"SON BY CHANCE"
Comic Opera, Book by Giuseppe Foppa - Casa Ricordi Edition,
|Gaudenzio, Sofia's tutor:
Florville, Sophia's beloved:
|Bruschino junior and
DEL PARMA OPERA ENSEMBLE
Concert Master and Conductor:
Director: ANDREA DONDI - Costumes:
DI TORRECHIARA 2001
The genre of Italian farce
provided the young Rossini with an ideal format with which to prove
himself since it was a well established musical tradition at that
time. In fact, between November 1810 and January 1813 Rossini composed
five such farces: La Cambiale
di Matrimonio (Bill of Exchange of Marriage) which signalled
his operatic debut, L’Inganno Felice (The Happy Strategem),
La Scala di Seta (The Silken Ladder), L’Occasione fa
il Ladro (Opportunity Makes the Thief) and Il Signor Bruschino.
The Italian concept of a farce (farsa) is a short opera, almost
always in one act, with specific characteristics and it became popular
in Venice during the last decades of the 18th Century and the first
20 years of the 19th. The size of a company presenting farces was
typically small – from five to seven – in a recurring configuration.
Among the fixed roles there were always two lovers: a prima donna
– soprano – and the juvenile lead (primo mezzo carattere) –
tenor (in Il Signor Bruschino these are the roles of Sofia
and Florville). There were always at least two comic parts (buffi)
(in our case, three: Bruschino senior, Gaudenzio and Filiberto). One
or two other singers would complete the company, playing minor roles
(Marianna, Bruschino junior and a policeman).
The comic elements were visual stage business, often left to the actors
to improvise, and some obsessive/compulsive linguistic ‘tic’ (Bruschino
senior continually repeats the phrase «Uh, it’s so hot!») distributed
throughout the libretto. The ability of the artists to act was even
more important than their ability to sing.
Structurally, the farsa is similar in every respect to traditional
opera, being composed of a series of arias and duets with an introduction
and finale, divided in the middle by the usual ensemble feature (in
Il Signor Bruschino this is achieved with the trio «Per
un figlio già pentito»). On the other hand, Rossini’s farces are often
already modelled on dramatic forms associated more with the 19th century:
a particularly relevant aspect is the component of pathos which really
belongs to the development of the melodrama. Right from the first
scene this element is particularly evident in Il Signor Bruschino
with Florville’s cavatina and his duet with Sofia, both profoundly
Anyway, as Rognoni noted, Bruschino «separated itself from
the musical language and the taste in staging and music of its time.
Apart from the innovative use of vocal mechanics and rhythmic instrumentation
even the melodic phrasing differed markedly from 18th century conventions,
especially in terms of lyrical sentimentality which was already taking
on that romantic intonation which would be developed still further
decades later in the musical language of Donizetti and Bellini».
Among the ‘peculiarities’ which caused a sensation at its premiere
was the daring experiment in search of new tonal effects occurring
in the overture, during which the second violins are required to tap
their bows on their music stands.
Jacques Offenbach so admired Il Signor Bruschino that he partially
revised the text and music with a view to a new production in Paris
in December 1857. Having been invited to attend, Rossini replied to
the French composer with typical irony: «I gave you permission to
do as you wanted, but I certainly do not intend to become your accomplice.»
Translation by Sarah J Hyde -
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