Gioachino Rossini Analysis

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If you’d asked audiences in 1825 to name the most popular composer of the day, it would not have been Beethoven, it would have been Gioachino Rossini. From the time Tancredi premiered in 1813, Rossini’s operas were the most popular and influential all over Europe, in part because he blended the elements of opera buffa and opera seria into works that appealed to audiences from a wide range of nationalities and class.

Rossini was born on Leap Year Day in 1792 in Pesaro, Italy on the Adriatic Coast. His mother was an opera singer and his father a horn and trumpet player. As a child he performed professionally as a singer, most often in churches. The family traveled frequently to perform in operas, finally settling in Bologna in 1804 where his
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Rosina opens the duet singing “Dunque io son tu non m'inganni? Dunque io son la fortunata!” (Then it is I … You are not mocking me? Then I am the fortunate girl!) in bel canto style. (Often the Rosina will enliven the “fortunata” with a trill and hold as long as possible.) When she sings “Gia' me l'ero immaginata: lo sapeva pria di te” (But I had already guessed it, I knew it all along), listen for her rapid descending trills: G down to B in half steps, repeat, then D down to A, repeat, C to G, repeat, and so on, all in sixteenth notes; this, as you will hear, requires uncommon agility! Figaro soon echoes her with trills of his own: “Oh, che volpe sopraffina, ma l'avra' da far con me.” (Oh, what a cunning little fox! But she'll have to deal with me.) What Rossini does here is create dramatic conflict in the text while creating harmony in the music. Figaro, of course, thinks he has to persuade Rosina, but the music tells us that they are united in wanting the same thing. Figaro then asks her to write just two lines to “Lindoro” (the count’s disguise); they humorously spar back and forth with Rosina claiming shyness and so on, before Rosina takes the already completed letter from her bosom. She then sings “Fortunati affetti miei! Io comincio a respirar” (Fortune smiles on my love, I can breathe once more). There are more trills, higher notes (even a high A, about as high as a mezzo usually sings) and faster runs up and down the scale, especially when she sings, “Ah, tu solo, amor, tu sei che mi devi consolar” (Oh, you alone, my love, can console my heart) where the line goes from middle G down to B then rapidly up to D then back to B and so on, again all in sixteenth notes. Figaro echoes her vocal line while complaining (quite cheerfully!) about the vagaries of women. Often the singers overtly flirt with each other and the tone of the entire duet is

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