stage accessories. _Ciro in Babilonia_ was by no
means successful as a whole. The composer, however, saved from the wreck
of his oratorio two valuable fragments: a chorus which afterwards
figured in _Aureliano in Palmira_, and from which he borrowed the theme
of Almaviva's beautiful solo in _The Barber of Seville_, "Ecco ridente
il cielo;" and the concerted finale which, in the year 1827, found its
way into the French version of _Mosè in Egitto_.

Some forty years after the production of _Ciro in Babilonia_ Rossini
spoke to Ferdinand Hiller (who has recorded the words in his highly
interesting _Conversations with Rossini_) of a poor woman who had only
one good note in her voice, which he accordingly made her repeat while
the melody of the solo given to her in _Ciro_ was played by the
orchestra. So in the French burlesque of _Les Saltimbanques_, an
untaught player of the trombone is introduced, who, being able to play
but one note, is told that that will suffice, and that if he keeps
strictly to it "the lovers of that note will be delighted."



Rossini had already written two operas in 1812, and he was destined in
this fertile year to produce three more: two at Venice, _La Scala di
Seta_ and _L'Occasione fa il Ladro_; and one at Milan, _La Pietra del

_La Pietra del Paragone_ was Rossini's next great success after
_L'Inganno Felice_. The leading parts were assigned to Galli, afterwards
one of the most famous bass-singers of his time, and to Madame
Marcolini, who had played the principal character in _L'Equivoco
Stravagante_, and who had particularly distinguished herself in that
work by her singing of the final rondo before mentioned.

In _La Pietra del Paragone_ Madame Marcolini was furnished with a final
rondo of the pattern already approved, and in this, as in the earlier
one, she gained a most brilliant success.

The libretto of _La Pietra del Paragone_ is founded on an idea at least
as old as that of _Timon of Athens_. Count Asdrubal, surrounded by
friends and beloved by a charming young lady, is rash enough to wish to
know whether the friendship and the love he seems to have inspired are
due to himself and his own personal qualities, or to the riches he is
known to possess. To determine the point he causes a bill of exchange
for a large sum to be presented at his house. He himself appears in
disguise to claim the money; and, in accordance with instructions given
beforehand, the count's steward recognises the signature and honours the
draft. The sum for which the bill has been made out is so large that to
pay it the count's exchequer is absolutely drained. Some few of the
friends stand the test well enough, but others, as might have been
expected, prove insincere. As for the young lady, the "touchstone" has
the effect of bringing out her character in the brightest colours. Timid
by nature, she had hitherto refrained from expressing, except in the
most reserved manner, the love she really entertains for Count Asdrubal.
After his apparent ruin, however, the advances are all from her side;
and she finds herself obliged to resort to all kinds of devices in order
to compel him to a formal declaration. She even feels called upon to
appear--though whether for logical or merely for picturesque reasons can
scarcely at this distant date be decided--in a Hussar uniform; and in
this striking garb Madame Marcolini sang the celebrated final rondo,
saluting the public with her sabre in acknowledgment of their applause,
and repeating the salutes again and again as the applause was renewed.

_La Pietra del Paragone_ is quite unknown to the opera-goers of the
present day. It belongs to the year 1812, and probably no one now living
ever heard it. Many, however, have heard portions of it; for _La Pietra
del Paragone_ not having proved thoroughly successful as a whole, the
composer extracted the best pieces from it and introduced them into _La
Cenerentola_, which, five years later, was represented for the first
time at Rome. The air "Miei rampolli," the duet "Un soave no so chè,"
the drinking chorus, and the baron's burlesque proclamation, were all
borrowed or rather taken once and for ever from the score of _La Pietra
del Paragone_. Some other pieces, too, from the same work were nearly
fifty years later heard at least once in an opera attributed to Rossini
brought out at Paris in the year 1859. It has been said that among
Rossini's operas of the year 1812 were two written for the San Mosè of
Venice. The second of these, _L'Occasione fa il Ladro_, made its
appearance substantially at Naples in conjunction with the pieces just
spoken of, extracted from _La Pietra del Paragone_. An Italian
poetaster, Signor Berettoni, gave to his new arrangement of _L'Occasione
fa il Ladro_ (which, by the way, he had enriched with selections not
only from _La Pietra del Paragone_, but also from _Aureliano in
Palmira_) the title of _Un Curioso Accidente_.

Rossini, however, though he did not mind borrowing from himself, did not
choose to be borrowed from without permission, as without dexterity, by
other persons; and finding that a _pasticcio_ made up of pieces taken
more or less at random from the works of his youth was to be brought out
as a new and original work, he addressed to the manager of the Théâtre
des Italiens, M. Calzado, the following letter on the subject:--

     "_November 11th, 1859._.

     "SIR,--I am told that the bills of your theatre announce a new
     opera by me under this title _Un Curioso Accidente_.

     "I do not know whether I have the right to prevent the
     representation of a production in two acts (more or less) made up
     of old pieces of mine; I have never occupied myself with questions
     of this kind in regard to my works (not one of which, by the way,
     is named _Un Curioso Accidente_). In any case I have not objected
     to, and I do not object to, the representation of _Un Curioso
     Accidente_. But I cannot allow the public invited to your theatre,
     and your subscribers to think either that it is a _new_ opera by me
     or that I took any part in arranging it.

     "I must beg of you then to remove from your bills the word _new_,
     together with my name as author, and to substitute instead the
     following:--'Opera, consisting of pieces by M. Rossini, arranged by
     M. Berettoni.'

     "I request that this alteration may appear in the bills of
     to-morrow, in default of which I shall be obliged to ask from
     justice what I now ask from your good faith.

     "Accept my sincere compliments,

     (Signed)           "GIOACHINO ROSSINI."

On receiving this letter the manager withdrew the well-named _Curioso
Accidente_, in connection with which no accident was more curious than
that of its production. It had already been played once; and at this
single representation much success had been obtained by a trio in the
buffo style for men's voices borrowed from _La Pietra del Paragone_, and
a duet for soprano and contralto from _Aureliano in Palmira_.

It is not so easy as it may at first appear to decide which deserves to
be considered the first of Rossini's operas. The opera or operetta of
_La Cambiale di Matrimonio_ (1810), was the first produced on the stage;
and _L'Inganno Felice_ (1812), was the first which made a marked
impression, and which, played throughout Italy, at Paris, and at Vienna,
gained for its author something like a European reputation. But the
first opera that Rossini ever composed was _Demetrio e Polibio_, which,
written in the spring of 1809 when he was just seventeen years old, was
produced at Rome--though not until it had undergone a process of
retouching--in 1812.

An Italian officer, whom Stendhal met at Como one night when _Demetrio e
Polibio_ was to be represented--or perhaps it was the Abbé Carpani who
met him; in any case the story is to be found in Stendhal's Life of
Rossini--gave this curious account of the Mombelli family, all of whom
were connected in one way or another with the performance of Rossini's
earliest opera.

"The Mombellis Company," he said, "consists of a single family. Of the
two daughters, one, who is always dressed as a man, takes the part of
the musico (or sopranist); that is Marianna. The other one, Esther, who
has a voice of greater extent though less even, less perfectly sweet, is
the prima donna. In _Demetrio e Polibio_ the old Mombelli, who was once
a celebrated tenor takes the part of the King. That of the chief of the
conspirators will be filled by a person called Olivieri, who has long
been attached to Madame Mombelli, the mother, and who, to be useful to
the family, takes utility parts on the stage and acts in the house as
cook and major domo. Without being pretty, the Mombellis have pleasing
faces. But they are ferociously virtuous, and it is supposed that the
father, who is an ambitious man, wishes to get them married."

Madame Mombelli, moreover, had written the libretto, while the old
Mombelli--once a "celebrated tenor" and still "so ambitious" as to wish
to see his daughters legitimately married--had from among his plentiful
reminiscences given Rossini ideas for melodies. Not only did the
company, in the words of Stendhal's officer, consist of a single family;
this family included, moreover, among its members, the composer himself,
who was somehow related to the Mombellis.

From 1812 to 1813 was for Rossini a great step in advance; for during
this latter year were produced _Tancredi_ and _L'Italiana in Algeri_,
works destined within a very short time to find their way all over
Europe. But before producing _Tancredi_, Rossini began the year by
bringing out a little operetta entitled _Il Figlio per Azzardo_.

Rossini caused in his time a great deal of trouble to managers; and if
those with whom he had to deal were for the most part bald, that, he
said, was to be accounted for by his having driven them repeatedly to
tear their hair. Some of the directors suffered from his apparent
laziness, which at most could be called dilatoriness; for that Rossini
was a composer of extraordinary activity is shown by the fact that by
the time he was thirty-seven he had written thirty-seven operas; while,
during the period of his greatest fertility, he frequently produced as
many as four operas in one year. More than once, too, he completed an
opera within a fortnight; but this fortnight was usually the last and
never the first of the space of time assigned to him for the composition
of a given work. Sometimes, however, he was annoyed and worried by
managers without sufficient cause; and in these cases he knew how to
retaliate. The manager of the San Mosè theatre, that Marquis Cavalli who
also directed the theatre of Sinigaglia, and who, as already mentioned,
had given Rossini his first commission, thought that having begun by
writing for the San Mosè, the young composer ought not to work for any
other theatre at Venice. He had engaged, however, to write an opera for
the Fenice, where _Tancredi_ was destined to be brought out; and the
Marquis was so annoyed at this that he treated Rossini on more than one
occasion with absolute incivility. He had supplied him, moreover, with a
libretto so monstrously absurd that it was impossible to treat it
seriously, or even in the spirit of mere comedy. Rossini, however, had
to choose between setting this nonsense to music or paying a fine; and
he preferred the former alternative. The task he now set himself was to
compose to his ridiculous libretto music more ridiculous even than the
words. Tenor music was given to the bass, who, to execute it, had to
shout at the top of his voice. The soprano, on the other hand, had been
furnished with a contralto part, which made demands only upon the lowest
notes of her voice. A singer of notorious-incompetence was provided with
a most difficult air, accompanied _pianissimo_, so that his faults might
at least not be concealed. Another singer, whose burlesque appearance
never failed to throw the house into convulsions, had to sing a
sentimental melody of the most lackadaisical kind. The orchestration was
quite as remarkable as the writing for the voices. One of Rossini's
great merits consists in his having introduced new instruments into the
operatic orchestra of his time; and in scoring _Il Figlio per Azzardo_,
he wrote parts for instruments of percussion never before and probably
never afterwards employed. These were the tin-shades of the candles with
which the desks of the players were furnished, and which, in one
movement, had to be struck at the beginning of each bar. For a time the
public smiled at Rossini's pleasantry, until at last it occurred to some
one that the composer was taking liberties with his audience. Then hoots
and hisses were heard from every part of the theatre, and the end of
Rossini's practical joke was that the practical joker had to rush from
his post at the head of the orchestra and seek safety in flight.



_Tancredi_ was Rossini's first serious opera, and the first opera by
which his name became known throughout Europe. In this work, too, we
find indicated, if not fully carried out, all those changes in the
composition of the lyric drama which, without absolutely inventing them,
he introduced from Germany, and especially from Mozart's operas, into

It seems strange, what was nevertheless the case, that when Rossini
began to write, the mere forms of the lyric drama were, in Italy at
least, far from being looked upon as settled. Opera could not at that
time boast a history of more than about two centuries, and though it had
made great progress during the previous hundred years and was scarcely
the same entertainment as that which the most illustrious nobles in
Italy had taken under their protection in the early part of the
seventeenth century, it was still far from resembling the opera of the
present day; so much more developed, so much more elaborated.

No general view of the progress of operatic art in Europe can well be
taken; for its advance has been different in each country. But its
progress in Italy was sufficiently regular from its birth, or rather its
invention, towards the end of the sixteenth century up to the period of
Scarlatti; and from Scarlatti in a continuous line to Rossini.

Without going back to the origin of music in general, it may not be
inappropriate, in connection with Rossini's innovations, and with a view
to these innovations being better understood, to sketch in the briefest
manner the history of the musical drama in Italy from its deliberate
invention until, after its various developments, it became what Rossini
made it between the years 1813, the year in which _Tancredi_ was brought
out, and 1823, the date of the production of _Semiramide_.

The opera, so far as a natural origin can be claimed for it at all,
proceeds from the sacred musical plays of the fifteenth and sixteenth
centuries, as the modern drama proceeds from the so-called mysteries of
the same period. Indeed the earliest musical dramas of modern Italy,
from which the opera of the present day is directly descended, were
mysteries differing only from the dramatic mysteries in having been
written for the singing, not for the speaking voice. The opera, or drama
in music, is not, compared with the spoken drama, a very ancient form of
art. Persons afflicted with a rage for seeking in the distant past
traces and origins of a form of art which was created and forced into
existence in comparatively modern times, see the first specimens of
opera in the Greek plays; a view which will be worth considering when
writers on the subject of Greek music have come to an understanding as
to its exact nature. One thing is quite certain, that the Greek plays
are remembered solely by what musicians call the "words," whereas, with
the exception of Herr Wagner's highly poetical, highly dramatic works,
there are no operas written to be performed throughout in music, which,
by their words alone, would have the least chance of living. Nor did the
musical mysteries or musical plays of the fifteenth century--which were
partly declaimed, partly sung, and always by solo voices--bear any great
resemblance to the grand operas of the present day with their airs,
duets, concerted pieces, and elaborate dramatic finales, supported by an
orchestra which is always being varied and reinforced through the
addition of new instruments, and in which composers aim constantly at
the formation of new instrumental combinations. Of course, too, the
sacred musical plays of the fifteenth century differed from our modern
operas by their subjects. A primitive sort of opera on the _Conversion
of St. Paul_, which was performed throughout in music at Rome in 1440,
is not the sort of work that would be likely to interest our modern
audiences, who entertain a marked preference for operas in which a
leading part is assigned to the prima donna, and who have no objection
to the prima donna's representing a thoroughly mundane character, such
as the fascinating Carmen, in the late M. Bizet's opera of that name, or
the less fascinating Violetta, in Verdi's _Traviata_.

The first opera on a profane, or rather on a secular subject--for it is
surely a mistake to regard everything not sacred as necessarily
profane--was the descent of Orpheus into the infernal regions, drawn
thither, as is well known, by his wife, Eurydice. The subject of
Orpheus, alike lyrical and dramatic, has been a favourite one with
composers for the last four hundred years, from Poliziano, who produced
his _Orfeo_ at Rome in 1440, up to Gluck, nearly three centuries later,
and from Gluck down to Offenbach, who delights a good many persons in
the present day. The _Orfeo_, which was brought out just four centuries
ago, at Rome, bore no more resemblance, in a musical point of view, to a
modern opera, than did the sacred musical plays before spoken of; and up
to the year 1600 we meet with no musical work which bears more than a
fundamental or general sort of resemblance to the modern opera. But
almost immediately after the production of the second _Eurydice_ a great
reformer appeared. Monteverde, the innovator in question, changed, or at
least gave new development to, the harmonic system of his predecessors,
assigned far greater importance in his operas to accompaniments, and
increased greatly both the number and the variety of the instruments in
the orchestra, which, under his arrangement, included every kind of
instrument known at the time. Monteverde employed a separate combination
of instruments to announce the entry and return of each personage in his
operas; a dramatic means made use of long afterwards by Hoffmann--better
known by his fantastic tales than by his musical works--in his opera of
_Undine_; and which cannot but suggest a similar device employed with
more system and with greater elaboration by Wagner.

Monteverde, like so many of his predecessors and followers, felt
attracted by the story of Orpheus and Eurydice, and his first work was
on the subject of _Orfeo_, which was produced in 1608 at the Court of
Mantua; ordered, it may be, by that gallant but dissolute Duke of Mantua
whom Signor Mario used to impersonate so admirably in _Rigoletto_.
Monteverde's _Orfeo_ contained parts for harpsichords, lyres, violas,
double basses, a double harp with two rows of strings, two violins,
besides guitars, organs, a flute, clarions, and even trombones. It is
interesting to know that, apart from the instrumental combinations which
announced the entry and return of each character, the bass-violas
accompanied Orpheus; the violas, Eurydice; the trombones, Pluto; the
organs, Apollo; while Charon--a most unsentimental personage, one would
think--sang to the accompaniment of that sentimental instrument, the

I have, of course, no intention of following out the history of opera
from Monteverde to Verdi. It will be sufficient to remark that
Monteverde, the real founder of opera in something like its present
form, produced a number of works at Venice, until at last the fame of
the Venetian operas spread throughout Italy, so that by the middle of
the seventeenth century the new entertainment was established at Verona,
Bologna, Rome, Turin, Naples, and Messina. Opera, whatever its merits
and defects, is essentially a royal and aristocratic entertainment. The
drama was started by Thespis in a cart. The opera, on the other hand,
was founded by popes, cardinals, and kings. The first operatic libretto,
that of Poliziano's _Orfeo_, was the work of Cardinal Riario, nephew of
Sixtus IV. Pope Clement IX. was the author of no less than seven
libretti. The popes, indeed, used, in former days, to keep up an
excellent theatre; and even in these degenerate times the taste for
music has not, or had not until lately, died out at the Vatican.

It has been said that the history of opera, though Italy cannot claim to
have been the one scene of its development, can be more conveniently
because more continuously traced in Italy than in the various European
countries where it has been cultivated, and where, in the case of three
of these countries--Italy, Germany, and France,--it has made distinct
advances. Nor, in considering the history of opera in Italy, is it
necessary to observe its progress in Italy generally. It is sufficient
to note the changes through which it passed at Naples alone. From
Scarlatti (end of the seventeenth to the middle of the eighteenth
century) to the immediate predecessors of Rossini, the history of the
development of the opera in Italy is indeed the history of its
development at Naples; and though, unlike previous celebrated composers,
Rossini did not pursue his studies at Naples, he soon made Naples his
head-quarters, and produced at the San Carlo theatre between the years
1815 and 1823 all his best Italian operas in the serious style:
_Otello_, for instance, _La Donna del Lago_ and _Semiramide_.

Scarlatti, the founder of the great Neapolitan school, studied at Rome
under Carrissimi; and he is memorable in musical history as having given
new development to the operatic air, while he introduced for the first
time measured recitative. Of Scarlatti's immediate followers, Logroscino
and Durante, the former introduced concerted pieces and the dramatic
finale which afterwards received new development at the hands of
Piccinni. This important feature to which modern opera owes so much of
its importance and so much of its effect, was introduced into serious
opera by Paisiello. Paisiello, like Scarlatti, Logroscino and Durante,
was professor at the Conservatorio of Naples; and under his guidance
were formed Jomelli, Piccinni, Sacchini, Guglielmi, and Cimarosa. The
particular innovations due to Piccinni and Paisiello have already been
mentioned. Cimarosa composed the best overtures which, up to his time,
the Italian school could boast of, and he was the first to introduce
quartets and other concerted pieces in the midst of dramatic action;
not, that is to say, as ornaments at the end of an act, which hitherto
had been the place conventionally assigned to them, but as integral
parts of the musical drama. This innovation occurs for the first time in
_Il Fanatico per gli antichi Romani_, which Cimarosa composed in 1773.
It was not until nineteen years afterwards that this master produced his
_Matrimonio Segreto_. But meanwhile Cimarosa had been completely
distanced by Mozart, who, himself a great inventor, and, so to say,
anticipator, adopted moreover everything that was worth adopting in the
methods of all his contemporaries and predecessors.

To resume, in as few words as possible, the history of opera in Italy up
to the time of Rossini, this form of art was at first nothing but
recitative, or recitative with a chorus at the end of each act. Then
occasional airs were introduced, then duets; and it is not until the
middle of the eighteenth century that we find an example of an operatic
trio. Quartets and dramatic finales followed in due course; and while
the Italians had been developing new methods of employing the solo
voices, Gluck had given prominence to the chorus as a dramatic factor,
and had cultivated choral writing with the happiest effect. Other
Germans, with Haydn foremost among them, had produced new orchestral
combinations, until at last Mozart joined to the vocal forms of the
Italians the instrumental forms of the Germans, while developing and
perfecting both. Rossini introduced quite gradually into Italian opera
those reforms which are particularly associated with his name; and
perhaps in no other way could he have got them accepted. But he might,
had he felt so disposed, have borrowed them one and all in a piece from
the works of Mozart.

Let it be remembered, however, as a matter of fact, that when in 1813
Rossini produced _Tancredi_, which marks the commencement of the reforms
introduced by him into serious opera, he had enjoyed no opportunity of
seeing any of Mozart's works on the stage. Probably he had studied the
music of Mozart, as we know him to have studied that of Haydn, in score;
but it was not until 1814 that _Don Giovanni_, nor until 1815 that the
_Marriage of Figaro_, was performed for the first time in Italy at the
Scala theatre.

Rossini's success, due above all to the fascinating character of his
easily appreciable melodies, was instantaneous; and it spread like
wild-fire from Italy all over Europe. More than a quarter of a century,
however, passed before Mozart's great works made their way from Vienna
to the chief cities of Italy, and to the capitals of France and England.
This tardy recognition of Mozart's dramatic genius may be explained in
part by the outbreak of the French revolution soon after their
production, and by the wars which distracted Europe from the time of the
French revolution until the pacification of 1815.



_Tancredi_, composed a year after _La Pietra del Paragone_, was
Rossini's first serious opera. It was also the first opera by which he
became known throughout Europe.

To amateurs of the present day its melodies appear of old-fashioned, or
at least of antique cast. The recitatives seem long, and they are
interminable compared with those by which Verdi connects his musical
pieces. But when _Tancredi_ was first brought out _opera seria_
consisted almost entirely of recitative, relieved here and there and
only at long intervals by solo airs. For much of this declamation
Rossini substituted singing; for endless monologues and dialogues
supported by a few chords, concerted pieces connected and supported by a
brilliant orchestral accompaniment.

Rossini, in fact, introduced into serious opera the forms which comic
opera already possessed. The parts were at that time differently
distributed in _opera seria_ and _opera buffa_; and in the latter less
restricted style the bass singer was not as a matter of course kept in
the background. _Tancredi_ was the first serious opera in which a
certain prominence was given to the bass, though it was not until some
years later--in _Otello_, 1816, in _La Gazza Ladra_, 1817, and in
_Mosè_, 1818--that Rossini ventured to entrust bass singers with leading
parts. _Opera seria_, when Rossini was beginning his career, was
governed by rules as strict, as formal, and as thoroughly conventional
as those which gave so much artificiality and so much dulness to the
classical drama of France. The company for comic opera consisted of the
_primo buffo_ (tenor), _prima buffa_, _buffo caricato_ (bass), _seconda
buffa_, and _ultima parte_ (bass). The company for serious opera was
made up of the _primo uomo_ (soprano), _prima donna_, and tenor, the
_secondo uomo_ (soprano), _seconda donna_, and _ultima parte_ (bass);
and in serious opera the _ultima parte_ was not only kept in the
background, but, except in concerted pieces, was scarcely ever heard.

As a solo singer, the bass in serious opera had no existence. Gradually
Rossini brought him forward, until he became at last as prominent as the
tenor, or even more so. In _Semiramide_, for instance, the principal
male character is Assur. In _Tancredi_, from which _Semiramide_ is
separated by an interval of ten years, the bass has little to do. He
already, however, possesses an importance which was denied to him in the
serious operas of Rossini's predecessors.

In _Tancredi_, again, the composer introduces concerted pieces in
situations where, had the ancient method been followed, there would
have been only monologues. In these concerted pieces, moreover, the
dramatic action is kept up, whereas the endless monologues and long
sequences of airs which gave such character as they possessed to the
operas of Rossini's immediate predecessors had the effect of delaying
it. To musical reformers of a later period Rossini himself seemed to
insert songs in his operas merely for the sake of singing, and greatly
to the injury of the drama. But he diminished considerably the number of
formal airs which, until he began to write, were included as a matter of
course in every opera. He increased the number of characters, and made,
for the first time in Italian opera, a free use of the chorus, which in
the works of the old school plays quite a subordinate part and has no
dramatic functions assigned to it at all.

Rossini's innovations are well described by Lord Mount-Edgcumbe, who has
no praise, however, to bestow upon them, but on the contrary, condemns
them without measure. Indeed, the more he blames Rossini, the more he
calls attention to what are now recognised as his chief merits. When
Lord Mount-Edgcumbe undertakes to show how Rossini was ruining the
musical drama, he in fact points out how he was reforming it. "So great
a change," he writes, "has taken place in the character of the
(operatic) dramas, in the style of the music and its performance, that I
cannot help enlarging upon that subject before we proceed further. One
of the most material alterations is that the grand distinction between
serious and comic operas is nearly at an end, the separation of the
singers for their performances entirely so. Not only do the same sing
in both, but a new species of drama has arisen, a kind of mongrel
between them, called _semi-seria_, which bears the same analogy to the
other two that the nondescript melodrama does to the legitimate tragedy
and comedy of the English stage. The construction of these newly
invented pieces," continues Lord Mount-Edgcumbe, "is essentially
different from the old. The dialogue, which used to be carried on in
recitative, and which in Metastasio's operas is often so beautiful and
interesting, is now cut up (and rendered unintelligible if it were worth
listening to) into _pezzi concertati_, or long singing conversations,
which present a tedious succession of unconnected, ever-changing
_motivos_, having nothing to do with each other; and if a satisfactory
air is for a moment introduced, which the ear would like to dwell upon,
to hear modulated, varied, and again returned to, it is broken off,
before it is well understood, by a sudden transition into a totally
different melody, time, and key, and recurs no more, so that no
impression can be made or recollection of it preserved. Single songs are
almost exploded ... even the prima donna, who would formerly have
complained at having less than three or four airs allotted to her, is
now satisfied with one trifling _cavatina_ for a whole opera."

In his valuable attack upon Rossini, Lord Mount-Edgcumbe is admirably
sincere. After condemning Rossini for his new distribution of
characters, and for his employment of bass voices in leading parts, "to
the manifest injury of melody and total subversion of harmony, in which
the lowest part is their peculiar province," he calls attention to the
fact that Mozart has previously sinned in like manner; and he cannot
help expressing some astonishment when he reflects "that the principal
characters in two of Mozart's operas have been written for basses." It
might have occurred to him, moreover, that Mozart, both in _Don
Giovanni_ and in the _Magic Flute_, united the serious with the comic,
and, indeed, that there was not one of the so-called innovations charged
against Rossini, which were not in reality due to Mozart. In Italy,
where Mozart's works were at the time unknown, Rossini may well have
appeared a perfectly original genius, not only by his richness of
melodic invention, but also by the novelty of his forms. But it is
strange that an amateur, acquainted, as Lord Mount-Edgcumbe was, with
the works of Mozart, should not at once have perceived that Rossini, in
introducing so much which was new only to the Italians, was making no
bold experiment, but was merely following in the wake of a greater
inventor than himself.

The success, however, of Rossini's first serious opera was due less to
new methods of distributing parts and of constructing pieces than to the
beauty of the melodies. Stendhal, in his always ingenious but seldom
quite veracious _Vie de Rossini_, dwells on the sort of fever with which
its tuneful themes inspired the whole Venetian population, so that even
in the law-courts the judges, he relates, were obliged to direct the
ushers to stop the singing of "Di tanti palpiti" and "Mi rivedrai ti
rivedrò." "I thought that after hearing my opera," wrote Rossini
himself, "the Venetians would think me mad. Not at all: I found they
were much madder than I was."

"It is said at Venice," writes Stendhal, "that the first idea of this
delicious _cantilena_, which expresses so well the joy of meeting after
a long absence, is taken from a Greek litany; Rossini had heard it a few
days before at vespers in the church of one of the little islands of the
lagoons of Venice."

"Since its production," says M. Azevedo, "on the stage and in the
universe, it has been made the subject of a canticle for the Catholic
Church, like all other successful airs. But a litany before the air, and
a canticle after the air, are not the same thing."

In connection with _Tancredi_, mention has been made of Rossini's
reforms in serious opera, which he found too serious. Comic opera, on
the other hand, as it existed up to his time, seemed to him too comic or
rather, too extravagant. We have seen that the old _opera buffa_ had its
separate set of characters and singers, and its own separate style,
musical as well as dramatic. Rossini raised the level of the style, and
for farce substituted comedy. In the midst, too, of comedy airs, he
introduced, from time to time, a sentimental one such as "Ecco ridente"
in _Il Barbiere_, and "Languir per una bella," in _L'Italiana in
Algeri_--which Rossini brought out at Milan (1813) soon after the
production of _Tancredi_ at Venice, and which holds among his comic
operas the same position that belongs to _Tancredi_ among his serious

Italian audiences had been trained to disapprove of the same singer
appearing one night in a comic and the next in a tragic part; and
critical hearers are said to have been shocked at seeing the same artist
appear successively as Figaro and as Assur, as Dr. Bartolo and as Mosè.
Apart from the substitution of the comic for the farcical in the general
treatment, _L'Italiana in Algeri_ is remarkable as the first comic opera
in which Rossini introduced that _crescendo_, which was soon recognised
as a characteristic feature in all his works. He had already tested its
effect in the overture to _Tancredi_--the first Italian overture which
became popular apart from the work to which it belonged--and in the
concerted _finale_ of the same opera. Rossini is said to have borrowed
this effect from Paisiello's _Re Teodoro_. But the invention of the
_crescendo_ was energetically claimed by Mosca, who had certainly
employed it before Rossini, and who regarded it as his own private
property; circulating, in order to establish his prior right, copies of
a piece composed long before _Tancredi_ was brought out, in which fully
developed _crescendi_ occurred. This did not prevent Rossini from
continuing to write _crescendi_, nor from being satirised and
caricatured as "Signor Crescendo," when, some ten years afterwards, he
went to Paris.



The year after the production of _Tancredi_, Rossini, in 1814, brought
out _Aureliano_, which was not successful. It contained, however, at
least one piece of music which the composer, with due regard to
economy, was determined not to waste. This was the introduction itself,
borrowed from _Ciro in Babilonia_, which, when Rossini afterwards
adapted its melody to words written for Count Almaviva in the _Barber of
Seville_, obtained lasting success in the form of the charming cavatina
"Ecco ridente il cielo."

The overture, moreover, to _Aureliano in Palmira_, after serving as
instrumental introduction to _Elisabetta_, produced a year later at
Naples, found ultimately a permanent position as musical preface to the
_Barber of Seville_. The failure of _Aureliano in Palmira_, which
Rossini attributed in a great measure to the liberties taken with the
music by at least one of the performers, caused him to adopt the
practice of writing for the singers the very notes he intended them to
sing. Strange innovation! But, until Rossini's time, the vocalists were
really the composer's masters, and regarded his airs merely as so much
canvas for embroidery.

To Rossini belongs the honour of having helped greatly to expel the
sopranists from the operatic stage. The Church, with a view to soprano
voices in choirs, from which women were excluded, had introduced them;
and ultimately the Church pronounced against them. But nothing could
have had a greater effect in putting them down than Rossini's absolute
refusal to write for them, or to allow them to sing in those of his
operas performed under his direct superintendence.

The circumstances under which Rossini broke with the most celebrated
sopranist of his time--that Velluti, whom a wit described as "_non vir
sed veluti_"--are worth relating. Rossini had written for this
personage a part in his _Aureliano in Palmira_ (1814), the most
celebrated of his very few failures; and the composer soon found that
the singer had no respect for his music, which he treated as so much
substance for elaboration and pretended adornment; while the singer
discovered that the composer was so narrow-minded as to require his
melodies to be sung as he had thought fit to write them. In those days
dramatic propriety and music itself were sacrificed to the vocalists,
who, far from studying parts, do not seem, in any true spirit, to have
mastered airs. We read of singers having been kept to scales and
passages for years at a time; and every one who takes an interest in
musical history must remember the burlesque exclamation of Porpora, who,
when Caffarelli had practised nothing but exercises with him for no less
than five years, cried out: "You have nothing more to learn! Caffarelli
is the first singer in the world!"

_Aureliano_ was not played after the first night: and Rossini had the
satisfaction of hearing that though his opera had failed, Velluti had
made a brilliant success in the principal part. Velluti had, in fact,
astonished and delighted the public by his vocal gymnastics. But it was
not Rossini's music, it was really his own music, suggested by
Rossini's, that he had sung.

Unable--perhaps even unwilling--to run altogether counter to the
prevailing taste, Rossini continued to write highly florid music. But he
supplied his own decorations, and made them so elaborate that the most
skilful adorner would have found it difficult to add to them.

Writing for a French public Rossini showed, in _William Tell_, that he
was as much a master of the simple dramatic style in which the singer
has not to display vocal agility, but to express human emotion, as he
was already known to be of the highly decorative style admired by the
Italians. "Rossini," says Stendhal, in his interesting account of the
first representation of _Aureliano in Palmira_, which he claims to have
witnessed, "followed in his first works the style of his predecessors.
He respected the voices, and only thought of bringing about the triumph
of singing. Such is the system in which he composed _Demetrio e
Polibio_, _L'Inganno felice_, _La Pietra del Paragone_, _Tancredi_, &c.
Rossini had found La Marcolini, La Malanotte, La Manfredini, the
Mombelli family, why should he not endeavour to give prominence to the
singing--he who is such a good singer, and who when he sits down to the
piano to sing one of his own airs, seems to transform the genius we know
him to possess as a composer into that of a singer? The fact is, a
little event took place which at once changed the composer's views....
Rossini arrived at Milan in 1814, to write _Aureliano in Palmira_. There
he met with Velluti, who was to sing in his opera; Velluti, then in the
flower of his youth and talent, one of the best-looking men of his time,
and much given to abuse his prodigious resources. Rossini had never
heard this singer. He wrote a cavatina for him. At the first rehearsal,
with full orchestra, he heard Velluti sing it, and was struck with
admiration. At the second rehearsal Velluti began to embroider
(_fiorire_). Rossini found some of his effects admirable, and still
approved; but at the third rehearsal, the richness of the embroidery was
such that it quite concealed the body of the air. At last the grand day
of the first representation arrived. The cavatina, and all Velluti's
part, was enthusiastically applauded; but Rossini could scarcely
recognise what Velluti was singing; he did not know his own music.
However, Velluti's singing was very beautiful and wonderfully successful
with the public, which, after all, does no wrong in applauding what
gives it so much pleasure. The pride of the young composer was deeply
wounded; the opera failed, and the sopranist alone succeeded. Rossini's
lively perception saw at once all that such an event could suggest. 'It
is by a fortunate accident,' he said to himself, 'that Velluti happens
to be a singer of taste, but how am I to know that at the next theatre I
write for I shall not find another singer, who, with a flexible throat
and an equal mania for _fioriture_, will not spoil my music so as to
render it not only unrecognisable to me, but also wearisome to the
public, or at least remarkable only for some details of execution? The
danger to my unfortunate music is the more imminent, insomuch as there
are no more singing schools in Italy. The theatres are full of artists
who have picked up music from singing-masters about the country. This
style of singing violin concertos, endless variations, will not only
destroy all talent for singing, but will also vitiate the public taste.
All the singers will be imitating Velluti, each according to his means.
We shall have no more cantilenas; they would be thought poor and cold.
Everything will undergo a change, even to the nature of the voices,
which, once accustomed to embroider and overlay a cantilena with
elaborate ornaments, will soon lose the habit of singing sustained
_legato_ passages, and be unable to execute them. I must change my
system then. I know how to sing; every one acknowledges that I possess
that talent; my _fioriture_ will be in good taste; moreover, I shall
discover at once the strong and weak points of my singers, and shall
only write for them what they will be able to execute. I will not leave
them a place for adding the least _apoggiatura_. The _fioriture_, the
ornaments, must form an integral part of the air, and be all written in
the score.'"

The sopranists might, at an earlier period, have been sent with
advantage to Berlin, where, as Dr. Burney tells us, Frederick the Great,
taking up his position in the pit of his opera-house immediately behind
the conductor of the orchestra, on whose score he kept his eye, would
never allow a singer to alter a single passage in his part. The
conductor's authority does not seem to have been sufficient, for,
according to Burney, it was the king who, when the vocalist took
liberties with the score, called upon him to keep to the notes as
written by the composer. "The sopranists," says M. Castil-Blaze,[2]
"were at all times extremely insolent. They forced the greatest masters
to conform to their caprices. They changed, transformed everything to
suit their own vanity. They would insist on having an air or a duet
placed in such a scene, written in such a style, with such an
accompaniment. They were the kings, the tyrants of theatres, managers,
and composers; that is why, in the most serious works of the greatest
masters of the last century, there occur long cold passages of
vocalisation which had been exacted by the sopranists for the sake of
exhibiting, in a striking manner, the agility and power of their
throats. 'You will be kind enough to sing my music and not yours,' said
the venerable and formidable Guglielmi, to a certain _virtuoso_,
threatening him at the same time with his sword. In fact the vocal
music, and the whole Italian lyrical system of the eighteenth century,
was much more the work of the singers than of the composers."

After the production of _Aureliano in Palmira_, Rossini for about
eighteen months was comparatively idle; for during this period he only
produced two operas, _Il Turco in Italia_, and _Sigismondo_, of which
the former has long ceased to-be played, while the latter was never at
any time much performed. _Il Turco in Italia_ was a pendant to
_L'Italiana in Algeri_, but it obtained no greater amount of public
favour than continuations usually meet with. The hero of the work was
supposed to have been wrecked on the Italian coast, and a like fate
awaited the work itself. Rossini, according to his custom, saved what he
could from the wreck, and the overture to the _Turk in Italy_ was, some
years later, when _Otello_ was brought out, made to do duty as
introduction to the story of the Moor of Venice.

As for _Sigismondo_, the story of its failure was graphically recorded
by Rossini himself; who, writing to his mother the same night, enclosed
her the outline of a small bottle or fiasco.

Rossini's increasing fame had, among other effects, that of making him
visit all the principal cities in Italy. As in his youth he had moved
about in his character of conductor from one little town in the Romagna
to another, so now, when he had attained his full powers, he was called
upon to travel from Bologna to Venice, from Venice to Milan, from Milan
to Naples, from Naples to Rome. The two leading theatres of the
Peninsula were then, as now, the San Carlo of Naples, and the Scala of
Milan. The former received a subvention of 12,000_l_. from the King of
Naples, the latter one of 8,000_l_. from the Emperor of Austria. These
opera-houses, at that time the first in the world, received additional
support from public gambling saloons adjoining them; and it was as a
waiter at one of these auxiliary establishments that Barbaja, the most
illustrious impresario of his own or of any other time--Barbaja, who is
mentioned in one of Balzac's novels, and introduced by Scribe in his
libretto of _La Sirène_--commenced his career. Besides the cities
already named, Turin, Florence, Bergamo, Genoa, Leghorn, Sienna,
Ferrara, had all their opera-houses; some of which were supported by
state grants, others by grants from the municipality. Occasionally, too,
the necessary operatic subvention was furnished by some local magnate,
who either made a liberal donation or constituted himself director of
the theatre. The chief towns maintained several opera-houses. There were
three at Venice--the Fenice, the San Benedetto, and the San Mosè; and
five at Rome--the Argentina, the Valle, the Apollo, the Alberto, and the
Tordinona. Next to San Carlo and La Scala ranked the Fenice, and next
to the Fenice the Court Theatre of Turin where, inasmuch as it formed
part of the king's palace, it was considered 'disrespectful to appear in
a cloak, disrespectful to laugh, and disrespectful to applaud till the
queen had applauded.'

From 1815 to 1823 Rossini wrote principally for Naples. But we have seen
that he also worked for Bologna, Venice, and Milan; and he composed for
the opera-houses of Rome, _Il Barbiere_, brought out at the Argentina
Theatre, _La Cenerentola_, produced at the Valle Theatre, and _Matilda
di Sabran_, performed for the first time at the Apollo Theatre. At the
Fenice of Venice, Rossini's first opera in the serious style, _Tancredi_
(1813), and also his last in that style, _Semiramide_ (1823), were
produced. For the Court Theatre of Turin Rossini wrote nothing.

Each of the great Italian opera-houses made a point of bringing out at
least two new operas every year; and as the minor theatres were also
frequently supplied with new works there was no lack of opportunity for
composers anxious to place themselves before the public. The composers
were not liberally paid by managers--40_l_. was considered a fair price
for an opera; while from the publishers they received absolutely nothing
for the right of engraving. It has already been mentioned that Rossini
never troubled himself about the publication of his works, and that he
profited by the fact of their not having been engraved to borrow from
his failures pieces which, had the scores been before the public, he
must have hesitated to re-adopt.

The operas of that day were in two acts; a division which, when the
subject was an important one, scarcely conduced to the maintenance of
dramatic interest. It was the custom of the time, however, to separate
these two acts by a ballet; and thus kept apart they were not found so
long, so interminable, as, performed one after the other without a
break, our modern audiences would find them.



Barbaja, the ex-waiter at the Ridotto of the San Carlo Theatre, was
director of the San Carlo itself, and almost at the height of his glory,
which Rossini was so much to increase, when _Tancredi_ was brought out
at Venice and _L'Italiana in Algeri_ at Milan.

The year following was not for Rossini a very brilliant one; and neither
_Aureliano in Palmira_, nor a cantata called _Egle e Irene_, written for
the Princess Belgiojoso, nor _Il Turco in Italia_--all of the year
1814--did much to increase his reputation. But the success of _Tancredi_
and of _L'Italiana in Algeri_ was enough for Barbaja, who accordingly
invited Rossini in 1814 to come to Naples and compose something for the
San Carlo. On his arrival Rossini signed a contract with Barbaja for
several years; binding himself to write two new operas annually, and to
re-arrange the music of any old works the manager might wish to
produce, either at his principal theatre or at the second Neapolitan
opera-house, the Teatro del Fondo, of which also Barbaja was lessee.
Rossini's emoluments were to be 40_l._ (200 ducats) a month with a share
in the profits of the gambling saloon. Such an engagement would not seem
very magnificent to a second or third rate composer of our own time. But
it was better than 40_l._ an opera, at which rate Rossini had hitherto
been paid. Provided, moreover, that he supplied Barbaja with his two new
operas every year he was at liberty to write for other managers.

In the present day it is not uncommon to find an operatic manager of
enterprise directing two lyrical theatres in two different countries.
Mr. Lumley was manager at the same time of Her Majesty's Theatre in
London and of the Théâtre des Italiens in Paris. The late Mr. Gye
entered into an arrangement (which however was not carried out) for
directing the Imperial Opera House of St. Petersburg, while he was at
the same time managing the Royal Italian Opera of London. Mr. Mapleson
directs simultaneously Her Majesty's Theatre in London, and the Italian
Opera which he has recently established at the so-called Academy of
Music in New York. But these feats are nothing compared with the
performances of Barbaja in the managerial line. It is much easier at the
present time to get from London to New York or from London to St.
Petersburg, than it was in the days of Barbaja to move from Naples or
even from Milan to Vienna; and a manager must have possessed great
administrative ability who could direct three operatic enterprises in
three different capitals at the same time.

Barbaja had in his employment all the great composers and all the best
singers of his native Italy. So numerous was his company that he
scarcely knew who did and who did not belong to it; and a story is told
of his meeting one day a singer of some celebrity, and offering him an
engagement--when, to his consternation and horror, the vocalist informed
him that he had been drawing a regular salary from the theatre for the
last three months. "Go to Donizetti," cried Barbaja, "and tell him to
give you a part without a moment's delay."

On one occasion Donizetti, engaged at that time as accompanist at the
Scala Theatre, had been requested to try the voice of a lady who had
come to Barbaja with a letter of recommendation. Donizetti asked her to
go through a few exercises in solfeggio; on which Barbaja, mistaking
_do_, _re_, _mi_, &c., for the words of some outlandish tongue,
exclaimed that it would be useless to sing in a foreign language, and
that the postulant for an engagement had better carry her talents
elsewhere. Another time, when a favourite vocalist complained that the
piano, to whose accompaniment she had been rehearsing her part, was too
high, Barbaja at once promised that before the next rehearsal he would
have it lowered. The following morning the instrument was, as before,
half a note above the requisite pitch. It was pointed out to Barbaja
that the piano still wanted lowering; upon which he flew into a violent
passion and, summoning one of the stage carpenters, asked him why, when
he had been told that the piano was too high, he had not shortened it
by two or three inches instead of doing so only by one.

When his singers were genuinely successful he would take their part
under all circumstances, and defend them against every attack. A popular
prima donna told him one day, on arriving at the San Carlo Theatre,
whither she had been borne in a sedan-chair, that one of the carriers
had been very negligent in his duty, and had allowed her several times
to be bumped on the ground. Barbaja called the porters to his room and,
giving each a box on the ears, exclaimed, "Which of you two brutes was
in fault?"

For the sake of teasing Barbaja, a few of the subscribers to the Scala
Theatre agreed one night to hiss Rubini in one of his best parts.
Barbaja, perfectly aghast, looked from his box, shook his fist at the
seeming malcontents, and, alike indignant and enthusiastic, called out
to the universally-admired tenor: "Bravo, Rubini, never mind those pigs!
It is I who pay you, and I am delighted with your singing."

In spite of his long-continued success, Barbaja ended, like so many
managers, by failing; and but that he stood well with the Austrian
Government, who gave him a contract for building barracks at Milan, he
might have died in poverty. There is nothing, however, to show that his
collapse was due to ignorance of music. It would be probably nearer the
truth to attribute it to that loss of energy and tact by which advancing
years are generally accompanied.

Among the _prime donne_ of the San Carlo Theatre Barbaja's favourite, in
the fullest sense of the word, was Mademoiselle Colbran, who, after
studying under Crescentini and Marinelli, made her first appearance with
brilliant success at Paris in 1801. She was then but sixteen years of
age, having been born at Madrid in 1785. When Rossini, then, first met
her at Naples in 1815, she was already thirty. Her voice began to
deteriorate soon afterwards, if we are to believe Stendhal--who, much as
he had in common with the Abbé Carpani (including nearly the whole of
the materials for his _Life of Rossini_), did not share that writer's
admiration for a singer whom it was the fashion for royalists to laud,
for republicans to decry. Stendhal, though he feared that opera,
accustomed to subventions and to patronage of all kinds, could not
flourish under republican institutions, was nevertheless inclined
towards republicanism.

Mademoiselle Colbran has been described as a great beauty in the queenly
style--dark hair, brilliant eyes, imposing demeanour; and though
Stendhal is under the impression that her voice began to fall off soon
after Rossini's arrival at Naples, it seems certain that she must have
preserved it in all its beauty until long afterwards. Rossini in any
case wrote for her many of his best parts which, had they not been
perfectly sung, could scarcely have met with the success they actually
obtained. Among these parts may be mentioned in particular those of
Desdemona, Elcia in _Mosè in Egitto_, Elena in _La Donna del Lago_,
Zelmira in the opera of that name, and Semiramide. The artistic merits
of Mademoiselle Colbran were, however, as has already been mentioned,
discussed habitually from a political point of view. Revolutionists
hissed her because the king admired her, while royalists were ready
under all circumstances to applaud her. The first part which Rossini
composed for Mademoiselle Colbran, his future wife, was that of
_Elisabetta_ in the opera of the same name; a work founded on Scott's
novel of _Kenilworth_, and written appropriately enough by a certain
Signor Smith. Smith's knowledge of the English language seems, in spite
of his name, to have been imperfect; for, instead of taking his story
direct from the original, he borrowed it in an adapted shape from a
French melodrama.

The Neapolitans, up to this time, had not heard a note of Rossini's
music. He had conquered the hearts of the Venetians and the Milanese.
But he was unknown at Naples; and not to have earned the applause of the
Neapolitan public was not to have achieved an Italian reputation. The
connoisseurs of Naples were by no means disposed to accept Rossini on
the strength of the success he had achieved at Milan and Venice; while
the professors of the famous Conservatorio, whose classes he had not
followed, were incredulous as to his being a composer of any sound
musical learning, and were quite prepared to find him a much overrated

Rossini began by playing a trick on the Neapolitan audience; for in lieu
of an original composition, he prefaced _Elisabetta_ with an overture
which he had written the year before at Milan for _Aureliano in
Palmira_--and which he was to offer to the Romans a year afterwards as
overture to _Il Barbiere_. The Neapolitans were delighted with the
overture; but it has been surmised that had they known it to have been
originally composed for an opera which had failed at Milan, they would
not, perhaps, have applauded it so much. The first piece in the opera
was, as Stendhal tells us, a duet for Leicester and his young wife, in
the minor, which, says Stendhal, was "very original." The finale to the
first act, in which the leading motives of the overture were introduced,
called forth enthusiastic applause. "All the emotions of serious opera
with no tedious intervals between:" such, Stendhal (or Carpani) informs
us, was the phrase in which the general verdict of the Neapolitan public
was expressed. Mademoiselle Colbran's greatest success, however, was not
achieved until the second act where, on the rising of the curtain,
Elisabetta, attired in an historical costume--warranted authentic and
ordered expressly from London by a fanatical English admirer--had a
grand scena. The concerted finale to this act was another triumph both
for the composer and for the singers.

_Elisabetta_ made but little mark beyond the frontiers of Italy. It
contains much beautiful music; but the distribution of characters is not
all that could be desired. Thus the parts of Norfolk, and of Leicester,
are both given to tenors; though Norfolk as a wicked personage should
have been represented by a baritone or bass. The bass singer, however,
was still kept in the background; and at the San Carlo, though there
were three admirable tenors--Davide, Nozzari, and Garcia,--there was no
bass singer capable of taking a leading part. But for Rossini the bass
singer might have remained indefinitely in obscurity. Gradually,
however, he was brought to the front, not only in comic operas, where
the Italians already tolerated him, but also in serious operas like
_Otello_ and _Semiramide_, and in half-character works such as
_Cenerentola_ and _La Gazza Ladra_. _Elisabetta_ was the first Italian
opera in which recitative was accompanied by the stringed quartet in
place of the double bass and piano previously employed.

Rossini had plenty of work to do at Naples, for, besides composing two
new operas every year he had to transpose parts and to correct and
complete operatic scores. But in addition to all this he found time to
write two works for Rome, which were produced in 1816, during the
carnival. One of these, _Torvaldo e Dorliska_, was brought out at the
Teatro Valle where it met with so little success that the composer
informed his mother of the fact by sending her the drawing, not this
time of a full-sized _fiasco_, but of a small _fiasco_ or _fiaschetto_.
_Torvaldo e Dorliska_, in which the principal parts were written for
Remorini and Galli, the two best bass singers of their time, and for
Donzelli, the celebrated tenor, must in spite of its failure have
possessed some merit. It was performed at Paris in 1825 for the first
appearance of Mademoiselle Garcia, the future Malibran; and Rossini
borrowed from it the motive of the admirable letter duet in _Otello_.



_Torvaldo e Dorliska_ was followed, after but a short interval, by _Il
Barbiere_, for which a contract was signed the very day, Dec. 26, on
which _Torvaldo_ was brought out. The contract was in the following

"_Nobil Teatro di Torre Argentina_, Dec. 26th, 1815.

"By the present act, drawn up privately between the parties, the value
of which is not thereby diminished, and according to the conditions
consented to by them, it has been stipulated as follows:--

"Signor Puca Sforza Cesarini, manager of the above-named theatre,
engages Signor Maestro Gioachino Rossini for the next carnival season of
the year 1816; and the said Rossini promises and binds himself to
compose and produce on the stage, the second comic drama to be
represented in the said season at the theatre indicated, and to the
libretto which shall be given to him by the said manager, whether this
libretto be old or new. The Maestro Rossini engages himself to deliver
his score in the middle of the month of January, and to adapt it to the
voices of the singers; obliging himself, moreover, to make, if
necessary, all the changes which may be required, as much for the good
execution of the music as to suit the capabilities or exigencies of the

"The Maestro Rossini also promises and binds himself to be at Rome and
to fulfil his engagement not later than the end of December of the
current year, and to deliver to the copyist the first act of his opera,
quite complete, on the 20th January, 1816. The 20th January is mentioned
in order that the partial and general rehearsals may be commenced at
once, and that the piece may be brought out the day the director wishes,
the date of the first representation being hereby fixed for about the
5th of February. And the Maestro Rossini shall also deliver to the
copyist, at the time wished, his second act, so that there may be time
to make arrangements, and to terminate the rehearsals soon enough to go
before the public on the evening mentioned above; otherwise the Maestro
Rossini will expose himself to all losses, because so it must be and not

"The Maestro Rossini shall, moreover, be obliged to direct his opera
according to the custom, and to assist personally at all the vocal and
orchestral rehearsals as many times as it shall be necessary, either at
the theatre or elsewhere, at the will of the director; he obliges
himself also to assist at the three first representations, to be given
consecutively, and to direct the execution at the piano; and that
because so it must be, and not otherwise. In reward for his fatigues the
director engages to pay to the Maestro Rossini the sum and quantity of
400 Roman scudi, as soon as the first three representations which he is
to direct at the piano shall be terminated.

"It is also agreed that in case of the piece being forbidden, or the
theatre closed by the act of the authority, or for any unforeseen
reason, the habitual practice in such cases, at the theatres of Rome and
of all other countries shall be observed.

"And to guarantee the complete execution of this agreement, it shall be
signed by the manager, and also by the Maestro Gioachino Rossini; and,
in addition, the said manager grants lodgings to the Maestro Rossini
during the term of the agreement, in the same house that is assigned to
Signor Luigi Zamboni."

It is not certain, however, that Rossini received as much as 400 scudi
(about 80_l._) for his _Barber_, for Rossini, consulted long afterwards
as to the correctness of the figures given in the contract, said he was
under the impression that he had only received 300 scudi, or about
60_l._[3] For the copyright of the music he received not a farthing. He
did not even take the trouble to get it engraved; and two of the pieces,
the overture (for which the overture to _Elisabetta_, previously known
as the overture to _Aureliano in Palmira_, was afterwards substituted)
and the scene of the music lesson (which Rossini had treated as a trio
for the music-master, his pupil, and the pupil's guardian), were somehow
lost in the theatre.

What the manager, on his side, purchased from Rossini, was the right of
representation for two years; after which the work might be played by
any one, as it might from the first moment be engraved by any one,
without payment of any kind. The manuscript could not naturally find its
way into the publisher's hands without the composer's consent. But as a
matter of custom composers received nothing from the publishers. In
England, curiously enough, operatic composers have hitherto, with
scarcely an exception, looked exclusively to the publishers for their
profits, and have received nothing from the managers. The
representation, according to the English view, serves to advertise the
work, and to cause a demand at the music shops for the principal pieces.
In Italy the engraved music did not apparently find many purchasers. The
public cared above all things to hear the music executed on the stage;
and with a view to the gratification of this desire the directors found
it necessary to provide them constantly with new works, which they
moreover found it necessary to order and to pay for.

The manager of the Argentina Theatre had experienced some trouble in
procuring a suitable subject for the libretto he wished Rossini to set.
The censorship was exercised with great severity, or rather with great
scrupulosity, by the so-called Patriarch of Constantinople--_Patriarchus
in partibus infidelium_ and if, instead of Beaumarchais' _Barber of
Seville_, Cesarini had proposed the same author's _Marriage of Figaro_,
it is tolerably certain that the Patriarch would have refused to license
so revolutionary a drama. When the politically harmless _Barber of
Seville_ was suggested, the censor at once approved. But it was now for
Rossini to hesitate. To object, he had by the terms of his agreement no
right; since he had undertaken to set any libretto that might be given
to him, "new or old." The masters of the eighteenth century accepted
readily for their operas themes which had been treated again and again,
and even actual libretti to which, several times over, music had been
composed. Almost every composer, for instance, had tried his hand on
Dido Abandoned, or on the Descent of Orpheus into the Infernal Regions;
and we have seen that the story of Dido and the story of Orpheus were
both treated by Rossini in his early days. Rossini, however, had now
ideas of his own on the subject of musical setting, on the subject of
dramatic propriety, and probably also on that of the propriety of taking
for his theme one that had already been dealt with very successfully by
a composer of high repute. Doubtless, in spite of his agreement, he
would have refused altogether to take the _Marriage of Figaro_ as
subject of an opera, for we know by his recorded conversations with
Ferdinand Hiller, that he regarded Mozart as the greatest of all
dramatic composers. He felt, too, some delicacy, perhaps even some
diffidence, in adopting the verses on which the illustrious Paisiello
had already worked. He explained to Cesarini how impossible it would be
for him to attack the identical libretto which Paisiello had set; and it
was arranged that Sterbini, the poet who had furnished Rossini with the
"words" (as musicians say),[4] of _Torvaldo e Dorliska_, should perform
a like service for him in connection with the _Barber_. Sterbini and
Rossini understood one another as librettist and composer always should
do; and they lived together in the same house--"the house assigned to
Luigi Zamboni," as the contract has it--until the work was finished. The
admirable unity of the _Barber_, in which a person without previous
information on the subject could scarcely say whether the words were
written for the music or the music for the words, may doubtless in a
great measure be accounted for by the fact that poet and musician were
always together during the composition of the opera; ready mutually to
suggest and to profit by suggestions. Nor was it a slight advantage that
the two operatic partners were living together "in the house assigned to
Luigi Zamboni." Signor Luigi Zamboni was to take the part of Figaro; and
we may be sure that "Largo al fattotum," set to music as soon as it was
written, was handed to Zamboni as soon as it was composed.

Poet and composer had with them Beaumarchais' comedy of the _Barber of
Seville_, and Paisiello's opera founded thereupon. Paisiello's opera was
already known to Rossini, but he does not seem to have been quite
familiar with Beaumarchais' comedy. Sterbini read it to him from
beginning to end, and it was then decided what in Beaumarchais' comedy
should be adopted--the principal dramatic scenes had of course to be
taken--and what in Paisiello's libretto should be rejected. The queer
incidental scenes for La Jeunesse who does nothing but sneeze, and
L'Eveillé who does nothing but yawn, were cut out; and the work was so
divided as to give Rossini the opportunity of composing a far greater
number of musical pieces than are to be found in Paisiello's work. In
dialogue scenes where Paisiello had contented himself with making the
interlocutory personages exchange long passages of recitative, Rossini
allowed the characters on the stage to declaim, but supported their
declamation, not by a succession of chords, but by brilliant themes for
the orchestra. No such thoroughly musical opera had before been
composed. The series of melodies was almost continuous, and the
characters on the stage only ceased to sing for tuneful strains to be
executed by the instrumentalists. This transfer of the current of melody
from the voices to the instruments was new in Italy; but brilliant
examples of it are of course to be found in Mozart's operas which were
performed for the first time in Italy, just before Rossini's _Barber of
Seville_. Sterbini was a most accommodating poet. He was quite prepared
to carry out the composer's ideas, and did not object to alter, curtail
or add to his verses with a view to increasing the effectiveness of
Rossini's music. After writing "Largo al fattotum," with the rapidity of
an improvisator he handed the verses to Rossini, remarking--as Leopold
II. remarked to Mozart with regard to the number of notes contained in
the _Seraglio_--that there were "too many." "Precisely the right
number," was virtually Rossini's reply; and inspired by their vivacity
and their rhythmical flow, he, in fact, set them all. Something of the
light-hearted elastic character of the constantly changing air must
doubtless be attributed, not only to the verve with which Sterbini had
written the words, but also to the impulsiveness and volubility with
which Rossini knew beforehand that Zamboni would sing them.

Rossini worked so quickly that at times he found himself ahead of his
poet--though, as regards the mere putting down on paper, the writing of
verses is but trifling labour compared to that of composing music. Thus,
without waiting for verses, he found a melody or devised a form for the
next musical piece in the order agreed upon, and thereupon asked the
obliging Sterbini to furnish him with suitable "words." Besides a
leading singer in the next room, the poet and composer had by their side
a number of copyists, to whom Rossini threw the sheets of music as he
finished them. For thirteen days the joint authors had scarcely time to
eat, and M. Azevedo asserts that they slept but little, and then only on
a sofa, when it so happened that they could no longer keep their eyes
open. For thirteen days Rossini did not shave; and when some one
observed how strange it was that the _Barber_ should have caused him to
let his beard grow, he replied, that if he had shaved he should have
gone out, and that if he had gone out he should not have returned as
soon as he ought to have done. It seems incredible that in thirteen days
the whole of the _Barber_ should have been composed in score; but it is
certain that the contract binding Rossini to compose it was only signed
on the 26th December, and that he directed the first, second, and third
performances of _Torvaldo e Dorliska_ on the 27th, 28th and 29th. Some
days, too, were lost in discussing various subjects for the proposed
opera with the Roman censorship; and finally, when the _Barber of
Seville_ had been decided upon, Rossini had to read the comedy and to
compare it with the libretto of Paisiello's opera, and to arrange with
his own librettist a new distribution of scenes. The date of the first
representation had been fixed for February 5th, and it was customary at
the Italian theatres to allow fifteen days for rehearsals. He must then
have finished the work in less than a month--between December 29th and
January 24th; and one month is the time given by M. Castil-Blaze in his
_Histoire du Théâtre Italien_. Stendhal, however, says (after Carpani)
that the _Barber_ was composed in thirteen days; and this statement is
repeated--not, it must be presumed without verification--by M. Azevedo.

On one point connected with the production of the new _Barber_, Stendhal
and Azevedo are quite at variance. According to the former, Rossini, as
a matter of politeness, went through the unnecessary form of asking
Paisiello's leave to reset the work, and received from him full
permission to do so; the ancient master nourishing the hope that in
recomposing a work which had already, as he believed, received its
permanent musical form, the young composer would bring himself to grief.
M. Azevedo denies that Rossini asked Paisiello's consent in the matter.
But he adds that the venerable maestro knew of Rossini's intention, and
not only looked forward to the failure of his youthful rival, but was
even prepared to lend a helping hand thereto.



Rossini did not bring out his _Barber_ without addressing a few words of
explanation, if not of apology, to the public; and by way of disclaiming
all idea of entering into rivalry with Paisiello he announced his opera
under a new title.

"Beaumarchais' comedy," he wrote, in an advertisement to the public,
"entitled the _Barber of Seville; or, The Useless Precaution_,[5] is
presented at Rome in the form of a comic drama, under the title of
_Almaviva; or, The Useless Precaution_, in order that the public may be
fully convinced of the sentiments of respect and veneration by which the
author of the music of this drama is animated with regard to the
celebrated Paisiello, who has already treated the subject under its
primitive title.

"Himself invited to undertake this difficult task, the maestro,
Gioachino Rossini, in order to avoid the reproach of entering into
rivalry with the immortal author who preceded him, expressly required
that the _Barber of Seville_ should be entirely versified anew, and also
that new situations should be added for the musical pieces, which,
moreover, are required by the modern theatrical taste--entirely changed
since the time when the renowned Paisiello wrote his work.

"Certain other differences between the arrangement of the present drama
and that of the French comedy above-cited were produced by the necessity
of introducing choruses, both for conformity with modern usage, and
because they are indispensable for musical effect in so vast a theatre.
The courteous public is informed of this beforehand, that it may also
excuse the author of the new drama who, unless obliged by these
imperious circumstances, would never have ventured to introduce the
least change into the French work, already consecrated by the applause
of all the theatres in Europe."

When, in the above announcement, Rossini speaks of "new situations for
the musical pieces which are required by the modern theatrical taste,
entirely changed since the time of Paisiello;" and again of the
necessity of introducing choruses, "both for conformity with modern
usage and because they are indispensable for musical effect in so vast a
theatre," he describes changes which he himself introduced. The "modern
theatrical taste" of Rossini's time was the taste he had himself
created. That Paisiello's forms, and especially his formlessness (as in
long scenes of recitative) were already considered old and were indeed
obsolete, though his _Barber_ had only been thirty-five years before the
public, was implied rather pointedly in the sub-title of Sterbini's
libretto, which was described as follows: "Comedy by Beaumarchais, newly
versified throughout, and arranged for the use of the modern Italian
Musical Theatre."

Paisiello's _Barber_ had decidedly grown old. But as it was no longer
played, people, by reason of its ancient reputation, continued to hold
it in esteem; and the Roman public considered it very audacious for a
young composer like Rossini to have ventured into competition with so
illustrious a master. The young librettist Sterbini was considered quite
as impertinent in his way as his musical associate. Among the Roman
public a compact body of Paisiello's friends, with the spirit of
Paisiello in the midst of them, formed a dangerous clique of enemies;
and so determined was the opposition that Rossini had to meet on the
occasion of his work being represented for the first time that the
overture--an original work composed expressly for _Il Barbiere_, and not
the overture to _Aureliano_ and to _Elisabetta_ afterwards substituted
for it--was executed in the midst of a general murmuring; "such,"
remarks Zanolini, "as is heard on the approach of a procession."[6]

According to M. Azevedo the original overture was lost through the
carelessness of a copyist; but the work could scarcely thus have
disappeared unless not only the score, but also the band parts, had
vanished. Stendhal says that the overture at the first representation
was that of _Aureliano in Palmira_--the one performed even to the
present day. He adds that the audience recognised, or fancied it
recognised, in the overture the grumbling of the old guardian and the
lively remonstrances of his interesting ward. However that may have been
the overture was scarcely listened to; nor did the introduction meet
with any better fate, nor, indeed, could even the appearance of Garcia
on the stage dispose the public in favour of the new work.

Garcia, the most famous tenor of his time, was of course the Almaviva of
the evening. It has already been seen that Luigi Zamboni, Rossini's
fellow-lodger during the composition of the work, was the original
Figaro. The Don Basilio was Vitarelli; Bartolo, Botticelli. The part of
Rosina was assigned to Mme. Giorgi-Righetti, who has left a very
interesting account of the first representation of the opera.[7]

The composer had been weak enough, says the _prima donna_ of this
historical evening, "to allow Garcia to sing beneath Rosina's balcony a
Spanish melody of his own arrangement." Garcia held that as the scene
was laid in Spain, and as Count Almaviva was a Spaniard nothing could be
more appropriate than that this interesting personage should address the
lady of his heart in Spanish song. Unfortunately he forgot to tune his
guitar, and this indispensable preliminary operation had to be performed
by Rosina's serenader on the stage. The public began to laugh; then a
string broke, and the public began to hiss. When the broken string had
been replaced, and the air so awkwardly prefaced was at length heard,
the public did not like it and only listened to it enough to be able to
reproduce certain passages of it in burlesque tones. The introduction to
Figaro's air, which, as every opera-goer knows, is, before being sung by
the vocalist, played by the orchestra, attracted, as well it might do, a
certain amount of attention. When, however, Zamboni entered with
another guitar, the anti-guitarists set up a loud laugh, and without
waiting to see whether the baritone, unlike the tenor, had taken the
trouble to tune his instrument beforehand, hissed and hooted so that not
a note of "Largo al Fattotum" was heard. When Mme. Giorgi-Righetti made
her appearance in the balcony, she was, in her character of favourite
singer, applauded; but having no air assigned to her in this not very
suitable situation, the audience thought they were being robbed of the
expected _cavatina_, and uttered murmurs of disapprobation. The
brilliant and melodious duet for Almaviva and Figaro was sung in the
midst of hisses and derisive shouts. When, however, Rosina reappeared
and sang the first notes of "Una voce" the audience became silent; a
chance was given to the composer for the sake of the singer. Mme.
Giorgi-Righetti was radiant with youth and beauty; the effect of her
fresh, beautiful voice was too much for the opposition. The conclusion
of her bright, sparkling air was followed by three long rounds of
applause. Rossini bowed from his place, at the head of the orchestra, to
the public, and then turning towards the singer, whispered, "_Oh

Vitarelli, the representative of Don Basilio, had "made up" admirably
for the part; and his entry would possibly have been effective but that
a trap having been left open on the stage he stumbled over it, fell,
damaged his face, and on rising had to begin his admirable dramatic air
on the efficacy of calumny with his handkerchief to his nose. A portion
of the public is said to have imagined that the fall, the injuries to
the face, the handkerchief to the nose, were all in the business of the
part, and thinking it savoured of buffoonery, expressed their
disapproval accordingly. The duet of the letter was objected to by
reason of certain incidents afterwards left out; but the music must have
been liked for its own sake had it only been heard. As if the untuned
guitar, the broken string, the newly-placed cavatina, the open trap, the
fall of Don Basilio, and the necessity under which Rosina's music-master
found himself of singing "La Calunnia" with a handkerchief in front of
his mouth had not been enough, the opening of the finest concerted
finale which had yet been given to the Italian stage was the signal for
the appearance of a cat, which was chased in one direction by Figaro, in
another by Bartholo, and which, in a wild endeavour to escape from an
attack made upon it by Basilio, ran into the skirt of Rosina's dress.
The self-introduction of the cat among the principal characters, grouped
together for the finely built concerted piece which brings the first act
to an end, disarranged as a matter of course all the master's
combinations. During the performance of the opening movement the
attention of the public was concentrated entirely on the cat, and
general laughter went on increasing until the long, elaborate,
constantly varied, and, on all other occasions, highly interesting
finale was brought to an end.

With something like a just appreciation of his own merit and with
profound contempt for the injustice and insolence of the public,
Rossini, on the fall of the curtain, turned round and applauded. He was
the only person in the theatre who did so; and the audience indignant
at the presumption of this interested minority of one, was at the same
time so astonished that it forgot at the time to manifest its

The moment of vengeance arrived when the curtain rose for the second
act. The public showed what it thought of Rossini's having ventured to
show what he thought of his own music, by hissing and hooting in such a
manner that not a note of the second act was heard. The composer, while
this organised noise was being kept up, remained perfectly calm at the
orchestral piano. At the end of the performance he went home to bed; and
when the principal singers called upon him soon afterwards to condole
with him he was fast asleep.

The only change that Rossini next day found it necessary to make in his
work was to substitute a new air for the unfortunate Spanish song which
Garcia had been allowed to introduce. This gave him no trouble. He
simply transcribed for the solo voice the melody of the celebrated
chorus which had already figured first in _Ciro in Babilonia_, and
afterwards in _Aureliano in Palmira_. Such was the origin of the
beautiful "Ecco ridente il cielo" which he handed to Garcia as he wrote
it, and which was sung the same evening. Those who believe in the
absolute significance of music apart from words, may be interested to
hear that Almaviva's charming love song was, as first composed, a
prayer--as a love song after all may well be.

At the second representation the _Barber_ was comparatively well
received. Being heard, it was naturally admired. Indeed, a certain
number of connoisseurs are said to have appreciated it from the very
first, though on the opening night the difficulty must have been not to
understand the work--which appeals alike to the simplest, and to the
most cultivated, musical intelligence--but merely to hear it. After a
few performances Rossini's new work began to excite enthusiasm; and it
had not been before the public for more than a week when it was received
nightly with frantic applause.

Garcia's Spanish melody was, after some years, reintroduced into the
_Barber_ by Rubini; the trio which, in the music lesson scene, occupied
the place now filled by no matter what fancy air that the Rosina of the
evening thinks fit to introduce, is known to have been lost: and it has
been seen that, according to some authorities, a like fate attended the
overture written specially for the work. Stendhal, on the unacknowledged
authority of Carpani, states that at the first representation the opera
was preceded by the overture to _Aureliano in Palmira_ and to
_Elisabetta_, which, though heard in connection with the former work at
Milan and in connection with the latter at Naples, had never been heard
at Rome. Besides borrowing from himself, Rossini, in more than one
"number" of the _Barber of Seville_, was indebted to the invention of
others. The melody of the trio "Zitti zitti" is taken, note for note,
from Simon's air in Haydn's _Seasons_--a work, it will be remembered, of
which Rossini in his early youth had directed the performance at the
Lyceum of Bologna. The very lively tune sung by the Duenna Berta is
adapted without much alteration from a Russian dance, which Rossini had
heard played by a Russian lady of his acquaintance. It soon became the
custom not to listen to Berta's air, which is always assigned to an
inferior singer; and it acquired the name of the "Ice tune;" not in
allusion to its place of origin, but because, during its performance,
the people in the boxes called for ices. The part of Rosina, which in
the present day is usually given to the soprano, was composed for the
mezzo-soprano voice. Mme. Giorgi-Righetti sang it, of course, in its
original key; that of F. Many a soprano has sung it in G. According to
an account given by M. Castil-Blaze in his _Histoire du Théâtre Italien_
of the different keys in which the principal airs of _Il Barbiere_ have
been sung, Figaro's "Largo al fattotum," written for Zamboni in the key
of C, is generally sung in B flat; Tamburini, however, sang it in B
natural. Basilio's "La calunnia," written in D, is for the most part
sung in C. Lablache used to sing in D flat the air for Bartholo, written
in E flat.

Whatever may be said as to the character belonging absolutely to this or
that key, it would be difficult to allow that the music of Rosina, of
Figaro, of Basilio, or of Bartolo has either lost or gained by these
frequent transpositions.



No composer has written more lively, more graceful comedy music than
Rossini. But, except _Il Figlio per Azzardo_, with its high notes for
low voices, its low voices for high notes, its ludicrous accompaniments,
and its grotesque instruments of percussion in the shape of metal
lamp-shades tapped with violin bows, Rossini never wrote music which,
comic or serious, was not charming; and _Il Figlio per Azzardo_ was
nothing but a practical joke played for the benefit of an unreasonable
and impolite manager. It may be interesting to consider in what the
musical comic really consists.

The æsthetics of music have been much neglected; and no one, so far as I
know, has yet attempted to explain or even to define the comic in music.
Everything, it may be roughly said, is comic that makes one laugh; and
if this be the case, then, between comic music and music so utterly bad
as to be ludicrous and absurd, there should be no great difference. The
intention, however, of the composer must count for something, and one
cannot accept as comic music which is simply played or sung very much
out of tune. Many persons disbelieve altogether in comic music. Lively,
brilliant music is admirable, and commends itself to every taste. But
comic music is for the most part as objectionable as comic women, than
which nothing much more objectionable can well be imagined. It is the
province of music to charm, to fascinate, to call up visions of delight,
but not to cause fits of laughter. It may be questioned, moreover,
whether laughter, or even the least tendency to laugh, can be provoked
by music, so long as it is composed and executed according to the rules
of art. A comic poem, a comic picture, may be a masterpiece of artistic
expression, but it is difficult to imagine a perfect musical composition
which would afford matter for merriment. Gounod's _Funeral March for a
Marionette_ is a graceful, melodious piece of music, in which there is
nothing comic but the title. No one would find it in the slightest
degree amusing but for the description of the incidents it is supposed
to illustrate, which is usually printed in the programmes of concerts
where the said funeral march is to be performed. In the old-fashioned
Italian operas of the buffo type there are plenty of chattering songs in
which the humour, such as it is, consists in the words being uttered so
rapidly that any greater rapidity of utterance would seem to be
impossible. Here some little amusement may be caused by witnessing the
efforts of the buffo singer or singers--for there are often two or three
of them chattering at once--to overcome such difficulties as have been
deliberately put forward for that purpose by the composer. If this,
however, be humour, it is humour of a very mean order, on a par with
that of "Peter Piper pecked a peck of pepper," and other verbal devices
for testing the power of a speaker to speak rapidly and at the same
time distinctly. In Paisiello's _Barber of Seville_ there was a comic
piece for two fantastic and quite episodical characters, borrowed from
Beaumarchais' comedy (where, as already mentioned, Rossini took good
care to leave them), of whom one, La Jeunesse, sneezed, while the other,
L'Eveillé, yawned, in the presence of old Bartolo. It may be very funny
to sneeze and to yawn, but such fun as therein lies can scarcely be said
to be of a musical character.

Much, indeed, that is considered comic in music possesses the same sort
of drollery that belongs in comic writing to grammatical errors, or to
mistakes in spelling. Romberg's _Toy Symphony_, in which, with the usual
orchestral basis, solo instruments of a burlesque character, such as the
rattle, the penny trumpet, the child's drum, and so on, are from time to
time introduced, is surprisingly funny. But with the first feeling of
surprise the fun also vanishes; for the humour in this, as in all other
toy symphonies, consists only in giving good music to bad instruments.
If Romberg's symphony were played throughout with instruments of the
best make in the parts written for the "toys," no one not previously
acquainted with the work would imagine for a moment that it was intended
to be amusing. In Mozart's _Musical Joke_, again, the joke consists in
the instruments coming in at wrong places, executing inappropriate
phrases, and playing out of tune. There are elements of beauty in the
work, as in everything that Mozart composed; but the humour of the piece
is akin to that of those American humourists of whom one of the most
remarkable was not ashamed to complain of "Mr. Chaucer" that he could
not spell. A composer may easily produce a laugh if he will only
condescend to an absurdity so easy to realise, by causing a pretentious
introduction to be followed by a trivial tune; or he may produce a
genuine burlesque effect by imitating with characteristic exaggeration
the style of some other composer; or he may show a certain wit by means
of musical allusions, as Mozart has done in the supper scene of _Don
Giovanni_, where Don Juan's private band is made to play "Non più
andrai," in order that Leporello may refer to the fact of its not having
been quite appreciated when it was first heard. But without Leporello's
spoken (or declaimed) words it would occur to no one that there was
anything amusing in introducing into one opera an air from another.

Of the music suitable to comedy Rossini was undoubtedly a master; and in
such music the _Barber of Seville_ abounds. But though the most
characteristic air in the whole opera, Figaro's "Largo al fattotum," is
bright, gay, joyful, impulsive, one cannot say that it is comic. Heard
for the first time apart from the words, it would cause no one to laugh,
nor even, except as the expression of musical satisfaction, to smile.

Rossini could write very comic music indeed when he pleased. He knew
well enough, however, that he was writing bad music at the time. He
launched into all sorts of extravagances, and introduced some effects in
which, as we have already seen, musical instruments, properly so called,
had no part.

Meyerbeer, in his highly but sometimes almost grotesque orchestral
effects, has approached the very verge of burlesque music such as
Rossini, in the little opera referred to, deliberately wrote. The simple
motive, for instance, of the march in _Robert le Diable_ is given, when
introduced for the first time, to four kettledrums. A four-note melody
executed on four kettledrums would in a burlesque have excited roars of
laughter. Jessica was "never merry when she heard sweet music." But
sweet music is one thing, and grotesque music another. It is easier,
indeed, to speak of comic music than to define it accurately, or to cite
specimens that will bear analysis.



In 1816, Rossini brought out at the San Carlo, of Naples, the second of
his serious operas, or at least the second of those which were destined
to make a mark: _Otello_. This work exhibited reforms of various kinds
much more important than any that are to be noticed in _Tancredi_.
Recitative is more sparingly used than in the earlier work, and for the
first time it is accompanied by the full band. Now, too, Rossini
banished the piano from the orchestra, where it had been allowed to
remain long after its expulsion as an orchestral instrument from the
bands of Germany and (thanks to Gluck) of France. Two years after its
production at Naples Byron witnessed a representation of _Otello_ at
Venice, and gives some account of it in one of his letters dated 1818.
The libretto struck him as bad and ridiculous, but he praises the music,
and the style in which it was executed. Lord Mount-Edgcumbe, when the
work was given in London, must have been disgusted to find two of the
leading parts assigned to bass voices. Iago is of necessity almost as
important a character as Othello himself. Rossini's librettist kept him,
nevertheless, a little too much in the back ground, while Roderigo, on
the other hand, is too much brought forward. In expelling the piano from
the orchestra Rossini at the same time, did away with those interminable
recitatives accompanied by piano or piano and double bass which
separated the musical pieces in the works composed by Rossini's
predecessors. It was the impersonation, however, of _Otello_ by Davide,
which, in the way of acting and singing, helped more than anything else
to ensure the success of the performance.

"Davide," wrote a French critic, M. Bertin, from Venice, in 1823,
"excites among the _dilettanti_ of this town an enthusiasm and delight
which could scarcely be conceived without having been witnessed. He is a
singer of the new school, full of mannerism, affectation and display,
abusing, like Martin, his magnificent voice with its prodigious compass
(three octaves comprised between four B flats). He crushes the principal
motive of an air beneath the luxuriance of his ornamentation, which has
no other merit than that of difficulty conquered. But he is also a
singer of warmth, _verve_, expression, energy and musical sentiment;
alone he can fill up and give life to a scene; it is impossible for
another singer to carry away an audience as he does, and when he will
only be simple he is admirable; he is the Rossini of song, he is a great
singer, the greatest I have ever heard. Doubtless the manner in which
Garcia plays and sings the part of Otello is preferable, taking it
altogether, to that of Davide. It is purer, more severe, more constantly
dramatic; but with all his faults Davide produces more effect--a great
deal more effect. There is something in him, I cannot say what, which,
even when he is ridiculous, commands, enhances attention. He never
leaves you cold, and when he does not move you he astonishes you; in a
word, before hearing him, I did not know what the power of singing
really was. The enthusiasm he excites is without limits. In fact his
faults are not faults, for Italians who in their _opera seria_ do not
employ what the French call the tragic style, scarcely understand us
when we tell them that a waltz or a quadrille movement is out of place
in the mouth of a Cæsar, an Assur, or an Otello. With them the essential
thing is to please; they are only difficult on this point, and their
indifference as to all the rest is really inconceivable. Here is an
example of it. Davide, considering, apparently, that the final duet of
_Otello_ did not sufficiently show off his voice, determined to
substitute for it a duet from _Armida_ ('Amor possente nome') which is
very pretty, but anything rather than severe. As it was impossible to
kill Desdemona to such a tune, the Moor, after giving way to the most
violent jealousy, sheaths his dagger, and begins in the most tender and
graceful manner his duet with Desdemona, at the conclusion of which he
takes her politely by the hand, and retires amidst the applause and
bravos of the public, who seems to think it quite natural that the piece
should finish in this manner, or rather that it should not finish at
all; for after this beautiful _dénouement_ the action is about as far
advanced as it was in the first scene. We do not in France carry our
love of music so far as to tolerate such absurdities as these, and
perhaps we are right."

_Otello_ in the present day seems somewhat antiquated, and in some of
the dramatic scenes the accent of passion is smothered beneath roulades
and vocalistic ornaments of all kinds. But it contains some fine pieces,
and the last act is full of beauty. Speaking once to a friend on the
subject of his own operas, Rossini said that much of what he had written
must in time pass out of fashion, but that he believed the second act of
_William Tell_, the last act of _Otello_, and the whole of the _Barber
of Seville_ would survive the rest.[8] _Il Barbiere_ is, indeed, as
fresh now as when it was first written. Yet Paisiello's treatment of the
same subject was found to be old-fashioned in a very few years--was in
fact rendered so by the newness, the brightness, the youthful gaiety of
Rossini's setting.

Nothing more need be said in this volume of Rossini considered as a
composer of comic opera. He cultivated every style, including the
ancient style of _La Cenerentola_ which contains much comic with some
serious music, and of _La Gazza Ladra_, which might well have been
treated seriously throughout, though in some of the gravest situations
of this work he is gay, in some of the severest, lively.

_La Cenerentola_, like _Il Barbiere_, _La Gazza Ladra_, and so many
successful operas by Rossini and other Italian composers (_L'Elisir_,
_Linda_, _Lucrezia_, _La Favorita_, _Maria di Rohan_, for instance, of
Donizetti, and the _Sonnambula_ and _Norma_ of Bellini), is based on a
French play--the ingenious comedy of _Cendrillon_, by Etienne. Rossini
composed it for the Teatro Valle of Rome, where it was produced for the
carnival of 1817, on the 26th of December, 1816, precisely one year
after _Torvaldo e Dorliska_, nearly one year after the _Barber_, a few
months after _Otello_, and a few months before _La Gazza Ladra_. Between
the winter of 1815 and the spring of 1816, Rossini composed and produced
six operas, including the four admirable ones just named. The two others
given with comparatively little success were _Torvaldo e Dorliska_ and
_La Gazzetta_.

_La Cenerentola_, on its first production, excited no such enthusiasm as
_Il Barbiere_, but drew after its second or third representation. It is
known to have been Rossini's custom when an opera of his fell, to pick
up the pieces; and the score of _La Cenerentola_ was adorned throughout
with fragments saved from the ruins of his earlier works; such as the
wholly forgotten _Pietra del Paragone_ and the never-much-remembered
_Turco in Italia_. To the former had originally belonged the drinking
chorus, the burlesque proclamation of the Baron, and the duet "Un soave
non so chè;" to the latter the duet "Zitti zitti," the sestet and the
stretta of the finale.

To _La Cenerentola_ belongs the most beautiful and the most striking of
Rossini's final airs for the prima donna: the once highly popular "Non
più mesta." This was his fourth air of the kind; and he now abandoned
this method of bringing an opera to a brilliant termination in favour of
other composers--who duly adopted it.

The part of Cenerentola, like that of Rosina, was written for Madame
Giorgi-Righetti, who obtained therein the most brilliant success,
especially in the famous _rondo finale_. All Rossini's great prima-donna
parts were composed for the contralto or for the mezzo-soprano voice;
for Madame Marcolini, Tancredi; for Madame Giorgi-Righetti, Rosina and
Cenerentola; and for Mademoiselle Colbran, Desdemona and Semiramide.
When Rossini began his career, so absurd was the prevalent custom of
distributing the parts that the first woman's part was habitually given
to the contralto, the first man's part to the sopranist, or artificial
male soprano. Rossini continued to compose principal female parts, first
for the contralto, then for the mezzo-soprano voice; and it was only
when he produced _Matilda di Shubrun_ towards the end of his Italian
career (1821) that he assigned a leading character to a soprano. Matilda
in _Matilda di Shubrun_, and Matilde in _Guillaume Tell_, are the only
two parts that Rossini ever wrote for the soprano voice.

Whether soprano voices have been forced into activity in order to suit
new tastes, or whether composers have taken to writing for the soprano
voice because in the present day sopranos, and especially "light
sopranos," abound, whereas good mezzo-soprano and contralto voices are
but rarely to be met with, it would be difficult to say. But with the
exception of Meyerbeer's _Africaine_ and Donizetti's _Favorita_, no
leading operatic part has for the last fifty years or more been written
for the contralto voice.

A new kind of part, however, has been found for the most masculine of
feminine voices; such parts as those of Pippo in _La Gazza Ladra_, of
Malcolm Græme in _La Donna del Lago_, and of Arsace in _Semiramide_; and
here again we see an innovation of Rossini's, which by his successors
has been generally adopted.

In connection with _La Gazza Ladra_ a few words may here be said of
Rossini's orchestration; much more varied, more brilliant and more
sonorous than that of his predecessors. Rossini introduced new
instruments, and with them new instrumental combinations. These
innovations, like those consisting in a new distribution of the voice
parts, and in the substitution of orchestral melodies with declamatory
phrases here and there for the singers in lieu of endless recitative
accompanied by chords for the violoncello and piano, excited the
hostility of many orthodox professors, together with old-fashioned
connoisseurs and amateurs of all kinds. They accused Rossini of bringing
clarinets from cowherds, horns from the hunting field, trumpets from the
camp, and trombones from the infernal regions. He was destined, on
establishing himself at Paris, to introduce cornets, ophicleides, and,
in the overture to _William Tell_, the nearest possible approach to the
instrument with which the cowherds of Switzerland do really appeal to
the animals placed under their care. But before he had reached these
extremes, before he had in _Semiramide_ brought an entire military band
on to the stage, and had in the same opera written for four horns a
beautiful and beautifully harmonised melody which does not in any way
suggest the chase, he raised the mortal anger of one of his adversaries
and actually placed his life in danger by beginning the overture to _La
Gazza Ladra_ with a duet for drums. A young enthusiast on the side of
stagnation went about armed with the proclaimed intention of slaying the
ruthless innovator. Rossini sent for the juvenile fanatic, talked to
him, explained that in a piece of a military character drums were not
altogether out of place and at last succeeded in appeasing his fury.

To appreciate at a glance Rossini's importance as a writer for the
orchestra it is only necessary to recall the fact that he alone of
Italian composers has composed overtures which live with a life of their
own apart from the works to which they belong, and that of such
overtures he has left five; those of the _Barber_, of _La Gazza Ladra_,
of _Semiramide_, of the _Siege of Corinth_, and of _William Tell_.



When in 1823, the year of _Semiramide's_ being produced at Venice,
Rossini started with his wife, the former Mdlle. Colbran, for
Paris--whence he made his way to London, returning to Paris soon
afterwards--he enjoyed a world-wide reputation, but was far from being
rich. Thanks, however, to a season in London, and to five years'
residence in Paris, where lucrative posts were given to him, he soon
made his fortune.

Speaking some thirty years afterwards of his visit to London, Rossini
said to Hiller:[9] "'From the beginning I had an opportunity of
observing how disproportionately singers were paid in comparison with
composers. If the composer got fifty ducats, the singer received a
thousand. Italian operatic composers might formerly write heaven knows
how many operas, and yet only be able to exist miserably. Things hardly
went otherwise with myself until my appointment under Barbaja.'

"'_Tancredi_ was your first opera which really made a great hit,
maestro; how much did you get for it?'

"'Five hundred francs,' replied Rossini, 'and when I wrote my last
Italian opera, _Semiramide_, and stipulated for 5,000 francs, I was
looked upon, not by the impresario alone, but by the entire public, as a
kind of pickpocket.'

"'You have the consolation of knowing,' said Hiller, 'that singers,
managers, and publishers, have been enriched by your means.'

"'A fine consolation' replied Rossini. 'Except during my stay in
England, I never gained sufficient by my art to enable me to put by
anything; and even in London I did not get money as a composer, but as
an accompanist.'

"'But still,' observed Hiller,'that was because you were a celebrated

"'That is what my friends said,' replied Rossini, 'to decide me to do
it. It may have been prejudice, but I had a kind of repugnance to being
paid for accompanying on the piano, and I have only done so in London.
However, people wanted to see the tip of my nose, and to hear my wife. I
had fixed for our co-operation at musical soirées the tolerably high
price of 50_l._ We attended somewhere about sixty such soirées, and that
was after all worth having. In London, too, musicians will do anything
to get money, and some delicious facts came under my observation there.
For instance, the first time that I undertook the task of accompanist at
a soirée of this description, I was informed that Puzzi, the celebrated
horn-player, and Dragonetti, the more celebrated contrabassist, would
also be present. I thought they would perform solos; not a bit of it!
They were to assist me in accompanying. "Have you then your parts to
accompany these pieces?" I asked them. "Not we," was their answer, "but
we get well paid, and we accompany as we think fit!"

'"These extemporaneous attempts at instrumentation struck me as rather
dangerous, and I therefore begged Dragonetti to content himself with
giving a few pizzicatos when I winked at him, and Puzzi to strengthen
the final cadenzas with a few notes, which, being a good musician, he
easily invented for the occasion. In this manner things went off without
any very disastrous results, and every one was pleased.'"

"'Delicious!' exclaimed Hiller, 'still it strikes me that the English
have made great progress in a musical point of view. At the present time
a great deal of good music is performed in London--it is well performed
and listened to attentively, that is to say, at public concerts. In
private drawing-rooms music still plays a sorry part, and a great number
of individuals, totally devoid of talent, give themselves airs of
incredible assurance, and impart instruction on subjects of which their
knowledge amounts almost to nothing.'

"'I knew in London a certain professor who had amassed a large fortune
as a teacher of singing and the pianoforte,' said Rossini, 'while all he
understood was to play a little, most wretchedly, on the flute. There
was another man, with an immense connection, who did not even know the
notes. He employed an accompanist to beat into his head the pieces he
afterwards taught, and to accompany him in his lessons; but he had a
good voice.'"

Many of the French composers, with about an equal proportion of critics,
received Rossini with anything but cordiality. He was chiefly condemned
as a seeker after new effects. But Berlioz some years later vituperated
him from quite another point of view. He found his music heartless,
unemotional, and written entirely for the singer, and for the sake of
vocal, to the disregard of dramatic effect. "If," he afterwards said,
"it had been in my power to place a barrel of powder under the Salle
Louvois and blow it up during the representation of _La Gazza Ladra_ or
_Il Barbiere_, with all that it contained, I certainly should not have
failed to do so."

The composer Bertin, less a contemporary than a predecessor of Rossini,
wrote of him in the following terms:--

"M. Rossini has a brilliant imagination, _verve_, originality, great
fecundity; but he knows that he is not always pure and correct; and,
whatever certain persons may say, purity of style is not to be
disdained, and faults of syntax are never excusable. Besides, since the
writers of our daily journals constitute themselves judges in music,
having qualified myself by _Montano_, _Le Délire_, _Aline_, &c., I think
I have the right to give my opinion _ex professo_. I give it frankly,
and sign it, which is not done by certain persons who strive incognito
to make and unmake reputations. All this has been suggested only by the
love of art, and in the interest of M. Rossini himself. This composer is
beyond contradiction the most brilliant talent that Italy has produced
since Cimarosa; but one may deserve to be called celebrated without
being on an equality with Mozart."

It seems afterwards to have occurred to Bertin that music as good as
Rossini's might be composed by machinery. He declares, indeed, in a
pamphlet directed against Rossini, entitled "La musique mechanique et de
la musique philosophique," that he once asked Maelzel, the inventor of
the metronome, whether he could construct a machine to compose music;
upon which Maelzel daringly replied that he could, but that his
mechanically-made tunes would not be up to the level of Sacchini,
Cimarosa, and Mozart, and would be worthy only of Rossini.

"M. Auber has told me," says M. Jouvin, in his Life of that composer,
"how he met Rossini for the first time at a dinner given by Carafa in
honour of his illustrious compatriot. On rising from table the maestro,
at the request of his host, went to the piano and sang Figaro's
cavatina, 'Largo al fattotum della cità.'

"'I shall never forget,' said M. Auber to me, 'the effect produced by
his lightning-like execution.' Rossini had a beautiful baritone voice,
and he sang his music with a spirit and _verve_ which neither Pellegrini
nor Galli nor Lablache approached in the same part. As for his art as an
accompanist, it was marvellous; it was not on a key-board but on an
orchestra that the vertiginous hands of the pianist seemed to gallop.
When he had finished I looked mechanically at the ivory keys; I fancied
I could see them smoking. On arriving home I felt much inclined to throw
my scores into the fire. 'It will warm them, perhaps,' I said to myself;
'besides, what is the use of composing music, if one cannot compose like

Apart from a little professional jealousy, Rossini met in Paris with the
warmest possible reception; and the men in authority gave him
substantial marks of their esteem. He was appointed director of the
Théâtre des Italiens, with a salary of 20,000 francs a year; and when
after eighteen months' service he resigned this post, the salary was
continued to him in connection with another, of which the duties were
purely nominal: that of "Inspector of singing." In granting Rossini this
salary, the object of the government was to induce him to remain in
France, and to compose a series of works for the Académie where, after
producing _Il Viaggio a Reims_, at the Italian Theatre in honour of
Charles X.'s coronation, he brought out in succession _Le Siège de
Corinthe_,[10] re-arranged from _Maometto Secundo_, an opera of the year
1820; _Moïse_, re-arranged from _Mosè in Egitto_, a Lenten opera
oratorio of the year 1818; _Le Comte Ory_, re-arranged with many
additions from _Il Viaggio a Reims_; and his greatest work _Guillaume

Every one knows that after _William Tell_, Rossini wrote no more for the
stage. But every one does not know that he for some little time
afterwards entertained an idea of composing an opera on the subject of
Faust. "Yes," answered Rossini, when Ferdinand Hiller questioned him on
the subject, "it was for a long period a favourite notion of mine, and I
had already planned the whole scenarium with Jouy; it was naturally
based upon Goethe's poem. At this time, however there arose in Paris a
regular 'Faust' mania; every theatre had a particular 'Faust' of its
own, and this somewhat damped my ardour. Meanwhile the revolution of
July had taken place; the Grand Opera, previously a royal institution,
passed into the hands of a private person; my mother was dead, and my
father found life in Paris unbearable because he did not understand
French: so I cancelled the agreement which bound me by rights to send in
four other grand operas, preferring to remain quietly in my native land,
enlivening the last years of my old father's existence. I had been far
away from my poor mother when she expired; this was an endless source of
regret to me, and I was most apprehensive that the same thing might
occur in my father's case."

Many explanations have been given of Rossini's reasons for abstaining
from writing any more for the stage, when he had once produced _William
Tell_--nor did he afterwards compose anything whatever of importance
except his thoroughly beautiful _Stabat Mater_. Some of these
explanations have been already referred to. The truth in this matter
seems to have been that Rossini acted under the influence of a great
variety of reasons. Without being hurt by the comparative coldness with
which _William Tell_ for a time was received, without being jealous of
Meyerbeer's and of Halévy's success, which, according to some
anecdote-mongers, caused him to exclaim: "Je reviendrai quand les Juifs
auront fini leur Sabbat," without even having "written himself out," he
may well have reflected whether such a strain as he had subjected
himself to in composing _William Tell_ was worth undergoing a second
time. With the exception of _Il Viaggio a Reims_ nothing that he wrote
for Paris, until he undertook _William Tell_, was absolutely new. He had
already lost the habit, if not the faculty, of composing rapidly; and
this same _Viaggio a Reims_ was the only original work he produced
between _Semiramide_, 1823, and _Guillaume Tell_, 1829. Writing at Paris
for as fine an orchestra as that of the San Carlo Theatre, and for a
finer chorus, he paid particular attention to the choral and orchestral
portions of his last great work. He also profited by the fact that at
the Académie he was free to have as many rehearsals as he pleased; and
to turn this advantage to the greatest possible account he gave himself
infinite, and with him quite unusual pains, to secure a perfect
execution of his opera. In writing for the voices moreover, he had
completely changed his style. What indeed can be more different from the
florid and frequently insignificant,--or, so to say,
anti-significant--passages in the rich, soft, voluptuous melodies of
_Semiramide_, than the simple, emotional, eminently dramatic strains
given to the singers in _Guillaume Tell_? Heine speaks in his "Parisian
Letters" of Meyerbeer's mother having once told him that her son was
"not obliged to compose;" on which Heine remarks that a windmill might
as well say it was not "obliged" to go round: though a windmill will
turn if the wind blows, just as a composer will produce music if moved
by the spirit. Talking on this most interesting subject of speculation
to Ferdinand Hiller, Rossini himself confessed that "when a man has
composed thirty-seven operas he begins to feel a little tired."
_Guillaume Tell_, in any case, marks the end of Rossini's career as an
operatic composer.

Opera has a distinct history in Italy, in France, and in Germany. For a
considerable time it makes progress in Italy. Then Italian composers and
Italian singers go abroad taking Italian opera with them. German
composers, too, visit Italy, and after studying there return to their
native land, to produce with modifications operas which must still be
regarded as Italian in character. At last the Germans who have studied
in Italy become the rivals of the Italian masters. Then Gluck and
Piccinni contend with one another in presence of French audiences, and
above all, of French critics. Finally it becomes the turn of the
Italians to borrow from the Germans; for Mozart, so highly indebted for
his melodic inspiration--or at least for his melodic forms--to Italy,
was so much before the Italians in regard to the composition of his
orchestra and the construction of his musical pieces, that when Rossini
wished to introduce into Italian opera the important reforms which must
always be associated with his name, he had nothing to do but to turn to
Mozart as a model. Rossini was the first Italian composer who
accompanied recitative with the full band, assigned leading parts to
bass singers, made of each dramatic scene one continuous piece of music,
and brought to perfection those highly varied, amply developed concerted
finales, which form so striking a feature in modern Italian opera. All
these innovations were simply adaptations from Mozart.

The history of Rossini's Italian career is the history of opera in Italy
during the first half of the nineteenth century; for Rossini caused the
works of his predecessors to be laid aside, while his own works and
those of his immediate successors, and in an artistic sense followers,
continued to be played almost to the exclusion of all others until the
Verdi period. And even Verdi, who in his latter works has studied
dramatic consistency and dramatic effect more than Rossini studied them
in his earlier works, must be regarded as belonging, more or less
completely, to the school of Rossini.



Donizetti, Rossini's immediate successor but not supplanter, composed
from sixty to seventy operas ("_c'est beaucoup" dirait_ Candide) of
which to this day three at least ("_c'est beaucoup" dirait_ Martin), are
still played regularly every season in London: _Lucia, Lucrezia_, and
_La Favorita_. Of his two charming works in the light style--comic
operas in which the composer never approaches the farcical, never once
ceases to be graceful--neither _L'Elisir_ nor _Don Pasquale_ can be
compared to the much more vigorous _Barber_. Nor has Donizetti produced
any work so full of melody as _Semiramide_, or so dramatic as _William
Tell_. But he rises to unwonted heights in the last act of _La
Favorite_; which, composed for the French Académie, became naturalised
in due time on the Italian operatic stage under the title of _La

Although the career of Donizetti was very much longer than that of
Bellini, whom he preceded and whom he survived, he produced in
proportion to the number of his works fewer by a great deal which have
kept the stage.

Donizetti brought out his first opera _Enrico di Borgogna_ at Venice in
1818, when he was twenty years of age, and _Catarina Cornaro_, his
sixty-third (not to count two or three that were never produced) at
Naples, in 1844, when he was forty-six.

Bellini brought out the first of his works performed in public, _Bianca
e Fernando_ (he had previously composed a sort of pasticcio for the
school theatre of the Naples Conservatorio) at the San Carlo in 1826,
when he was twenty-five years of age; and his last, _I Puritani_, at
Paris in 1835. He had a career then, of but nine years, during which he
composed ten operas, of which five were played with great success, and
of which three, _La Sonnambula_, _Norma_, and _I Puritani_, forty-five
years after their composer's death, still keep the stage. Stendhal (or
perhaps it was Carpani) had foretold that Rossini, the composer of
florid music, would be followed by a master whose melodies would be
remarkable for extreme simplicity, and this prophecy was fulfilled in
the case of Bellini.

Donizetti, like so many other composers, was not encouraged by his
parents to adopt the career in which he was destined to obtain so much
distinction. When, however, his father at last consented to his becoming
a professional musician, he is said to have presented him with an ivory
scraper, as if to impress upon him the necessity of practising the art
of erasing. Probably no composer ever did less in that line than
Donizetti; and though he wrote more accurately than many other Italian
composers, one is frequently astonished to find in his works melodies of
significance and beauty followed at haphazard by the merest
trivialities. Donizetti never went to work without the paternal scraper
by his side. The fluent composer, however, had no occasion to make use
of it for scratching out notes; and it never seems to have occurred to
him to strike out feeble passages, not to say entire pieces. What
Donizetti's father should have given him was not a scraper but a pair of

Donizetti, born at Bergamo in 1798, was but seventeen years of age when
he commenced his studies in his native town under Mayer, who, before the
appearance of Rossini, was one of the most popular composers in Italy;
and he finished them (so far as studies can ever be finished) at Bologna
under Pilotti and Mattei, the latter of whom had some years previously
been Rossini's instructor. Finding that Mattei gave him very few lessons
at the Bologna Lyceum, where he was professor, the youthful and
ingenious Donizetti contrived to obtain supplementary ones by making
himself very agreeable to his master and by turning the conversation as
often as possible to musical subjects. He even went so far as to play at
cards every evening with Mattei's aged mother, a piece of benevolence
for which he was rewarded by much instructive talk from the grateful
son. While at the Lyceum Donizetti occupied himself not only with music,
but also with drawing, architecture, and even poetry; and that he could
turn out fair enough verses for musical purposes was shown when, many
years afterwards, he wrote--so rapidly that the word "improvised" might
here be used--for the benefit of a manager in distress, both words and
music of a little one-act opera, called _Il Campanello_, founded on the
_Sonnette de Nuit_ of Scribe.

No composer, with the exception of Mozart, possessed a more remarkable
memory than Donizetti. After two hearings of Allegri's _Miserere_,
Mozart remembered the whole work so as to be able to write it out note
for note; and Donizetti, wishing to procure for Mayer a copy of an opera
which was being performed at Bologna, and which the impresario had
refused to lend, had such a lively recollection of the music after
hearing it two or three times that he was able to put it down on paper
from beginning to end. Unfortunately the tellers of these stories omit
as a rule to say whether the possessors of such wonderful mnemonic
powers make notes while hearing the compositions, which, in rather a
literal sense, they propose to carry away with them. A prodigious memory
for small things as for great would be necessary to enable a musician in
the present day to write out, even after a dozen hearings, an opera by
Meyerbeer or by Wagner with all the changes of harmony, all the details
of instrumentation. The operas, however, of Donizetti's youth were much
simpler affairs than these latter-day productions.

Already known by many pieces of instrumental and religious music,
Donizetti produced his first opera, _Enrico di Borgogna_, at Venice in
1818. This work obtained so much success that the composer was requested
to undertake at once a second one for the same city. After writing an
opera for Mantua in 1819, _Il Falignamo di Livonia_, Donizetti visited
Rome, where his _Zoraïde di Granata_ procured him an exemption from
military service, which would otherwise have carried him off, and the
honour of being crowned at the Capitol. He now produced a whole series
of operas which owed their success chiefly to the skill with which he
imitated the style of Rossini. Strangely enough it was not until Rossini
had ceased to write that Donizetti, his immediate successor, exhibited
something like a style of his own. In 1830, however, the in many parts
highly-dramatic _Anna Bolena_ was produced; a work which was long
regarded as its composer's masterpiece. Donizetti wrote _Anna Bolena_
for Pasta and Rubini, and it was first represented for Pasta's benefit
in the year 1831. In the tenor air, _Vivi tu_, Rubini made a striking
success; and it was in this opera, as Henry VIII., that Lablache first
gained the favour of the London public. _Anna Bolena_ was destined soon
to be eclipsed by other works from the pen of the same composer; and it
is now but rarely, if ever, heard. Many years, indeed, have passed since
it was last performed in London with Mdlle. Titiens in the principal
character. It contains an unusually large number of expressive, singable
melodies; and many of its scenes possess more dramatic significance than
belong as a rule to Rossini's Italian works. It marks a step in fact, in
the movement from the style of Rossini, as exhibited in his Italian
operas, towards that of Verdi; a movement in which Bellini, standing by
himself, cannot be said to have had any part. Neither in his earlier
operas does Bellini, like Donizetti, resemble Rossini, nor in his later
ones does he, like Donizetti, approach what was afterwards to be known
as the style of Verdi.

_Lucrezia Borgia_, written for Milan in 1834, was a distinct advance on
_Anna Bolena_. This work, with _Lucia_ and _La Favorita_, by which it
was to be succeeded, must be ranked among Donizetti's most successful
productions; and it has already been pointed out that the three operas
just named are the only ones by which Donizetti is now represented
regularly every year at our great lyrical theatres. _Lucrezia Borgia_ is
based on one of Victor Hugo's most dramatic plays; but the composer has
not turned to so effective account as might have been expected, the
great scene in which Maffio Orsini's drinking song is interrupted by the
funeral dirge given to the procession of monks in the outside street.
Like Verdi, some years afterwards, in _Ernani_ and in _Rigoletto_,
Donizetti counted too much on a musical effect which is naturally much
more impressive in a spoken drama, where music, until this one scene,
has not been heard, than in an opera which is sung throughout. Francis
I.'s song, in the drama of _Le Roi s'amuse_, arrests the attention much
more than does the Duke of Mantua's canzone in _Rigoletto_. The horn of
Hernani is mysterious and terrifying in the play, while in the opera,
heard after many other horns, not to speak of cornets, trombones,
ophecleides, and all the instruments of the Sax family, it scarcely
excites even a feeling of surprise. As regards _Lucrezia Borgia_, though
the singers of the drinking-song and the chanters of the burial service
have the scene entirely to themselves, yet the contrast between reckless
life and inevitable death is less striking in a work where music
possesses no special significance than in one where music has been
introduced for the sake of impressiveness in the single scene where it
is employed. Taking it, however, for what it is worth, Donizetti's
successor, Verdi, would doubtless have made more of it than Donizetti
himself has done. Maffio Orsini's brindisi is spirited, and
characteristically voluptuous. But there is nothing very awe-inspiring
in the chorus of monks at the back of the stage; and the two pieces bear
no relation to one another--which they might perhaps with advantage have
been made to do.

_Lucrezia Borgia_ contains less recitative than belongs to the operas of
Rossini, who himself dispensed with the endless monologues and
recitatives cultivated by his predecessors. Indeed, the amount of
measured talk in _Lucrezia Borgia_ scarcely exceeds that which is to be
met with in the most popular of Verdi's works. The brilliancy of the
introduction, the series of dramatic scenes--for which the composer had,
above all, to thank his librettist, who, in his turn, was indebted to
Victor Hugo--and an unusually large number of tuneful themes for four
leading personages among whom the interest is judiciously distributed,
could not fail to secure for _Lucrezia Borgia_ the success it in fact

The graceful _Elisir d'Amore_, which, owing to the prevailing taste for
spectacular opera, is now but rarely heard, was given for the first time
at Milan in 1832. Donizetti was now composing operas at the rate of
about three a year. Many of them made but little impression and scarcely
a twelfth part of them are performed in the present day.

In 1835, however, Donizetti produced an opera which was received with
enthusiasm, which soon became popular throughout Europe, and which
seems to possess as much vitality now as when it was first brought out.
_Lucia di Lammermoor_, the work in question, contains some of the most
beautiful melodies, in the sentimental style, that Donizetti has
composed; and it is especially admired by musicians for the broadly
conceived, well-constructed and highly dramatic finale which brings the
second act to so effective a conclusion. The sudden appearance of Edgar
of Ravenswood just as his devoted but despairing Lucy has been forced to
sign the contract which gives her to another, is but the first of a
series of situations, skilfully varied and contrasted, which the
librettist has ably planned, and which have been admirably treated by
the composer. The part of Lucia, beloved by every "light soprano" of the
present day, was written for Persiani; that of Edgardo, which, in the
days of the great tenors, was even more popular than the prima donna's
part, for Duprez. Of the last act of _Lucia_, which, until the reign of
the light sopranos set in, used to be considered the crowning glory of
the opera, Donizetti wrote both words and music. It has already been
mentioned that he once transformed a French vaudeville into an Italian
opera or operetta; and it may be added that the libretti of _Betly_ and
of _La Figlia del Reggimento_ are both from his pen. _La Figlia del
Reggimento_, however, was only _La Fille du Régiment_ translated into
Italian; and the libretto of _Betly_ is based, scene by scene, on
Adolphe Adam's little opera of _Le Chalet_--known in English as the
_Swiss Cottage_. In the case of the last act of _Lucia_, Donizetti not
only wrote the words; he designed the scenes. In the novel Edgar loses
himself on the seashore, and is drowned. In the opera, however, when so
far as Lucia is concerned the story is at an end, he reappears in an
appropriate cemetery to celebrate, in a lyrical lament, the virtues of
his demented love; to be informed by a chorus of retainers that she has
not only lost her reason, but has departed altogether from this world;
and finally to stab himself while still singing the praises of his
"_bell' alma adorata_." When the Lucia of the evening is Patti, Nilsson,
or Albani, and the Edgardo is no one in particular, the final scene of
course falls flat; no one, indeed, stops to hear it. But the case was
quite different when the part of Edgardo was filled by a great dramatic
vocalist, like Duprez, or in later days by Mario.

In 1835 Donizetti visited Paris, and there brought out his _Marino
Faliero_, remembered for a time by several pretty pieces, including, in
particular, the opening chorus for the workmen in the arsenal, and a
chorus of gondoliers at the beginning of the second act. He was more
successful when revisiting the French capital, in 1840, he produced
there his opera of _I Martiri_, founded on the subject of _Polyeucte_
which, composed for Naples with a view to Nourrit in the principal part,
had been objected to by the Neapolitan censorship; _La Fille du
Régiment_, written for and performed at the Opéra Comique; and _La
Favorite_ composed in the first instance for a house of the second rank,
the Théâtre de la Renaissance, but afterwards transferred to the
Académie. _La Favorite_--or _La Favorita_, as it became after passing
from the French to the Italian stage--has, like _Lucrezia Borgia_, the
advantage of being founded on a highly dramatic story. It is based on a
French drama known, until the opera caused it to be forgotten, as _Le
Comte de Comminges_; and it seems to owe its origin to a Spanish work.
In _La Favorita_, as in most Spanish plays, there is no unfolding of the
plot through introductory narrative. The action, from the beginning,
takes place beneath the eyes of the spectator. A young man, already
tired of the world, is seeking repose in the seclusion of a monastery.
But he has been troubled by a vision. The vision still haunts him, and
the prior vainly exhorts him in a duet to abandon all thought of the
external, and to concentrate his attention on the inward and spiritual.
Fernando's adventures with the beautiful lady who turns out to be the
"favourite" of the king, the recompense bestowed upon him in the shape
of this lady's hand for the valour he has shown in the king's service,
and his ultimate return to the monastery when he finds how bitterly he
has been deceived, need not here be recounted. It is worth observing,
however, that the success of the opera has been in a great measure due
to the excellence of the libretto; and that in all really good libretti,
as in that of _La Favorita_, the action of the piece, instead of being
related, is presented continuously on the stage. The duet of the first
act for Fernando and the chief of the monastery is sufficiently
interesting. The choruses of women and the ballet music (of which these
choruses form part), in the second act, are graceful and melodious; and
the king's air in the third act, _Pour tant d'amour_, has been always
liked both by the popular baritones who sing it and by the public.
Leonora's scena, too, "O mon Fernand," possesses, at least in the slow
movement (the quick one being quite unworthy of it), a certain amount of
beauty. But the fourth act of _La Favorita_ is worth all the rest of the
opera, and it may well be regarded as the finest act Donizetti has
composed. The calmness and purity of the tenor's air, "Ange si pur," and
the passionate impulsiveness of the final duet for the despondent
lovers, are eminently dramatic: the character of each piece being
perfectly in accord with the situation. The choruses are highly
impressive, and the whole scene becomes filled with earnest animation as
it moves towards the final climax. Donizetti is said to have sketched
and in the main to have completed this act at a single sitting, and in
the space of some three or four hours. The andante, however, of the duet
was added at the rehearsals; and the cavatina, "Ange si pur" was
borrowed from the score of a work never brought out--_Le Duc d'Albe_. If
there could be any doubt about the fact, it would be difficult to
believe that Fernando's air had not been inspired by the situation in
which it occurs. So, after all, in a measure it was; since the composer
took it from elsewhere to introduce it where he knew it would be in

_La Favorita_ was by no means Donizetti's last work. He had yet to write
_Linda di Chamouni_, in which there is more of what is called "local
colour" than in any other of his operas; and _Don Pasquale_, which,
apart from the brightness and gaiety of its never-ending series of
melodies, would be remembered if only from the circumstance of its
having been written for that incomparable quartet, Grisi, Mario,
Tamburini, and Lablache. The very year (1843) that Donizetti produced
_Don Pasquale_ at Paris he brought out _Maria di Rohan_ at Vienna. The
music of _Maria di Rohan_ is in some respects the most dramatic that
Donizetti has written. The libretto, like almost every good libretto, is
based on a French play--_Un Duel sous Richelieu_; and it contains a very
strong part for the baritone, in which, at our Royal Italian Opera,
Ronconi has often shown the highest histrionic genius, together with a
certain inability to sing in tune. _Maria di Rohan_, however, is not to
be called dramatic simply because it contains one great dramatic part.
What is more important is the fact that the music of the work is
appropriate to the various personages and to the great situations of the
piece. In portraying the original of the jealous husband, Donizetti
exhibits all the earnestness and vigour of Verdi, whom, as before
observed, he resembles more in _Maria di Rohan_ than in any of his
earlier works.

Donizetti's last opera was _Catarina Cornaro_, brought out at Naples in
1844. This was his sixty-third dramatic work, without counting a certain
number--variously estimated, but not likely to be great--which have not
been represented. At least two-thirds of Donizetti's operas have never
been heard in England. Soon after the production of _Catarina Cornaro_
Donizetti fell into a melancholy condition. Symptoms of dementia
manifested themselves while he was on a visit to Paris. The doctors
thought the air of his native town might have some salutary effect, and
the patient was accordingly ordered to Bergamo; but the case was
already a hopeless one. He was taken to Bergamo, but was attacked with
paralysis on the journey; and soon after his arrival, having experienced
a second attack, he succumbed.

Donizetti, as has already been said, worked for some time before and for
many years after Bellini, whom he preceded and survived. Bellini was
born in 1806, nine years after Donizetti, and died in 1837, thirteen
years before him. He was a native of Sicily, and his father, with whom
he took his first lessons in music, was an organist at Catania. The
organist was persuaded to send his son to Naples by a Sicilian nobleman,
who promised to pay his expenses as a student at the famous
Conservatorio, which he in due time entered, and where he had for
fellow-pupil Mercadante--more or less known whereever Italian opera has
been cultivated by his _Giuramento_, the only one of his numerous works
which ever met with anything like an enduring success. Mercadante was a
better musician than Bellini. But he possessed far less creative power;
and his creations or inspirations in the shape of melodies are seldom
comparable in beauty to those of which the scores of _La Sonnambula_,
_Norma_, and _I Puritani_ are so full. The tenor's love-song in _Il
Giuramento_, and the highly dramatic duet which brings that opera to a
conclusion, will be remembered by all who have once heard this
masterpiece of a composer who did not produce masterpieces. Opera-goers
of the last thirty years cannot altogether forget him; and it may in
particular be observed that he made a far more effective use of the
orchestra than his more divinely endowed fellow-student, who thought
and felt in melody as Ovid, and afterwards Pope, "lisped in numbers:"
every sequence of notes that occurred to him being melodious.

Bellini composed his first work while he was studying at the
Conservatorio, where it was afterwards performed. His next production
was intended for the outside public. It was entitled _Adelson e
Salvino_, and had the honour, or at least the advantage, of being
represented in the presence of the illustrious Barbaja, who, without
being a musician, was, as we have already seen, a keen appreciator of
musical excellence. It would have been necessary, perhaps, to have been
a little blind not to perceive the merit of three such masters as
Rossini, Donizetti, and Bellini. Such blindness however, was as a matter
of fact exhibited by a good many, whereas the ex-waiter of the San Carlo
gambling saloon showed himself clear-sighted in the matter. Rossini and
Donizetti had both been under engagements to Barbaja, and he was not
going to allow Bellini to escape him. The famous impresario was at this
time director of the San Carlo at Naples, of the Scala at Milan, of some
smaller operatic establishments in Italy, and of the Italian Opera at
Vienna. He commissioned Bellini in the first place to write an opera for
Naples, where, in 1826, he brought out his _Bianca e Fernando_. This
work obtained no very great amount of success. But it pleased a
considerable portion of the public; and it so far satisfied Barbaja that
the sagacious manager entrusted the young composer, now twenty years of
age, with the libretto of _Il Pirata_, in which the principal part was
to be written specially for Rubini. This time Bellini's opera was to be
produced at La Scala. In the simple touching melodies of _Il Pirata_--of
which the principal one for the tenor, quickly laid hold of by composers
for the pianoforte and the violin, was still remembered long after the
opera, as a whole, had been forgotten--Bellini at once revealed the
character of his genius; and the composer of twenty was destined to
express the reaction he felt within himself, and which the public was
prepared to feel, against the florid style of Rossini. While composing
_Il Pirata_, Bellini retired into the country with the singer on whose
execution the success of the work would so much depend. Rubini sang the
melodies of his part as Bellini wrote them; and Bellini is said not to
have succeeded all at once in inducing him to abandon his taste for
ornamentation, and in prevailing upon him to deliver the simple phrases
of his principal airs, not only from the chest, but also from the heart.
Rubini and his composer, Bellini and his singer, soon understood one
another; and in his great scene the admired tenor excited the utmost
enthusiasm. Now were fulfilled the words of the prophet Stendhal (or
perhaps it was the seer Carpani beneath whose mantle Stendhal, we know,
was in the habit of concealing himself), who, writing only some two or
three years before, had foretold that Rossini would be followed by a
composer remarkable for the simplicity of his style.

After producing in succession _La Straniera_ (Milan, 1828), _Zaira_
(Parma, 1829), Bellini brought out at Venice his operatic version of
_Romeo and Juliet_, under the title of _I Capuletti ed i Montecchi_
which owed such success as it obtained to the singing of Mdle. Pasta,
as _Il Pirata_ had been indebted for the favour with which it was
received to the singing of Rubini. The years 1829, 1830, 1831, and 1832
are especially memorable in the history of Italian opera; for in the
first of these Rossini's _William Tell_, in the second Donizetti's _Anna
Bolena_, in the third Bellini's _Sonnambula_, and in the fourth
Bellini's _Norma_, was produced. The Italian school of operatic music
was certainly at that time supreme in Europe; and Rossini, Donizetti,
and Bellini continued for many years to hold sway at theatres where they
have now to share their dominion with the composers of France and
Germany--with Gounod, Ambroise Thomas, and Bizet, with Meyerbeer and
with Wagner.

_La Sonnambula_, as the work of a new composer, was a good deal sneered
at on the occasion of its first production in London. But its endless
flow of melodies--many of which, being full of true emotion, are so far
thoroughly dramatic--could not fail to ensure its success, with the
public at large; and this success, now of half a century's duration, has
scarcely diminished since the part of _Amina_ was first undertaken by
Pasta, and that of _Elvino_ by Rubini. Our old friend, Lord
Mount-Edgcumbe, true type of the praiser of times gone by, having been
scared by Rossini, was not likely to be calmed down by Bellini. Of
_Norma_ he tells us that the scene of the opera was laid "in Wales," and
that it "was not liked." It is difficult to understand the mood of one,
having ears to hear, who, whatever he might think of _Norma_ as a
specimen of the highest kind of tragic opera, could fail to "like it."
Rossini, together with a mass of opera-goers in all countries, was of
those who not only "liked" but greatly admired _Norma_; and he gave the
composer the benefit of his counsels when the still young Bellini (he
was even now only thirty years of age) undertook to write an opera for
the Italian Theatre of Paris, with Grisi, Rubini, Tamburini, and
Lablache in the principal parts. The effect of Rossini's advice may be
seen in the greater degree of attention paid by Bellini to the
orchestration of _I Puritani_ and to the concerted music. It would have
been well if some one had recommended Bellini not to set to work upon so
poor a libretto as that of _I Puritani_ derived from Ancelot's poor
novel, _Les Puritains d'Ecosse_. Rubini's air, "Ah te, o cara," the
polacca for Grisi, the duet in three movements for Tamburini and
Lablache,--as to which Rossini, writing an account of the opera to a
friend at Milan, remarked that some echo of the final outburst for the
two voices, with its brazen accompaniments, must surely have reached
him,--and the beautiful tenor solo of the closing concerted piece: these
in themselves must have been enough to secure the success of the opera.
The last-named melody for the tenor voice, so thoroughly religious in
character, was sung at Bellini's funeral to the words of the
_Lacrymosa_; and it was in the midst of the enthusiasm created by his
last work that Bellini, at the age of thirty-eight, died.



GUISEPPE VERDI, the successor at once of Bellini and of Donizetti, but
whose energetic style bears a far greater resemblance to that of
Donizetti in his later works (_Maria di Rohan_, for instance) than to
that of Bellini, was born near Parma, on the 9th of October, 1814. His
father was an innkeeper in a humble way of business, and Verdi's first
lessons in music were taken from the local organist. In 1833, thanks to
the assistance of a rich patron of art, he went to Milan, where for
three years he studied under Lavigna, musical conductor at the Scala
Theatre. It was not until 1839 that he succeeded in getting his first
opera, _Oberto, Conte di San Bonifazio_, produced. But the manager of
the Scala, where it was performed was so satisfied with its success that
he gave the young composer an order for three other works. Unfortunately
at this juncture Verdi lost a wife whom he had recently married and to
whom he was tenderly attached. He had just undertaken the uncongenial
and now hateful task of composing an _opera buffa_ entitled, _Un Giorno
di Regno_; and, as might have been expected, this work was somewhat
deficient in comedy. It failed; and so complete was the fiasco that the
director of La Scala felt himself justified in declining to receive from
Verdi the two other operas which he had agreed to take.

The unhappy composer had now to begin his career again; and as the first
step he passed a year without writing a note. He then set to work once
more and composed his well-known opera on the subject of Nebuchadnezzar,
called familiarly _Nabuco_. _Nabucodonosore_, produced in London, where
the biblical subject had been objected to by the censorship, under the
title of Nino, was the first work by which Verdi became famous out of
his own country; and the success of _Nabuco_ became in due time
European. _Nabuco_ (1842) was followed by _I Lombardi_ (1843), and
_Ernani_ (1844); and the three works by which Verdi established his
reputation in Italy were all given without much delay at Her Majesty's
Theatre. The first production, in fact, of Verdi's works dates from
immediately before the secession which led to the establishment of the
Royal Italian Opera. An opera on the subject of the _Two Foscari_ was
brought out at Rome in 1844, and some three or four years afterwards was
given at the Royal Italian Opera, with Ronconi in the principal part.
_Ernani_, however, at both our rival opera houses was for some time the
most admired and the most often played of the new composer's works.

At this time Verdi's music met with but little appreciation from
critics, who declared it to be noisy and commonplace, and who were
particularly offended by so much brass being employed in the
orchestration, and by so many of the choruses being written in unison.
The new composer was accused, moreover, of passing too abruptly from one
piece to another, of not sufficiently preparing his effects, and so on.
We have seen how Rossini was attacked when his operas were first
produced in England; and the Lord Mount-Edgcumbes of 1848, and indeed of
many years later, were thoroughly dissatisfied with Verdi, whom it was
the fashion to represent in the newspapers of the day as a sort of
melodramatic mountebank. Even as late as 1856, when the richly
melodious, and in many respects highly dramatic _Trovatore_ was given at
the Royal Italian Opera, the talent, or rather the genius of Verdi, was
still systematically denied. The style in which Verdi's operas were
habitually executed in London may have had something to do with the
charges pressed so energetically against him. Those, however, who have
heard Verdi conduct his own works are aware that though his scores may
contain parts for a considerable number of brass instruments, yet the
brassiness of the orchestra is kept down and a proper balance of
sonority maintained. Fully informed as to why Verdi's works ought not to
be admired, the public of London persisted in admiring them; and it may
be here mentioned that for some years Verdi was not much better treated
by the critical press of France than by that of England. M. Scudo,
writing in the _Revue des deux Mondes_ found in Verdi the same faults
already mentioned as those of which he was habitually accused in
England. _Il Trovatore_, however, did much towards converting M. Scudo;
and the success of that work, if not the work itself, did much to shake
the faith, or rather the unfaith, of those English critics and
connoisseurs who had previously disbelieved in Verdi. The production of
_Rigoletto_ at the Royal Italian Opera a year or two later, with Madame
Bosio (most charming of Gildas), Signor Mario, and Signor Ronconi in the
principal parts, made those who were still sceptical as to Verdi's high
merits appear somewhat ridiculous. _La Traviata_, with its questionable
story derived from the younger Dumas's novel and play of _La Dame aux
Camélias_, was a good deal blamed by reason of its libretto; and also on
account of the alleged triviality of the music, which, however, thanks
to the tone of genuine emotion in many of its strains, still lives, and
is now, indeed, more popular than ever.

Verdi's success in England was confirmed, and more than confirmed, by
the production at the Royal Italian Opera of _Un Ballo in Maschera_
(founded on the same subject as Auber's _Gustave III._), with an
execution which was above all remarkable for the style in which the part
of the Duke, vaguely described as "Il Duca," was played by Signor Mario,
and that of Renato, whose wife the Duke betrays, by Signor Graziani; and
for the last twelve or fifteen years it has been considered bad taste
not to admire Verdi's music. Indeed, since _Aïda_, his latest, most
serious, most studied, and, in the true sense of the word, most dramatic
opera, it has become the fashion in some musical circles to place him
above all other Italian composers, to contrast the significance of his
melodies, the characterisation of his personages, and the forcible
construction of his scenes, with the careless, haphazard stringing
together of meaningless, if singable tunes, and of ingenious rather than
dramatic concerted pieces which mark the style or want of style of so
many Italian composers. It is only fair, however, to remember that
Verdi has not yet surpassed _William Tell_, that he has produced nothing
superior in the way of concerted finale to the celebrated one which
closes the second act of _Lucia_, and that he scarcely could have
treated the last act of _La Favorita_ more dramatically, or with a
greater abundance of melodic ideas than Donizetti--here by the way,
writing at times very much in Verdi's own manner.

In pursuing the story of Verdi's constantly increasing success among the
English we have departed from the general history of his career. It must
be mentioned, however, that many of Verdi's operas which gained great
favour in Italy have either never been given in England at all, or have
been performed in this country without exciting much enthusiasm. Nor was
any great impression made in England by the work which, under the title
of _Masnadieri_, Verdi wrote expressly for Her Majesty's Theatre in the
days of Jenny Lind, with Jenny Lind herself, Gardoni, and Lablache in
the principal parts. No one seems to have suggested that Verdi's _King
Lear_ should be performed in England; but from time to time there has
been some talk of producing his _Macbeth_, of which a French version was
brought out, not unsuccessfully, at the Théâtre Lyrique of Paris, with
some additional music, and especially some new ballet scenes by the

It is scarcely worth while to recall Verdi's failures: but _Luisa
Miller_ and _La Forza del Destino_ must in fairness be reckoned among
the number. _Luisa Miller_ is based on the theme of Schiller's pathetic
but over-dolorous drama _Cabale und Liebe_. For the basis of _La Forza_
Verdi did not have recourse to Schiller as in the case of _Luisa Miller_
and _I Massdieri_, nor to Victor Hugo as in that of _Ernani_ and of
_Rigoletto_ (_Le Roi s'amuse_). His librettist borrowed the subject from
a most sanguinary melodrama by a Spanish author of some distinction,
though with such bloodthirsty tendencies that he brings almost every
character in his play to a violent end, while one of the leading
personages, after apparently meeting his death, is restored to life to
be killed again. In _La Forza del Destino_ the composer has so neglected
the concerted music that the work does not include one regularly
constructed concerted piece. It contains, however, some beautiful
melodies for the solo voice, including one in particular assigned to the
prima donna, which Verdi, from having inscribed it beneath one of his
best portraits, would seem to regard as characteristically his own. Of
Verdi's _Requiem_, composed in memory of Manzoni, little need be said
except that it is melodious, impressive, and often very
dramatic--dramatic, however, in the style of _Aïda_ not of the less
thoroughly dramatic, but more stagey works of Verdi's youth.

Verdi, now (1880) in his sixty-seventh year, has by no means renounced
musical composition; and he is understood to be actively engaged on a
new _Othello_, of which Signor Boito, author and composer of
_Mefistofele_, has furnished the libretto, and which is to be brought
out as soon as completed under the title of _Iago_.

Unlike other composers, Verdi has played a certain political part,
which, however, seems in a great measure to have been forced upon him.
In the days before Italian unity it was discovered that the letters
composing his name might, in due order, be regarded as signifying
"Vittore Emanuele, Re d'Italia"; so that "Viva Verdi!" came to be
accepted as an aspiration for a united Italian kingdom with Victor
Emanuel on the throne. When _Macbeth_ was brought out, all sorts of
political allusions were discovered in the libretto; and nothing would
satisfy the electors of Verdi's native town but to make him a member of
the National Assembly of Parma. After the formation of the Italian
kingdom Verdi became a member of the Italian parliament; and in 1874 the
king made him a senator.



    1. Il Pianto d'Armonia. Cantata, 1808
    2. Orchestral Symphony. 1809
    3. Quartet for Stringed Instruments. 1809
    4. La Cambiale di Matrimonio. Opera, 1810
    5. L'Equivoco Stravagante. Opera, 1811
    6. Didone Abbandonata. Cantata, 1811
    7. Demetrio e Polibio. Opera, 1811
    8. L'Inganno Felice. Opera, 1812
    9. Ciro in Babilonia. Opera, 1812
    10. La Scala di Seta. Opera, 1812
    11. La Pietra del Paragone. Opera, 1812
    12. L'Occasione fa il Ladro. Opera, 1812
    13. Il Figlio per Azzardo. Opera, 1813
    14. Tancredi. Opera, 1813
    15. L'Italiana in Algeri. Opera, 1813
    16. L'Aureliano in Palmira. Opera, 1814
    17. Egle e Irene. Cantata (unpublished), 1814
    18. Il Turco in Italia. Opera, 1814
    19. Sigismondo. Opera, 1814
    20. Elisabetta. Opera, 1815
    21. Torvaldo e Dorliska. Opera, 1816
    22. Il Barbiere di Seviglia. Opera, 1816
    23. La Gazella. Opera, 1816
    24. Otello. Opera, 1816
    25. Teti e Peleo. Cantata, 1816
    26. Cenerentola. Opera, 1817
    27. La Gazza Ladra. Opera, 1817
    28. Armida. Opera, 1817
    29. Adelaida di Borgagna. Opera, 1818
    30. Mosè Opera, 1818
    31. Adina. Opera (written for Lisbon), 1818
    32. Ricciardo e Zoraïde. Opera, 1818
    33. Ermoine. Opera, 1819
    34. Eduardo e Cristina. Opera, 1819
    35. La Donna del Lago. Opera, 1819
    36. Cantata in honour of the King of Naples. 1819
    37. Bianca e Faliero. Opera, 1820
    38. Maometto II. Opera, 1820
    39. Cantata in honour of the Emperor of Austria. 1820
    40. Matilda di Shubrun. Opera, 1821
    41. La Riconoscenza. Cantata, 1821
    42. Zelmira. Opera, 1822
    43. Il vero Omaggio. Cantata, 1822
    44. Semiramide. Opera, 1823
    45. Il Viaggio a Reims. Opera, 1825
    46. Le Siège de Corinthe. Opera, 1826
    47. Moïse. Opera, 1827
    48. Le Comte Ory. Opera, 1828
    49. Guillaume Tell. Opera, 1829
    50. Les Soirées musicales. Douze morceaux de Chant, 1840
    51. Quatre Ariettes Italiennes. 1841
    52. Stabat Mater. 1842
    53. La Foi, L'Espérance et la Charité. Trois Choeurs, 1843
    54. Stances à Pie IX. 1847
    55. Messe Solennelle. 1869




_A Series of Biographies of the Great Musicians._


      I. =WAGNER.= By the EDITOR.



     IV. =SCHUBERT.= By H. F. FROST.

      V. =ROSSINI=, and the Modern Italian School.



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[1] _Cenni di una donna già cantante sopra il maestro Rossini._

[2] _Théâtres Lyriques de Paris_, "L'Opéra, Italien," p. 317.

[3] M. Azevedo (_G. Rossini, sa Vie et ses OEuvres_, par A. Azevedo)
says that "Rossini, consulted as to the correctness of these figures,
thought there must be an error of 100 scudi. He was under the impression
that he had only received 300 scudi for the _Barber_."

[4] A poet of our time, finding himself described on a title-page as the
author of "words" which a composer had set to "music," suggested that,
with a view to uniformity, for "music," "crotchets and quavers" should
be substituted.

[5] In the Avvertimento al Pubblico the title of the comedy is given in
Italian, "_Il Barbiere di Sivigilia; ossia, L'Inutile Precauzione_."

[6] L'Ape Italiana. Paris 1836.

[7] Cenn di una donna già contante sopra il maestro Rossini.

[8] M. de Saint-George, in a speech he delivered at Rossini's funeral.

[9] "Conversations with Rossini," by Ferdinand Hiller. _Musical World_,

[10] _Le Siège de Corinthe_ was the first opera--it was the thirty sixth
he had composed--that Rossini sold to a music publisher.

[11] _See also_ Rose Library.

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software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.