Gioachino Rossini - Concert Aria (1813) - "Alle voci della gloria" (Samuel Ramey)


This virtuoso scene for bass and orchestra, "Alle voci della gloria", a typical "aria di baule" or "suitcase aria" (meaning arias that singers in the nineteenth century carried around with them, should a need arise to sing a piece of suitable demands; sometimes literally in a suitcase :D), generally supposed to have been written by Rossini in 1813 for Filippo Grimani, a Venetian patron, is something of an enigma in the list of Rossini's works, and has a decidedly troubled modern life. It was considered not so long ago (and interpolated as such) as an insertion aria for the completely-sololess Blansac from one of Rossini first operas, "La scala di seta". But there are several signs that, as Philip Gossett rightly points out in his book on performing belcanto, overturn a possibility of Rossini actually considering such an insertion: first off all, we have the text, worthy of opera seria, speaking of a languishing lover, completely lost in his desire to see his beloved again, though the cabaletta is set in a more hopeful mood; then, there is the rich orchestration which includes instruments - trumpets, trombones and percussion - that are actually absent from the earlier opera itself; the level of virtuosity that is asked throughout also seems alien to the comprimario from the farse; finally, there is a question of musical balance, Blansac does not actually need an aria, as it would destroy the balance of the opera where half of the numbers are already traditionally set as solo pieces. Still, the piece, despite it's enigmatic history, brilliantly showy, if not exactly what could be considered one of Rossini's best creation, is a delightful early work. It is set to a classical three-part structure, beginning with a dramatic series of coloratura roulandes over a vaguely militant bass line, punctuated by the use of winds and sighing string lines, lending a very romantic atmosphere to the opening. But it is the next section, a stunning andante that catches one's attention, perfectly detailing the lover's desire to see his beloved. Some may find it familiar and, indeed, the section appears as Elisabetta's (from the later, by two years, "Elisabetta, Regina d'Inghilterra") "Bell'alme generose" from her final aria (though I actually prefer it in this setting). After a resolute tempo di mezzo, a cabaletta of stunning virtuosity begins, again recognizable as Rosina's "Io sono docile" and, even more so, Elisabetta's cabaletta for her cavatina, pointing to some of the inspiration behind one of Rossini's more successful dramatic works. I actually have two renditions of this scena, one of them - by the stunning Michele Pertusi, but I decided to go for a slightly more serious approach (truth be told, Pertusi approaches the aria as a comical one which is especially evident in the cabaletta, bubbling with joy but not exactly responsive to the text), as taken by Samuel Ramey in the presented version. Hope you'll enjoy :). P.S. Just noticed: the opening chords are similar to those of the previous post of Lindoro's alternative aria :).

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